Irrfan Khan is currently shooting for a comedy, on the sets of which HT Café caught up with him for a tête-à-tête. The actor has several releases this year including two big international projects. Does he think that he is going through the best phase of his career? “I just know that this is the year when I chose the stories that I really wanted to associate myself with,” says Irrfan.
Ask him if he signs projects based on what appeals to him or what sells, and he says, “It is not that I like the role and the director, but the story is not what I would like to be part of, but still I used to do that because you’re an actor,” says Irrfan, adding, “It is based on everything. You also look at it from an angle whether the audience will enjoy it, because there is a lot of money involved. Also, if it is just not something that is fluffy, timepass. It should be something that has layers. You think about all the aspects. Every actor has to think about it.”
Many actors are dabbling in foreign film industries, especially Hollywood. Is it because of actors like him, who have been instrumental in paving the way for the others? “It is not just me. I’m one of the actors, sure. Hollywood has opened up for the Indian market. It is open to talent and variety. Also, after the emergence of new online streaming platforms, this is the greatest opportunity for Indian talent to make their mark in the West, especially directors. If they can come up with a good series, they will be known in the international circuit, and that’s a great opportunity,” says the actor.
When asked about Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, who have carved a niche for themselves in the West, Irrfan says, “They have got a good break and have done a great job. I wish them luck, and I wish that they play a long innings there.”
Irrfan has always been quite vocal about his views on relevant matters. Ask him if actors usually refrain from stating their opinions, especially on religious or political issues, owing to the nature of repercussions, and he says, “Yes, actors are soft targets. And they are not encouraged to give their opinions. Therefore, if you feel it might affect certain people, then you refrain from speaking up. But if it is helping a cause then maybe you would like to do it.”
However, how important is it that public figures voice their opinions and help raise awareness about social issues? “It would help for sure. That is why they are being shunned, because it doesn’t suit them (the opinion makers). An actor’s voice is a powerful one. It does help shape people’s opinions, but the opinion makers would not want another strong personality to counter them. So that’s why they are not encouraged.”
The actor will next be seen in Hindi Medium and two other international projects.