No matter how much we think we have been surprised, the world never fails to surprise us more. So I learnt about this sad news that the talented actor Aamir Malik from the movie, Khamosh Pani, has passed away. The actor had been homeless for a long time and had been facing issues of drug addiction. This happened way back in January this year but was revealed only now. He passed away in his hometown Quetta in Pakistan.
Aamir Malik had received much acclaim for his role as Saleem, in Khamosh Pani, a movie which had received several awards at the Locarno Film Festival including Best Film. The movie was directed by Sabiha Sumar who has directed many award winning documentaries on various issues.
He was clearly a talent that had gotten attention from some big names of the film fraternity. He was supposed to play the role of Bhagat Singh in the blockbuster Bollywood movie Rang De Basanti. But apparently Malik never showed up. The affable actor was of the opinion that Indian actors should become a part of Pakistani films. Incidentally, Kirron Kher and Shilpa Shukla were two Indian actors in a Pakistani film.
The movie Khamosh Pani was banned in Pakistan at least for some time as it was a story centered on the Partition of India and the regime of Zia Ul Haq. Malik had played the role of a troubled teenager who is caught temporarily in a crisis of faith and lets his passion of youth override emotions. He abandons the gentle habit of playing the flute and joins a political group. Despite years of independence from colonisation, India and Pakistan have been unable to stop falling into the shackles of their own past and are constantly taken advantage of by politicians, making a farce out of democracy. Had this self reflecting, painful narrative created some sort of a trouble for the actor?
This is surprising for so many reasons. How is it possible for a popular actor to go missing in this age of continuous media attention? And what I know of Pakistani culture, which is so alike the Indian culture, is the stronghold of family on an individual, no matter how famous. Although the movie was shot way back in 2003, still it had given Malik international fame and popularity. And when even the most common amongst us have a tough time staying away from the number of electronic sources which keep us connected, how did Aamir escape everyone’s attention?
There is not much in the news about him except this report in the Pakistani newspaper Tribune. According to the report from this source his issues were going on for too long. His co-star from Khamosh Pani, Shilpa Shukla, who was Malik’s friend, said he had begun to avoid human company right after the success of the movie and seems like he was suffering from depression. He even refused help from those who wanted to admit him into a rehabilitation facility. It was said during last few months of his life, Malik would entertain common people on the streets of Karachi with verses from Shakespeare, Ghalib and many other poets while he himself surrendered to a life of anonymity.