From working behind-the-scenes on various movies under Aamir Khan Productions to managing Aamir Khan’s calendar and now to directing the superstar, Advait Chandan has come a long way. He considers the banner his “film school” and says being a manager to the actor-producer was like a lottery ticket for him.

Geared up to release his debut directorial “Secret Superstar”, which features Aamir in a “never-seen-before” avatar, Chandan spoke to IANS on the occasion of Teachers Day on Tuesday, highlighting how working closely with Mr Perfectionist and his wife and filmmaker Kiran Rao has been a learning curve for him.

“For me, the turning point of my life was when I came into Aamir Khan Productions (AKP) to work on ‘Taare Zameen Par’ as a production assistant in 2007. Then I worked on ‘Dhobi Ghat’ and then managed Aamir sir’s work. So, the banner has been like a film school for me,” Chandan told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

He had started working in showbiz with Prahlad Kakkar and Farhan Akhtar after his schooling days.

“I really wanted to go to film school. I didn’t get through FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) and couldn’t afford to go to a film school abroad. So I kept working and learnt on the job,” Chandan said.

“The last 10 to 11 years at AKP have been a graduate and a post-graduate degree for me… It has been my education,” added Chandan, who says he has tried to imbibe Aamir’s sincere work ethics in life.

“Dhobi Ghat” gave Chandan a chance to do as many different jobs as he could behind the scenes, but he didn’t know what to do next once the project ended.

“That’s when Aamir sir was looking for a manager. When he suggested it (asked me if I wanted to manage his work), I was like ‘Ye toh lottery lag gayi (It was like winning a lottery’.”

“The thing is when you’re working with him, and you’re managing his work and diary, you’re getting to spend time with one of the most powerful producers and actors in the country,” Chandan said.

His main job as Aamir’s manager was to be a “jeeta-jaagta calendar (live calendar)”. But he says there were perks too.

“I could rehearse with him, give him cues, I love photography so I would get my camera and shoot him sometimes, I would be in marketing meetings where I could give suggestions. So, I got a lot of chances as it was all still within the industry and within the gambit of films,” Chandan said.

“It was a great vantage point, and an entry into how a producer of his level functions… Managing him was like a full lottery ticket,” Chandan said, expressing gratitude to Aamir and Kiran for letting him learn and grow despite having no film connection.

Son of a software consultant and a teacher, Chandan is now looking forward to see his hard work come alive with “Secret Superstar”, releasing on October 19.

Featuring “Dangal” girl Zaira Wasim, it is the story of a girl who dreams on and works towards making her dream of becoming a singer come true.