Earlier this month, Amitabh Bachchan called Paan Singh Tomar "a biopic true to life and detail." And now as Tigmanshu Dhulia’s latest offering goes on to become a sleeper hit (earning Rs 13.5 crore by Thursday), actor Irrfan (he prefers to be known only by his first name) plans to go big on biopics. In fact, he has come up with a number of such story ideas.
"I am looking forward to doing more biopics (in the future). And yes, I have some ideas too but I don’t want to disclose the subjects right now. To be honest, I am waiting for the right circumstances and passionate producers for those films, people who put their trust in the stories and me. There are a few dream roles I would love to do and they happen to be biopics," says Irrfan.
Hasn’t he already been approached to play Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus from Bangladesh in Banker To The Poor? "Yes, I even gave my consent to it. But I don’t know what’s happening to it now," says the actor, who was honoured with the Padma Shri last year. "For me, (real) life is much more interesting than fiction. And biopics always have an element of ‘life’ that constructed storylines don’t."
In July, Irrfan will be seen playing Dr Ratha in Marc Webb’s biggie The Amazing Spiderman. Does all the talk about the size of his role make him feel pressured? "No. Bahut saari films aati hai, kisi mein aapka role aacha hota hai, bada hota aur kabhi chota hota hai. How can you pre-empt (before the film opens)? I need to watch the film before making a comment on it. At least, I was told that it’s a pivotal role. Since Marc (Webb) is a superb director, I am sure he must have made an interesting film because the script is very good," he says.
The A Mighty Heart actor plans to visit the US around April-May to watch the film. Will he attend its various premieres? "I am not sure as yet because I have already given my dates around that time (to other films). If it’s needed, I will go to some places for sure. But I haven’t scheduled anything yet," he says.
Later this year, he will also be seen in Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, a film that he says is as challenging as In Treatment and The Namesake were. "Challenging because of its subject matter and Ang Lee. Plus, the novel is unique. To be the story’s narrator makes it even more challenging. If you are playing just a character, it’s not very difficult but when you become the God of the story as its narrator, besides keeping in mind how Ang Lee wants it, it becomes quite a challenge," he says.
Q&A with Irrfan You dropped your surname ‘Khan’ earlier this month?
I didn’t do it earlier this month; I dropped it 10 to 15 years ago. It’s not a new thing. If you Google it, you will find this in old stories.
But why is it being highlighted only now?
Because Paan Singh Tomar (PST) has suddenly got some attention (smiles).
You’re missing out on celebrating the success of PST?
Absolutely. I’m feeling very restless. But this commitment with Qissa is seven-eight months old. I didn’t know that things would collide then. An international unit is working on the film so I can’t leave, because then they’ll have nothing to do. But I will definitely party once I am back in April.
Happy about what people are calling your first ‘solo’ success?
More than my own success, I am happy that cinema is changing albeit in a small way. The audience needs variety. I’m not saying that they want to watch an art film. They need something that can entertain and touch them emotionally besides making them laugh and cry. A film should have their voice. Ticket prices are high so today, they want a film to be worth every penny.
Was shooting PST tough?
Physically, it was straining. But if you connect to the story, then at the end of day, you enjoy the process. It used to be ridiculously hot in the day in the valley. But this is all a trial of sorts. At times, for a story, such experiences become important.
Were you upset about the delay in the film’s release?
It was painful with a feeling of helplessness. You don’t want to go through such experiences in your career. You put your heart, soul, blood and sweat into a film, but you can’t control certain things. But if the film hadn’t released at all, that would have been a tragedy.
On one hand, you have PST and on the other, you’re also in The Amazing Spiderman and Life Of Pi. How are you managing this?
It’s my desire, as an actor, to find good stories and films that mesmerise me. As long as I am an actor, that’s my religion and job. I want to experience and be moved by stories, and experience that with viewers.
You must have always had filmmakers running after you...
Yes. But I get so many stories that try to deceive audiences. Makers want to show that they are concerned about society. If you are trying to show the world that you are a concerned human being, then why are you making films? Say whatever you want to, but not in an in-the-face manner. I’m allergic to such issue-based, boring cinema. I want to do films that are concerned, but also engage. Audiences aren’t interested in listening to our sermons or learning about life from us.
What is Qissa about?
It’s an interesting and very poetic film. It’s like folklore that talks about a long journey of a person. We’re making it in Punjabi.