In his 24-year career in Indian cinema, he has gained countless accolades and honours. A cinematic leviathan, he is the star of the highest grossing Bollywood movie of all time; he has scored an Oscar nominated film; he has been feted by presidents and lunched with prime ministers. As a romantic hero, he has experienced the kind of female adoration that One Direction would envy and he counts Tom Hanks among his many fans.
Most recently, Khan appeared on the cover of TIME in recognition of his work on the globally successful, Oprah Winfrey-styled Indian TV series Satyameve Jayete. Through the show, he has forged a connection with the common man and achieved the notable feat of getting a Child Protection Bill passed in parliament. And he still manages to find time for the occasional song and dance number.
With the eagerly awaited suspense drama Talaash releasing next week, Khan speaks to Digital Spy about being a perfectionist on set, the lengths he goes to develop his character and how he really feels about being hailed "the saviour of the nation".
It's known that you choose your films very carefully, with the result that you've been a part of some outstanding cinema. What was it about Talaash that interested you?
"The script is what attracted me to this film aside from the prospect of working with very fine actors. When I was going through it, I was really riveted by the story. Towards the end I thought, not only is this a suspense drama, but it's an extremely emotional film and at its core, it's about coming to terms with loss. On the one hand it's a suspense drama, on the other it's a very emotional story and I found it very engrossing and moving."
It's always exciting to see your new look for a character. Can you describe the particularities of the character you play in Talaash and why developing the physical characteristics is so important for you with every role you play?
"Each character in each script is clearly defined, then obviously you will play each character quite differently. For me what's important is to try to get into the head of the character and understand what's going on in his mind and after that everything else grows, including the physicality and the look of the character. In this case, one of the important aspects of the character is that he has been through a lot of things and he is not able to come out of the trauma that he has suffered. And that plays very heavily on his mind through his life, so that's a very important aspect of his character and needed to be expressed in his physical appearance and his demeanour. When I get excited by a script, I go for it and whatever a character requires me to be, I do it."
It's the second time you've worked with Kareena Kapoor after the hugely successful pairing of 3 Idiots. Why do you think your on-screen pairing with her works so well and what was it like to reunite with Rani Mukerji on screen after Ghulam and Mangal Pandey?
"Both of them are really wonderful actresses and it was really great working with them. Kareena and I of course worked together most recently in 3 Idiots. Both Kareena and Rani are very fine actors, both lovely human beings and it's always great to work with them. I think they have both done a wonderful job and its great that the audience gets to see them in one film playing their respective characters."
People often talk about you being a perfectionist and being meticulous on set. In an interview with Digital Spy, Reema Kagti said if you're lucky enough to have Aamir Khan in your film you would be crazy not to encourage his input and ideas. How would you describe your way of working on a film and do you think of yourself as a perfectionist?
"That's very kind of Reema to say that, but I think most of the people I've worked with - and it's not just me - but if you have a committed team working on a film, everyone kind of works together to achieve the one vision of the director. It's their vision we're all trying to follow and help them achieve."
Can you tell us about the experience of working on Dhoom 3 with Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra and Katrina Kaif and is it true that Aaradhya and Azad become friends when they visited on set?
"I'm playing a gymnast in Dhoom 3. It was great fun with Abhishek and Uday on the film. Our kids didn't really get to bond because by the time Aishwarya and Abhishek's daughter came Azad and Kiran had left, so they didn't get to see each other but it was great to work with Uday, Abhishek and Katrina."
Satyameve Jayete has been a huge success and most significantly has been a catalyst for social change. How would you describe the experience of making that show and the effect it has had on you personally?
"The show has had a dream response. It's the kind of worldwide response we could only dream of. It's really wonderful to see the way the people have connected to the show and how the show has touched so many people's lives and it's wonderful to see so many people's attitudes changing around you. I think one of the biggest accomplishments of the show is that it encourages us to publicly debate certain issues that otherwise we don't discuss, that we're very uncomfortable talking about publicly."
It was a thrill to see you on the cover of TIME. The tagline read 'Can an actor save a nation?' How do you feel about the new role accorded to you as the saviour of a nation?
"For me, I don't see myself as a saviour. I see myself as someone who is just trying to learn and this is a personal journey for me. A journey for enriching my own life and in the process of that, understanding my country better and the issues facing us together and the issues affecting our society. In the process of learning about those things I'm hoping to share that with people. That's all I'm doing."
You've had such an illustrious career conquering film and now TV, was there ever a grand master plan and of all the accolades bestowed upon you, what do you regard as your greatest achievement?
"I don't know. I really don't know. I don't think of these things. I suppose what I consider of value from what I've achieved, is the great learning experience that I've had working with so many talented people in these films, getting to meet so many amazing people during the journey of Satyamev Jayete, from different parts of the country, from small towns and villages, and people who speak different languages. The journey that I have undertaken meeting people from all walks of life and learning from them has been my biggest achievement. That's what I find to be of the most value."