Being one of the most well-known Indian actors in international cinema comes with its own set of expectations. Thankfully Irrfan Khan — he is currently awaiting the release of his next Hollywood biggie (co-starring Tom Hanks) — is well-aware of these pressures.
“I’m the one who has created this (standards), and I am happy about that as that is what I expect of myself too. I can’t do formula films. I can do one or two, maybe as time pass, but I can’t keep doing such films. I have to do movies that stay with me, for some reason or the other,” he says.
Irrfan believes a film “should speak to the audience” once they leave the theatre. “That’s what I have been trying to do. It is a great thing, when people have expectations of you. We have a fantastic young audience, and they have surprised me and how. I exist because of them. They have appreciated and acknowledged my films,” says the actor.
According to Irrfan, this phase of his career began with Paan Singh Tomar (2012). “It had an unusual structure, and was a frightening thing to attempt. We were so confused with the language… we wondered how people would understand certain local terms,” he says, adding, “But the credit goes to the audience and the director (Tigmanshu Dhulia). I was surprised at how the audience enjoyed it… it was nice to see that. That’s how the audience is surprising me.”
Even though his performance in Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar (2015) made headlines, Irrfan didn’t think a “technical film” like this one, which had so much information in it, would do well. “Piku (2015) too wasn’t a formula film. It didn’t have a story or a structure, but still, it was well received by the audience. It is a great time for films,” he says.
Nonetheless, Irrfan feels that sometimes, as an actor, “you keep on doing other people’s stories”. “Someone chooses the story and you have to fit in. It’s not your own,” he says. That’s why he wants to ensure that the stories he believes in get made.