I miss directing: Kiran Rao

Film producer, screenwriter and director Kiran Rao has not directed a movie since her debut film Dhoby Ghat in January 2011. Speaking at the launch of #SecretSuperstarTrailer, Kiran, who is extremely active on the production side of Aamir Khan Productions, rued her forced exile: “I have finally locked on the subject I really want to work on. Have been struggling with it for a while. I am hoping that I will have a script very soon. And hoping that I will be back in the director’s seat soon.”

With the kind of entertaining movies and documentaries, which came out of Aamir Khan Productions no one is complaining. Clearly Kiran has had a dominant hand in all the projects, as she says, "I have been far too engaged in the production side of things." Their last eight films have done well commercially, entertained viewers, and made people think on a host of issues while winning national and international acclaim.

In addition to her movie work, Kiran is actively involved in a foundation meant to tackle water scarcity, which led to droughts in the Indian state of Maharashtra. “We have a non-profit, which works on water (issues) called Paani Foundation. We are actively involved in the running of that foundation as well.”     

Talking about doing cameo roles in movies, Kiran, said, “If it is a great role. I would love to act. I used to act in college. So I would love a cameo role if it was any fun.” Considering the high-praise from her perfectionist husband Aamir Khan, “She is a very good actor,” she should give it a try.

Leading couple of Hindi cinema make an excellent role model for gender equality. The mutual respect between Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan was clearly evident during the video engagement as well. Disparity between genders continues to grow in India. While the economy is growing at 6.1% a World Bank survey talks about a dip in women in labour force from 34% to 27 % and a Monster India survey quotes a gender pay gap of 27%.  

Kiran Rao was raised in Kolkata where she studied in the Loreto College. In 1992, she moved to Mumbai. She graduated with an economics major from the Sophia College for Women in 1995 and got her Masters at AJK Mass Communication Research Center at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.   

Kiran Rao.
Kiran Rao. Photo Courtesy: Alchetron

Rao started her filmmaking career as an assistant director in the epic film Lagaan directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, whom she also assisted later on Swades: We, the People. She first met Aamir Khan on the set of Lagaan, which was nominated for the 74th Academy Awards in the foreign language category. She also worked with Academy Award nominated director Mira Nair on the indie hit Monsoon Wedding.

For her first project at the helm, she scripted and directed the critically-acclaimed film Dhobi Ghat, which was released in January 2011 under Aamir Khan Productions. She has started writing her next film which will have roots in Kolkata.

Kiran Rao married Aamir Khan in December 2005. They now live in Bandra, a Mumbai suburb. The couple have a son, Azad Rao Khan (born on December 5, 2011), named after Abul Kalam Azad. She is a professed atheist and not afraid to be defined as such.

Aamir Khan & Kiran Rao promote Paani Foundation on the sets of Marathi program Chala Hawa Yeu Dya in 2017.
Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao promote Paani Foundation on the sets of Marathi program Chala Hawa Yeu Dya in 2017. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia

“Both Aamir, and the exposure I've got on account of being married to Aamir, has made me far less judgmental in some ways, and more open to different points of view. But the way he lives his life, the way he approaches his work, the rigour, the passion – they certainly inspire me. It helps to live with someone who's so driven, since I'm a person who tends to be fairly laid back,” Rao had told the Times of India in an interview.

Interestingly, Rao, who is a lifelong vegetarian, influenced Aamir to turn vegetarian as well, which over time turned to veganism.

Zee Studios International is distributing Secret Superstar in Singapore, which will hit the big screens on October 19, this Deepavali.