It appears Irrfan Khan has stumbled upon a magic formula.
The actor, who is best known for conveying emotions through his eyes, is now a tad more comfortable expressing things with a tinge of a smile. He’s broken his own mold in the last few films: Piku, Talvar and Jazbaa. However, this year, he gained momentum with his portrayal of a cloth merchant from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk in his last release Hindi Medium.
After having perfected intense roles over the years, it seems the actor has now slowed down and is making good use of his funny bone.
When I meet him, he is busy giving finishing touches to an ad film helmed by the Neerja director Ram Madhvani. His next is Tanuja Chandra’s Qarib Qarib Singlle. About the film, he reveals that Tanuja Chandra had sent him the script long ago and it kept lying on his table for almost a year till his wife Sutapa read it and found it appealing.
“There was a possibility in that script to be turned into a happy film. If two people have gone for a date on screen, the set formula of Bollywood will only talk about how a man will react to a woman, not vice-versa. This film completely turns around this concept. I went ahead with Sutapa’s conviction,” reveals Irrfan.
Irrfan has been part of the industry since 1988 though the first 15 years were spent struggling to find good work. So after having gained accolades from both Bollywood and Hollywood, does he feel secured now?
“I am not bothered about security. Till what point will you secure yourself? Now I pay a huge amount of tax and that too might seem less to certain people. You can only feel secured if you throw the very notion out of your mind. I have neither been part of any camp or any group, despite this life has taken good care of me,” he says.
We can’t help but ask: does he ever feel helpless when domestic media fails to write about his overseas achievements?
“The helplessness was there in the beginning. I used to tell my team that whatever is being said about me in the west should be conveyed to Indian media. Now I have gotten used to it and it’s not important to me. Such things are not required here because barring stardom our actors don’t bring much to the table. We fail to pick minor nuances in films. In the west, if you appear for even two minutes in a Wes Anderson film, the media will write about it. There is no point racking your brain,” says Irrfan
Qarib Qarib Singlle won’t put an end to Irrfan’s current comic streak; on the contrary he is all set to stretch it further. He is all set to be part of a political satire, which will soon feature on Amazon’s streaming platform. Irrfan reveals that it will have a minor element of Yes, Prime Minister and is certain to create some noise. Is he then not scared of political leaders? “You do get concerned that you will be poked unnecessarily but there are certain things that have to be spelt out. We will see whatever happens in future.”
In the past few year films like Paan Singh Tomar, The Lunchbox and Talvar had all the potential to be made as India’s entry to the Oscar but none could make it. “The entire country is suffering because of red tapism and Oscar is a very miniscule thing in entire scheme of things. The way films are selected here is ridiculous. No one has any interest in the entire process. But there is no need to get agonised about such things,” he adds as an after-thought.
Irrfan also reveals that after The Lunchbox lost the opportunity to become India’s entry to the Oscars, Sony Pictures took the decision at that time, to not touch an Indian film. He also discloses that one of the reasons why the shooting of Mira Nair’s Shantaram fell through was because of the issues that had cropped up during the filming of A Mighty Heart. “Johnny Depp was just not ready to come to India. The kind of jobs and money we lose because of such things is immense. No one is bothered. You can either commit suicide or resign to things,” says Irrfan.
For someone who had said no to films like Body of Lies, Tanu Weds Manu and Airlift in the past only because he felt he had tackled similar zones before, Irrfan has come a long way.