Remembering Irrfan: A rare soul and artiste
It has been a year since the distinguished actor Irrfan passed away and many peers and friends from the entertainment industry and audiences often remember the charismatic persona that Irrfan was. The Padma Shri left a mark on the world not just with his performances and films but also with his personality and interactions. A few directors, who knew the National-Award winning actor on a personal and professional level, talk about the Irrfan they met, loved and lost.
Unfortunately, we worked on just one film, Billu (2009). When I met him for the first time, I felt that I already knew him. I have worked with so many actors in 94 films but with Irrfan, I never felt he was an actor but an ordinary man who I knew and had met somewhere in life. It was his simplicity that blew me. He was so true to his job, which even Shah Rukh (Khan, actor) and I would talk about. Instead of his makeup room, he would stay back on the sets and even the junior artistes thought he was one among them. I loved that about him. The last time I spoke him before he went for his surgery and he was feeling low. I told him to be positive and tried to cheer him up. He had such an innocent smile and today, when I see his photos or movies, I feel sad. Some people live in your hearts forever, even if you haven’t known them for a long time.
During our relatively brief interaction, I saw that Irrfan really enjoyed telling and listening to stories and the craft of writing and creating characters. He absorbed life around him constantly, with an abiding thirst. He brought these observations to his performances. This was all quite fascinating to watch. As an actor, what I really liked was the gentle way in which he traversed that mysterious zone between comic and tragic. It’s very easy to make a performance one-dimensional, either only funny or only sad. Irrfan merged both these seemingly different genres. Very much like how it is in life. And I loved that he did this with the character of Yogi in Qarib Qarib Single (2017)
What I remember the most about him is that he was an absolutely amazing and spontaneous person, particularly when it came to his performances. He managed to shock me as a director with his performance, often when we shot for Blackmail. It was always ten times more or in a direction that you anticipated. He had the magic of spontaneity and had control over his craft.
I had gone to meet him at his home after he returned from London, after a year of his treatment. We chatted for an hour as he was doing well. He told me that the biggest problem with humans is that we take everything for granted. Don’t take things for granted. Where you are today and where you will be tomorrow can be dramatically different. One can’t say, how life changes! We should remember him happily with a smile as such souls and artists are rare.