‘Haasil’ is Tigmanshu Dhulia’s film. Tigmanshu and Irfan were very good friends. In the first scene of Haasil, Irfan is seen running away, followed by people from the other camp. When caught, there is a lot of beating. Then there is the entry of Ashutosh Rana. In this scene, Irfan vomits blood from his mouth and we are convinced that this man is vomiting blood… This is the biggest specialty of Irfan. Seeing Irrfan, everyone feels that we are seeing ourselves. Looking at such a character who has just gone on screen from among us. This is Irrfan’s charisma and he could have done such a thing.
Irfan is no longer in this world. His mother had died three days before his death. Irfan’s wife Sutapa Sikdar lives with their two children Babil and Ayan. Babil has started his film career. When his acting was praised in the art film, people started comparing him with Irrfan. Some people also wanted to see Babil because they could once see Irfan’s shadow in Babil. People often say about Irrfan that he never really acted. This is also the truth. Babil still has a long way to go. Sutapa also says in an interview that I always tell Babil that your father used to work 10 times more than you.
Coming from the small town of Tonk in Rajasthan, Irfan wanted to become the first cricketer. Born in a Pathan family, Shahbazade Irfan Ali Khan was called Pandit by his father. He used to say that a Brahmin has taken birth in a Pathan’s house. The reason was that Irfan did not eat meat… Coming from a landlord family, Irfan had the option of managing his family’s tire business but he was interested in stories, like Naseeruddin Shah and Dilip Kumar. Living in the world of stories Meera Nair had offered Salaam Bombay to Irrfan while studying in NSD. But later his role became very small..he cried a lot about this. However, after 18 years Mira Nair repaid the debt by casting Irrfan in The Namesake.
This was the era of 90’s. Salman, Shah Rukh Aamir Khan were emerging and cinema was also changing. Parallel cinema was becoming blunt in a way. And the hero was making a splash with the guitar on the screen. During this period, Irrfan was seen in Tapan Sinha’s film ‘Ek Doctor Ki Maut’ with Pankaj Kapoor and Shabana Azmi, but the days of art films were gone, so no one saw Irrfan. Noticed and neither the film was discussed.
Mumbai is the city of dreams, if you stop here then understand that it is over. Irfan had to go a long way. So they decided that let’s do TV. Worked in many shows like ‘Chanakya’, ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’, ‘Sara Jahan Hamara’, ‘Banegi Apni Baat’ and ‘Chandrakanta’. But to some extent I got recognition from Chandrakata. His work was also praised in Chanakya. But Asif Kapadia gave Irfan the right identity.
Kapadia cast Irrfan Khan for the Hollywood film ‘Warrior’. Then he was 34 years old. Talking to The Guardian, Asif Kapadia says- I met Irfan for the first time in a hotel in Mumbai when he was 21 years old. As soon as Irfan entered the room, I felt that this is my actor, at first sight he appeared to me like a man who has just come back after killing many people and has remorse for this. We went to shoot in mountains and deserts. For the first time he saw snow on the mountains. He used to make ordinary lines extraordinary. There was an emotion in his acting, he was really a star.
Irrfan’s film ‘Warrior’ received the BAFTA Award at the London Film Festival. Due to some technical reason, the film was declared ineligible for the Foreign Language at the Oscars. This upset Irfan a lot. Later, Irfan made a splash in Hollywood. Very few people know that Irrfan’s name was recommended by Brad Pitt for the Hollywood movie ‘A Mighty Hurt’. Brad Pitt showed Irrfan’s DVD to the director of the film. Irrfan worked in two Oscar winning films. Also worked in mega and commercial films like Jurassic World, Inferno and Spider-Man.
There was one thing in Irrfan’s films and in his life that everyone talks about. Those who see him as well as those who work with him. That was his honesty. Whatever he did, he used to have his whole soul, truth and this was the charisma of being Irfan. There was also a special thing in this that as his career progressed, with increasing height, he remained the same as he was at the beginning of his career. That’s why he went on working in Hindi and English films with equal ease.
Asif Kapadia, director of Warrior, says – I have never heard anyone talk about cancer like Irrfan talked about his illness before. He really wanted to know what was happening to me.
Irrfan is remembered as an actor who had more than 1 thousand emotions in his eyes which he could change as per his wish. Only a magician can do this. Maqbool, Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire, The Lunchbox, Piku, Hindi Medium, Paan Singh Tomar, Life in Metro, Talwar… Irfan has done magic in all these films. Whether it is main stream films or art, Irrfan has done wonders in every genre.
When Irfan said goodbye at the age of 53, it was not surprising for the people because he had already told everything clearly. Major English newspapers of the world made headlines on the death of an Indian actor. The Hollywood star paid tribute. This had not happened before with any Indian actor. Before Irrfan, no Indian actor had got such popularity in the West. CNN writes on Irrfan’s death – The Bollywood Star Who Cracked Hollywood, West’s newspapers gave him the title of ‘A Cinematic Indian Every Man’. BBC wrote – The Bollywood Star Loved by Hollywood.
The film is an anecdote related to Haasil. Irfan and Tugmanshu were friends. Tigmanshu was making achievements but Irfan was nowhere in his mind. And Irfan also found it strange to tell his friend to cast me. Later Irfan became a part of this film but when he reached the set, he felt that the character Khanti is Allahabadi and he is from Rajasthan. Irfan left for Allahabad to get into the character. Met people there. He adopted the local tone and dialect and when he returned, Khanti had become Rannvijay Singh.
In childhood, Irrfan was very fond of Mithun Chakraborty. Irfan had long hair like Mithun. Irrfan is known for acting with his eyes. The pain, innocence, rebellion, anger, love and disdain he used to bring in his character was amazing. Maqbool’s loyalty to Abba ji or Haider’s character of Ruhdar all seem true. Saajan Fernandes of Lunch Box can probably be called the cutest character played by him. Seeing Irrfan’s performance in Namesake, Sharmila Tagore told Irrfan – thank your parents who gave birth to you.
Till the end, Irfan remained such a person who knows how to laugh even after seeing death in front of him. After finding out about cancer, he said- I did not know that in search of different and rare stories, I would find a rare disease. This was Irfan’s style. For Irfan, the door to the West was still open. After watching Piku, people started saying that Irrfan’s magic has started working now.
Irrfan will also be remembered for an actor who worked hard on his own, developed his craft and made a new place for himself. Script selection was also one of his specialties. However, despite this quality, he rejected many Hollywood films. One might think that Irrfan would have said no to Christopher Nolan… but it is true. In 2014, Irrfan turned down Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar for The Lunchbox. In 2015, he refused to work in Ridley Scott’s The Martian because he wanted to do Shoojit Sircar’s Piku. In 2008, Irrfan had also said no to famous Hollywood director Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies.
In the promotion of Jurassic World, Irrfan had told an anecdote – When the first Jurassic Park was released in 1993, Irrfan was struggling to work in TV. He did not have enough money to buy a ticket to Jurassic Park. But gradually he became a name in Hollywood, Irrfan, whose smile Angelina talks about and about whom Venom actor Riz Ahmed says that Irrfan, this One of the greatest actors of the era.
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Life of Pi is Irrfan’s Oscar winning film. Irfan once said that I am removing Khan from my name, since then he used to write himself as Irfan. Irrfan may have gone much before the time.. but as if he has made a home in the hearts of people. He has a dialogue in Haasil – We will remember you Guru…