By ANJALI NAURIYAL
Some people are destined to be immortal! They are meant to stay alive for ever through the excellence of their craft.
Irrfan Khan was amongst those blessed individuals.
His cinematic personality was gargantuan and so extraordinary and charismatic that one felt he would be there for ever to regale us, with his brilliant performances.
Unfortunately for his fans, his stay on Earth was cut short by a dreadful disease, on 29th April. One of the finest actors of Indian cinema, Irrfan Khan is today no more. He fought his disease so well, yet God decided to take him away in the end for other higher purposes we may presume.
Indian cinema will never be the same again. His fans cut across all religious and physical boundaries. Unfortunately they will never again see him essay another role with such panache and consummate skill that he was so adept at. The sense of loss will be there for all times leaving a void that will never be fulfilled.
I had occasion to first meet him on the sets of Tigmanshu Dhulia’s ‘Pan Singh Tomar.’ Later I met him a couple of times in Mumbai and when he was on a secret visit to Doon.
On the sets of Pan Singh he was pepped at the idea of doing a film that promised to create a new genre in Indian Cinema. The year was 2009.
“This is a totally different film that will create its own genre. It is a biopic,” he had surmised. “I am playing a Subedar Major in the Army who went on to become a sports champion (a Steeplechase Champion) and who broke his own record eight times. He represented India in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games. It’s a dream role.” Irrfan never looked back after the super duper success of this film.
Irrfan’s scene was being filmed at Doon’s scenic Maharana Pratap Sports College. He looked dead tired. “This role has taken a toll on me. It has been physically very demanding. But I think the result will be worth it. We have thoroughly enjoyed the locations in Uttarakhand. This is an amazing place,” he had said.
How did he prepare for the role? “Different roles demand different inputs. In this role physical fitness is the main thing,” Khan had reiterated. “Actors have to work a lot on physical fitness all the time.”And fitness is what became his bane in the end.
At that phase in his career he had also pointed out that the real challenge for an actor is to keep getting the roles that he wants to do. “Inspite of all the accolades, etc., I feel there is always so much scope for improvement. The worry always is that one’s film should recover the money invested by the producer. These are not times like the ones when parallel cinema was a movement that was patronized by the government.”
(Dr Anjali Nauriyal is veteran journalist, author, social worker and actor. Her book ‘Retelling of the Folk Ballads of Garhwal’ has become a regional best seller. As an actor she was last seen in a cameo in the film ‘PM Narendra Modi’).