Irrfan speaks on why cinephiles should be addressed regularly and what excellent cinema means to him
There's something about Irrfan. On the screen, he is meticulous and off it, he's articulate. Looking fresh and upbeat, the National Award-winner says that he is optimistic about not only Indian cinema, but about society's approach towards cinema as a whole. He believes film festivals can play an integral role in this upward swing. After inaugurating the fifth edition of Jagran Film Festival (JFF) on Monday, Irrfan indulged hitlist with a freewheeling chat...
Irrfan Pic/Shadab Khan
While the number of award functions in the country keeps growing, the same cannot be said about film festivals...
Yes, there are only a few film festivals of repute in our country. But we must accept that more film festivals are coming up and it's a good thing. As more people get attuned to a piece of cinema that they don't get to watch otherwise, cinema benefits as an entity. Also, we should remember that a film festival is different from an award ceremony where the honours are sold, quite literally. In a film fest, things are more appreciable. But then, the economics between the two events are very different.
What according to you is the significance of film festivals such as JFF?
I think it's very important to host such events in our country. Not just because we get to watch films that we otherwise miss out on, but also because events such as this ensure that more people with similar interests in cinema come together. And that's something that can't be replicated with a Friday show. Overall, film festivals not only entertain but also enlighten the public. And I think they should be encouraged in every possible way.
When was the last time you were part of a film festival jury?
That would be around two years ago, at the Cairo film festival.
Did you enjoy being a jurist?
Not really. I didn't really enjoy the selection process but when you're part of something, you're supposed to put in your 100 per cent and that's what I did back then. I will be part of the jury at the upcoming Abu Dhabi film festival. I hope I enjoy it for a change (smiles). I think every time we try something new, there's some sort of excitement in it.
What do you think about the rise of young filmmakers?
They are all promising. We are seeing a steady change here and that's is a very good thing. Until and unless we change, there will be no progress.
Do you look for certain qualities when a script is offered to you?
That too changes with time. What I wanted to do, say, a year ago, isn't what I want to do right now. An actor's wants keep changing. There's no such thing as an ideal script.
Is it true that you've shifted your priority from Bollywood to Hollywood?
Not at all. I have shifted my priority from mediocre films to excellent films. It doesn't matter where they are shot. I'd go to Timbuktu, Paris or California to fulfill my desire to be part of something memorable.
Is that the reason why you agreed to do Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Haider'?
I agreed because the script was highlighting Kashmir in a very raw form. There was no sugarcoating here. We keep saying that the state is an inalienable part of our country, but do we empathise with a Kashmiri's suffering?