Aamir Khan has come to be widely associated with perfectionism. Be it on or off screen, he has the image of a perfectionist- which sometimes gets translated into the characters he plays. However, my favourite role of his is one of his more imperfect characters – Akash Malhotra from Dil Chahta Hai, a spoilt rich man-child who has a very redeeming character arc in the movie.
Akash, Sid (Akshaye Khanna) and Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) are college BFFs who have suddenly been thrust into the overwhelming world of adulthood after graduating college. Each of them has his own struggles and comes to terms with them by the end of the movie. However, Akash has the most radical transformation. In the beginning of the movie he is introduced as a rude, brazen, dad-joke cracking machine, who will hit on a pretty girl even if he ends up embarrassing himself in the process. He is not considerate of his friends' feelings nor does he want to be, his only goal in life is to have fun. He fights with his friends, cracks inappropriate jokes and gives horrible relationship advice (much to Sameer's dismay).
But when his rich father commands him to take over the family business in Australia, Akash obeys and lands up in Sydney where he runs into Shalini (Preity Zinta), a pretty girl he had hit on previously. It is now that we see a slight shift in his attitude towards life. From being a 'screw it lets do it' person, Akash becomes a more thoughtful and cautious person. The dad jokes don't stop, but the obnoxiousness is certainly taken down a notch. He starts caring for Shalini and in the process realises the true value of friendship. He understands that some things are not meant to be joked about, some things are serious and that one needs to be gentle and delicate while broaching certain topics. He doesn't hold back his feelings anymore, he understands that it is okay to be emotional, to open up to someone and to be vulnerable.
Once back in Mumbai he mends ties with Sid and apologises to him. Akash matures enough to understand when to stop holding a grudge and when to start supporting a friend in need. From being a 'jaane kyu log pyaar karte hai' person he becomes the person who interrupts a wedding to confess his feelings for the bride. He understands and accepts his feelings for Shalini, and in an attempt to win her back enacts the classic 'ye shaadi nahi ho sakti hai' scene.
From a movie that gave us iconic BFF goals like road trip to Goa and absolute bangers like Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe, I learnt something much more than just living in the moment. I learnt how to fight for friendships and how to grow with the people I love. Akash Malhotra was much more than his first scene in the movie let on, he was a brat, but he grew into a caring person, he was a cool fun guy who turned serious about stuff and from a pessimist, he turned into a person capable of accepting and receiving love.