I’ve known Irrfan Khan from the time he didn’t drop the Khan in his name. That happened after all the Khans began to be frisked ferociously at airports. Irrfan just called it quits one fine day. No more Khan and now no more irrfan!
Not that he liked to be controversial. But look at what his Twitter declaration on his health issue had done that time. It had triggered off a wave of speculation in the media, exactly what Irrfan asked to be avoided.
Knowing Irrfan I had know he will come out straight and clean with his illness as soon as the diagnosis is complete.I’ve known him for close to ten years. Never have I known him to play games or make deceptive statements or make unfair demands on me as a journalist.He has also been unwavering in his cordiality. Once my daughter who was studying journalism at Columbia University, New York needed to speak to Irrfan urgently. Not only did he speak with her patiently for an hour or more, when I asked him to, he later asked me if she was pleased with what he had told her.
Irrfan was a man of a thoughtful word. He neither flatters nor tolerates flattery. He says it like it is.So many actors get pissed off when their handpicked journalists don’t write exactly what they want. Irrfan used to take criticism, if it is fair. The one time he got pissed off with me was when I had pulled him for sucking up to Deepika Padukone at an awards night. I felt he didn’t need to do that. He felt I didn’t need to show him his place.
Fair enough. Irrfan liked to occupy with pride and dignity the space that he had created for himself.His rise had been meteoric. From an arthouse auteur to a fairly reliable commercial star-actor in films like Qareeb Qareeb Singlle and especially Hindi Medium in which Irrfan finally broke the glass ceiling between art and mainstream cinema.
Irrfan was overjoyed at getting the popular best-actor awards for Hindi Medium. “Hindi Medium has been able to crack the magic of marrying content with popularity.I am happy that the bridge has been crossed from critic’ to ‘popular’ on my own terms.I didn’t have to go the so-called massy route. I must tell you, though I won for Hindi Medium even for the Qarib Qarib Single role I was nominated for the popular category as well.For Hindi Medium the entire effort went into making an aspirational but fantastic story into a relatable tale whereas in Qarib Qarib Single my effort went into making the role which is fantastic and aspirational as relatable as possible. So in a way, the two roles had to be approached from opposite directions.”
He was at the peak and was ready to begin a new film directed by one of his favourite directors Vishal Bharadwaj opposite one of his favourite actresses Deepika Padukone. Then it all fell apart!
Some time ago he told me, “It’s always been important to have boxoffice success.But at the same time, I couldn’t ignore my need to tell the stories in my way and not compromising on the kind of films I wanted to do and reach a mass audience. So I am happy of the audiences’ need now to watch fresher and newer content hence it’s becoming easier to reach a wider audience a mass audience through my kind of films.So at this juncture its all coming together and happening organically.”