From Pan Singh in ‘Pan Singh Tomar’ to Ashoke Ganguly in ‘The Namaste’, from Mr. Fernandes in ‘The Lunchbox’ to Rana in ‘Piku’, it is quite impossible to imagine these characters without Irrfan. For a boy born in a small town of Rajasthan, it was a dream come true when he reached Bombay- the city of dreams. He knew that it was going to be both arduous and challenging but the only thing he came here with was determination. Irrfan worked hard and struggled and perhaps this is what made him so connected and attached to the people, unlike any other actor.
Irrfan’s success story is a testimony of his great acting skills. His career began from playing side roles in movies and serials. His beginnings were far from comfortable. His hard work finally yielded fruit in the early 2000s with his starring roles in Maqbool and Haasil. “You change the script, you change the character and you will see a different Irrfan.” his brother recalls. Irrfan was never Irrfan Khan on screen, he always became the character. What impressed the audience most about him was the fact that even when Irrfan did succumb to Hindi film stardom, he made sure that the script got elevated as is evident in Anurag Basu’s ‘Life in a Metro’.
Then came the Hollywood phase in Irrfan’s life. He played key roles in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ‘Acid Factory’ and ‘Life of Pi’. Most of us know what a small role he played in Life of Pi, yet he dedicated all his energy to that part. His dialogues in the latter part of the movie are worth remembering not merely because they are relevant but also because of the way he said them. It is disheartening to see though that he actually needed some international praise to earn recognition amongst the Indian folk. When Life of Pi was able to win numerous Oscars, it was the first time he expressed his urge and desire to win an Oscar one day. A fact that people might not know is that Irrfan rejected the offer to act in both ‘Interstellar’ and ‘The Martian’- both of which ended up as blockbusters.
Irrfan inspired all those young actors who wish to become someone big someday. His life revolved around the word ‘struggle’. His emotions and expressions are things that are unparalleled on the screen. Irrfan won the National award for best actor for playing the role of Pan Singh Tomar. He even won the Padma Shri in 2011. Awards weigh very less in front of such a big personality. It seemed like he was born to go for big and achieve more. From a student at the National School of Drama to reaching the zenith of both Bollywood and Hollywood, Irrfan was one of those who taught us that if you have the talent and possess the skill, there is nothing that can stop you.
His sudden demise stunned all. He was suffering from a colon infection since 2018. His last film ‘Angrezi Medium’ couldn’t gather much support due to the pandemic. He is not someone who can be expressed or told by an obituary. His life and lessons are all in the public domain. He will always be remembered for his versatility and simplicity. His death appeared like a personal loss for all of us. That is the impression he made in the hearts of people. Many influential people including Bollywood celebrities paid tribute to this legend. However, the biggest tribute to him would be to work hard and be patient as he always used to preach. Lastly, in his words-“I suppose in the end, the whole life becomes an act of letting go.” You will always be remembered Irrfan.
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