A debonair Irrfan Khan, who is in two films at this year’s Toronto Festival, was on stage with TIFF artistic director, Cameron Bailey. Someone in the audience said, “You’re really a fun guy and I always thought you were dead serious.”
The actor had surprised everyone with candour laced with racy, even raunchy asides. Example: “How can my director ask me after a heavy lunch to do a dark, emotional scene? It’s like I’ve just made love and am asked to perform again!”
His career choice was sports (cricket). His parents felt there was no future there. Then his love of cinema drew him to story-telling and acting. He told his family that after a stint at the National School of Drama, he would lecture at Jaipur University (laughter all round). At NSD he wondered why the plays chosen were always Brechtian. Why not plays that he felt at home with? When Mira Nair cast him in Salaam Bombay, he was sent to Mumbai to study and mingle with the city’s riff-raff.
Talking of the directors he has worked with in India and abroad, each was a different, telling experience. He mentioned Paan Singh Tomar and its director Tigmanshu Dhulia, also Asif Kapadia in whose The Warrior he played the lead.
The glamour of stardom is a superficiality. What matters to this remarkable actor is the technique and style that bring a role to life. “Publicity forces one to play the star.”
David Cronenberg joined TIFF CEO Piers Handling and artistic director Noah Cowan to announce the The David Cronenberg Project. This is an autumn-long celebration of the famed Canadian director’s 40-year career. It includes a full retrospective of the director’s films, a touring exhibition of four decades of accumulated props, costumes, memorabilia and filmic experiences, opening at the TIFF’s cinema complex, the Bell Lightbox, in November. The legendary Canadian director has just finished his 21st film, Maps to the Stars.