Irrfan Khan: An actor who charmed us all with his performances and persona
Irrfan Khan has been set free from all his pain and suffering as he departs, leaving behind tons of memories and superlative films and performances. Rest in peace, Irrfan Khan, until we meet again!
Irrfan Khan found success even in the harshest of times. The greatest stories are born out of sheer and scarring rejections and that's what Khan had to go through during his early years in the Hindi film industry. I'm reminded of an interview when he spoke about crying profusely on Raghubir Yadav's shoulders after Nana Patekar was given the role he was playing in Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay. But he knew he wanted a life and career in front of the camera.
Another great thing about success is that it never discriminates. Khan's was an unconventional aura yet very charming. He hailed from Jaipur, stayed at Tonk Road and had dreams of making it in Bollywood. The nation saw him for the first time in the immensely successful serial, Chanakya, and his eyes were so gripping and powerful, the viewers couldn't help but be hooked by his persona. He was here to stay.
His early years in Hindi films may have been unsensational but never once anyone doubted his tenacity as an artist. Even in smaller roles like Kasoor and Footpath, you could see the sincerity and earnestness with which he approached these characters. There was something special about his emotions and gravitas that with the same amount of expressions, he could be both chilling and comical. On one hand, we had a film like Gunaah, where he played an inebriated and innocuous police officer, and on the other hand was a film like Hindi Medium, where he made the audiences laugh and even cry.
He won the National Award for Paan Singh Tomar, a film that was driven by rust and robustness, and so was his performance as the eponymous character. It was only after this that he began to get roles that were not only exciting but also very exhilarating, for him and us, both. In The Lunchbox, he played Saajan, an ageing and ordinary man who falls in love with a woman he has never met, thanks to her delicious food that accidentally lands at his office desk. It was a restrained, real, and rousing performance that will always stay as delicious and fresh as the food he consumed.
Another crackling performance was in Shoojit Sircar's Piku, where he was pretty much stuck between a clumsy father and his cantankerous daughter. His deadpan demeanour always works in favour of the films he's a part of, and Piku was one of them. Call it the magic of the narrative or his own Midas touch that even if a single muscle doesn't move on his face, we know exactly how and what he's feeling. And that's precisely what he aspired for, to be a great artist. He never craved fame.
He once said, "Wanting fame is a disease and one day, I want to be free from this disease." Today, by God's will, he has been set free from all his pain and suffering as he departs, leaving behind tons of memories and superlative films and performances. Rest in peace, Irrfan Khan, until we meet again!
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