Mumbai, Dec. 16 -- Aamir Khan is early. By a whole 45 minutes. In times when we're used to stars turning up two hours late, this is a pleasant surprise. Soon after, Rajkumar Hirani (director of Aamir's next), co-star Anushka Sharma, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and co-writer Abhijat Joshi arrive at the HT office.
Over the next few hours, the cast and crew of PK interact with team HT Cafe and Fever 104 FM, along with a few invited HT readers.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan in conversation at the Hindustan Times office I am missing Junaid (Aamir's son) a lot actually. I was happy working with him [as an assistant director].
Anushka, you debuted opposite Shah Rukh Khan and now you've done a film with Aamir. Who intimidated you more?
ANUSHKA: Honestly, it was Aamir, and I will explain why. I come from an army background so there is a sense of hierarchy...
AAMIR: How does the army background figure here?
ANUSHKA: It does. In the army, you aren't on backslapping terms with people, and I used to feel shy about approaching Aamir or talking to him. But having said that, Aamir and Shah Rukh have different working styles. SRK is more spontaneous, whereas there's method to what Aamir does. When he comes on the sets he already knows what he will do in a scene.
Junaid (Aamir's son) worked as an assistant director (AD) on the film. What was that like?
RAJU: He is a wonderful kid. He was treated like any other AD, was given work, and reprimanded when needed. But he really has a mind of his own; I can see glimpses of Aamir in him.
AAMIR: I am missing Junaid a lot actually. He is studying in Los Angeles, USA. Kiran (Rao; wife), my mom, Azad (son) and Ira (daughter) have seen the film, but Junaid has not. I was happy working with him. The only thing was that, on the sets, he used to be at the periphery of the unit controlling the crowd or something, so I didn't get to see him too often.
Anushka, is it true that you auditioned for 3 Idiots (2009)?
ANUSHKA: So, this happened even before Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008). I was given some dialogue from Munna Bhai MBBS (2003), and they didn't tell me what I was auditioning for, and who the director was. Then, while shooting for PK, an AD showed us the audition tape. It was so bad that it didn't even go past the preliminary stage and reach Raju sir (laughs).
Aamir, two of your past releases have had a school and a college as backdrops. Where will we see you in your upcoming film?
Aamir Khan (left) and Anushka Sharma sign on HT Cafe mugs
AAMIR: Actually, schools and colleges don't excite me at all. I had a very traumatic time in school and college. Yes, I ended up making two such films (Taare Zameen Par; 2007, and 3 Idiots; 2010), but I think PK is more a school of life; it's not [about] a formal institution. Raju, you've worked with Aamir and Vidhu on 3 Idiots. What was it like working with them again?
RAJU: They are both filmmakers, and it's easy to work with film-makers. With them, I have realised that I need to say very little, and they understand much more. It's easy to work with those who understand cinema. We often hear of camps being formed in Bollywood. Aamir, you, Raju and Vinod have stuck together since 3 Idiots. Is there pressure to churn out another hit after your last outing?
AAMIR: For me, there is no pressure. I don't believe in these clubs or camps, and I don't think Raju and Vinod do either. We like to work organically. If Raju has a script that may not suit me, then I will understand that he needs to cast someone else, and that's how things should be. Otherwise you start compromising on your work. There is no concept of a camp; we came together to work again because the situation required it. Are there any plans to make a sequel to 3 Idiots?
ABHIJAT: Honestly, I don't know. We have an idea for the 3 Idiots sequel, a Munna Bhai part three, and also for a PK sequel; but the PK and Munna Bhai sequels interest me the most. So, I think the 3 Idiots sequel may happen in the future, but these two I really want to work on. Sequels seem to have become a safe marketing decision for film-makers of late. Vidhu, do you think they make for good business decisions?
VIDHU: Can you imagine that a company that has made Munna Bhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) has not made the third film for eight years now? For the sake of marketing a film, it (making a sequel) is the stupidest decision. For a Vinod Chopra film or a Raju Hirani film, not doing it (a sequel) is the dumbest thing, because even if we made rubbish, by Monday, it would make ' 200 crores. By the time you guys say it's a bad movie, we would say thank you very much, and sorry we messed up. But we are not doing that, because we only make films if we are happy with the script. We are not in the business of marketing films, but of making genuinely good ones. Aamir, Salman Khan has said that he is ready to do Andaz Apna Apna 2. Are you?
AAMIR: I would love to. I have asked Raj (Kumar Santoshi; director of Andaz Apna Apna, 1994) why he hasn't started working on part two, but he hasn't got down to it yet. We are waiting for him to come with a script... I would love to do it.