After playing multiple characters in many award-winning films, now Irrfan Khan will be seen in the role of a Sikh for the first time in his next film, Qissa
The actor is proud that the film won the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) award at the recent 38th Toronto International Film Festival. Here, Irrfan talks about the film and the challenges of playing a Sikh, among other things.
You are playing a Sikh for the first time. How has that experience been?
I have never spoken Punjabi in my life, so it was difficult for me. Maintaining the look was tough as well. If you aren’t used to the pagdi (the turban) and you have to wear it every day, it becomes difficult. Then there were portions in the film which are grim, performance-wise.
Qissa is a serious film and revolves around a man and his quest to be connected with his source. I was proud to get the award, as were the producers, Johannes Rexin and Nina Lath Gupta. It encourages them to make more sensitive films like this.
Did you choose the role because you wanted to play a Sikh character?
No, that was not the criteria. The role could have been of a Mexican or a Madrasi, but the director (Anup Singh) is a Sikh. So he made the character Sikh too. Anup and I have worked together earlier too, and I felt he was a promising filmmaker. This film is so heart-warming that it will remain with the audience for years. The film is about the Partition; the separation and the conflicts one faces when put in that situation. My character is tough. He longs for a boy, an heir, but has four daughters. So he brings up the fourth one as a boy.
What has your experience at international film festivals been like so far?
I enjoy festivals. It is fun to watch so many movies at one venue. However, I usually go to film festivals to promote my movies, so I end up working instead of enjoying the screenings.
Irrfan Khan at the promotional event of Life of Pi.