Irrfan Khan isn’t the most media-friendly person — not that he doesn’t like to be in the news, but because he is “shy”. He doesn’t feel the need to talk about himself or his work, unless his film is about to release. But when he talks, he openly expresses his views. Here, Irrfan explains why he isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, the controversy he was embroiled in recently, and more.
Recently, you condemned animal sacrifice during Bakr Eid.
The rituals are there to strike a deeper connection between humans and the cosmos, and at the same time, to liberate human beings from superficiality. When done mechanically, the rituals lose their purpose. I believe we should investigate the purpose behind religious rituals, and not follow them blindly. When the relationship of man and God becomes all about give and take, it has a tendency to distort things. That results in blind faith, and you don’t remain human; you become something else.
Do you think the audience has become too critical of what actors say?
This perception has been created by the media that if you are an actor, why do you need to have an opinion on anything apart from song and dance. I am an actor and everything is my subject. I reflect life through my stories. Life encompasses everything, and not just naach-gaana (song and dance). So, as a performing artiste, it’s a part of my preparation as an actor to look at society in an objective, but critical way.
While talking about the terror attacks in Bangladesh on Facebook, you questioned “the silence of Muslims”. Do you not fear a backlash while making such statements?
I’m not fearful. I believe in India’s diversity. I am thankful to be born in India. It helped me learn about so many religions and cultures. That has made me what I am today. If I was born in a staunch, religious country, I would have been a different person. The cultural diversity of India makes me rich in my thoughts and knowledge. I think India is unique because here, so many cultures breathe and breed together in harmony. Lastly, I believe in the openness of our country and I trust my niyat (intention).
Madaari is in theatres now. What is the best feedback you have received so far?
There has been a lot of emotional and analytical feedback. Some people say it was important to make this film. Some noted directors told me they couldn’t get up after the end credits because they felt weak. Some people are so moved that they don’t want to talk about it. After watching the movie even Deepika (Padukone) said, “I will talk only when I get normal in a couple of days.” That has been the impact of this film. I feel the best part about the reactions is that everyone who has seen the film has encouraged their family to watch it too.
You never talk about your personal life. Do you think this guarded nature has helped you in the industry?
It adds something, I don’t know what though. I am not guarded or protected. It’s just that I find giving interviews boring. I find talking about myself most boring. I am not a good talker. Jo main bolta hoon, aur jo mere andar thoughts hain, main kabhi unko frame nahi kar paata (I am usually unable to frame my thoughts). Another thing that is important for me is that I don’t build up false things. For instance, the moment I sign a Hollywood project, I don’t go gaga over it. When I have just signed a project, how will I know how it will be? How will I know what exactly my role in it will be? Unless I know everything about it, I can’t talk about it. That’s why you don’t see me. I don’t feel the need to comment on each and every thing [that is said about me]. I also hate publicity, because I am a shy guy. When I get too much attention, I feel uncomfortable.