Irfan, a performer on the Star Plus reality show Just Dance, was given the task to come up with an innovative act to pay homage to national heroes and salute the spirit of Independence Day. The dancer, one of the top contenders on the show, designed an act keeping slain police official Hemant Karkare, who died a martyr in the 26/11 terror attacks in the city, in mind.
“I had tears in my eyes when I watched the news that day. The way he selflessly sacrificed his life, it gave me goose bumps. I couldn’t believe that in today’s day and age, someone could be such a law abiding and fearless officer. I saluted him in my heart, and today, I got a chance to salute him on national TV.”
The contestant mixed songs like ‘Mera rang de basanti chola…’ with Rang De Basanti’s (2006) title track and background scores for his act. He wanted to take people back to that black Wednesday and the emotions that gripped peoples’ hearts when the officer breathed his last. Does Karkare’s family know about the act?
“I don’t know. I hope they will appreciate it. I told my parents about it and my ammi (mother) was happy. I’m sure she was also crying because like every other Indian, she also felt a sense of loss when Hemant sir died,” says Irfan, adding, “She’d also told me that at some point, I would also prove that my community feels as much a part of this country as any other. So, it became a challenge for me.”
When asked if he has ever faced discrimination on the grounds of his religion in professional or social spheres, he admits that he did go through a bad patch after the Gujarat riots.
“There was suspicion in the air. All of us were looked at with anger. The community was under the scanner,” recalls Irfan, adding that he believes things have changed now. “Everyone knows that we are a civilian community, like any other. We live happily and peacefully; that’s what matters now.”