This is a very tricky question and very few people will try to answer this, so let me give this a try.
Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman Khan are the three most successful Bollywood superstars of our generation. They are of the same age and are constantly compared to each other. This phenomenon happened only once earlier in Bollywood during the times of Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor who were also not exactly friends with each other either (that is another story). Coming back to the point…
Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan have never been friends at all. They have always remained contemporaries in the film industry. People talk about the professional rivalry between Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan but if you pick the right noises, you will know that there used to be greater and much intense rivalry between the Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan. The rivalry has somehow subsided a bit these days because Aamir has started doing very less number of films and the Khans (all three) steer clear of each other when it comes to timing their releases. The intense rivalry between the two has slipped out very few times in the media but there have been instances where both Aamir and Shah Rukh have spoken about each other which may not be perceived as complimentary. However, this doesn’t mean that the two superstars have not come out in support of each other when the situation arose. They have shared the same platform, complimented one another and even supported each other when there was a need. Their professional rivalry reached a peak when Aamir Khan ‘ambushed’ Shah Rukh Khan’s Rab De Bana Di Jodi with his clever marketing strategies for Ghajini which was supposed to follow next.
I covered the remarkable marketing strategy for a newspaper, so I have seen that phase first hand. Giant cutouts of Aamir as Ghajini were placed at the entrance of many prominent multiplexes and the ushers at the theatre were given Ghajini haircuts. So, anybody who came in to see Shah Rukh Khan’s movie, were forced to recognise that an Aamir Khan movie was releasing next. This sudden move didn’t obviously go down well with SRK and his team.
This marketing war was eventually won by Aamir Khan when Ghajini went on to become a huge hit and (in my opinion) affected the business of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi which was a super-hit in the end too. This superb move established Aamir as one of the best marketing brains in Bollywood. A few years later, of course, the same move backfired when Talaash released closely with Jab Tak Hai Jaan. In this case, Talaash flopped while JTHJ went on to fare well at the box office. The fact that Aamir and Salman have been long-time good friends also didn’t help to soothe nerves in this intense professional rivalry. There have been numerous instances of Aamir Khan openly endorsing Salman Khan as the number one hero in Bollywood.
So, the relationship between the two have traversed between being frosty and warm but they have not been friends with each other. As I see it, they have reached out to each other numerous times and longed to be friends but their professional rivalry have always thwarted that attempt. It’s not that the two Khans don’t realise this. They know this too. Aamir also once struggled to describe his relationship with Shah Rukh Khan, to Karan Johar on a show, where he admitted that there have been periods of intense stress in their relationship. However, the situation has now seemed to have gotten better, as they have started charting out their own paths with both doing different kinds of movies with their release dates planned out much in advance. These days one notices them meeting each other or bumping into each other more often than before. A couple of times, a rare selfie with the two of them together has also trended on social media.
But the truth is: Both have them have not yet reached a stage where we can call them the proverbial “good friends” in Bollywood.