If you look at the very popular online Internet Movie Database's IMDb Top 250 (the list of best films of all-time all across the world), there are four Bollywood films.
They are: Taare Zameen Par (2007) (Rank 124), 3 Idiots (2009) (Rank 129), Rang De Basanti (2006) (Rank 136) and Lagaan (2001) (Rank 194). (Note: The ranks keep changing and the list itself is quite dynamic and may change when you check it sometime in the future.)
The only common factor in all of these films is Aamir Khan. There's no Sholay, no Mughal-e-Azam and nothing by any other Bollywood superstar of this or any other era.
He has an added feather in his cap as he was the director of the highest rated Bollywood film in the IMDb Top 50: Taare Zameen Par! So, he has managed to edge out all the top Bollywood directors in this list at least!
On top of that, Lagaan was nominated for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Quite an achievement considering that very few Bollywood masala movies make that cut. Mother India was another rare film that was also nominated.
Lagaan also made it to the Best Film lists in Time and Empire magazines.
At that time, the BBC film critic said that Lagaan surely would have won had it not been so long and full of songs, something that severely tests the patience of American audiences.
Apart from that Aamir has hardly been a dud at the box office and has been in sizzling form there too.
Ghajini in 2008 created the prestigious and much hyped Bollywood Rs 100 Crore Club. Today there are more than 20 films there, but Ghajini will always remain the first.
If that wasn't enough, then he went ahead and created the even more prestigious Bollywood Rs 200 Crore Club with 3 Idiots in the very next year in 2009. Nobody managed to come near that movie for four long years.
Then Aamir went ahead and made something even more sensational. He has created the worldwide Bollywood Rs 500 Crore Club with Dhoom 3. With a domestic box office collection of Rs 260 crores, it may remain at the very top for quite some time.
In fact ever since Ghajini was released in 2008, Aamir has mostly had the film which held the title of the all-time blockbuster. (This title was held just for a few months by Shahrukh Khan and Chennai Express in between Aamir's films.)
With Salman Khan's Jai Ho not exactly setting the box office on fire, Aamir remains the Emperor Khan.
In fact Aamir has just one dud in the last decade and that's Mangal Pandey: The Rising in 2005. Since then he has been gold both at the box office and with critics.
The new millennium has been Aamir Khan's all the way. It is very difficult to keep doing totally “different” films and still doing well at the box office.
(Note: Spoilers ahead)
Lagaan in 2001 was the unlikely story of a village cricket team beating a British team in 1893. Dil Chahta Hai in the same year was a refreshing new age film that wowed young audiences.
Rang De Basanti in 2006 was another experimental film which centred on a cause rather than a love story. Fanaa came in the same year and saw Aamir playing a terrorist who gets shot down by the heroine.
Taare Zameen Par in 2007 was another radically different film where Aamir played a school teacher guiding a troubled dyslexic student. Ghajini in 2008 centred on short term memory loss and the heroine dies mid-way through the movie.
3 Idiots in 2009 was an out and out entertainer with a very deep social message. He played a reclusive artist in Dhobi Ghat (2010) and chases a ghost in Talaash (2012).
In fact Dhoom 3 probably is one of the weakest Aamir films in terms of storyline and plot holes, but after coming out with such a stellar and wide-ranging list as mentioned above, he can be forgiven with one out and out masala flick.
Besides who can argue with Rs 500 crores!
There is no doubt about it, but Aamir is the Emperor Khan of Bollywood and the clear leader in Bollywood's current lot of superstars.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.