A year has gone by since we lost one of our finest actors. Nothing has changed. We still have Covid. And we still have painful memories of Irrfan’s going away. But we also have his superlative performances that will never leave us. During this last one Irrfan the cult of Irrfanism has grown.
Actors/filmmakers regularly call up after discovering Irrfan in films and performances they had missed or had not paid attention to. That’s the downside of excellence. When there is so much of it you tend to overlook some of it. When you get Lataji singing Madan Mohan’s Aapki nazron ne samjha in Anpadh you tend to over Jiya le gayo ji mora saawariya. When Irrfan gave you Ashoke Ganguli in The Namesake and Salim Rajabali im Yun Bhi Hota Hai during the same year(2006) you can be forgiven for overlooking the latter, though it was an equally brilliant performance.
Yun Bhi Hota Hai is Naseeruddin Shah’s only directorial effort. In it Irrfan plays a rich spoilt brat who has a relationship with an older woman. Irrfan’s mother was played by Saroj Khan.“Who gets the privilege of Sarojji playing his mother?” Irrfan had wondered. I am sure the two are having a good laugh at Naseer’s expense.
I remember how proud Irrfan was of being accepted as a Bhadra Lok in The Namesake. His greatest fear was that he would get the Bengali accent wrong. But Irrfan looked and spoke like a true-blue Bengali in The Namesake. Which is more than can be said about his co-star Tabu.
Tabu and Irrfan shared a terrific rapport. I think she was his most favourite co-star. He did extraordinary intense and passionate love-making scenes with Tabu in both Maqbool and The Namesake and was looking to complete his intense/passionate films with the actress.Alas , the films that Irrfan did with Tabu after Maqbool and The Namesake had no scope for any intimacy between them.
Irrfan did three films with Tabu after Maqbool and The Namesake. But in Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi he had not a single shot with Tabu . In Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider also Irrfan shares no screen space with Tabu. In Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar where Irrfan plays a police officer investigating the death of a young girl Tabu plays Irrfan’s wife for exactly three minutes. Irrfan had regretfully told me once, “I really want to do one more intense film with Tabu after Maqbool and The Namesake to complete our trilogy of passionate films.”
Alas, that was not meant to be. Irrfan was gone too soon, leaving behind his kindness and simplicity. I remember once long ago a text message meant for another actor had gone to Irrfan. I didn’t realize my mistake until Irrfan called and chuckled, “I was wondering what you were so worked up about.”
I remember his kindness towards my daughter who was studying journalism at Columbia University in NY and needed to speak to Irrfan for her research paper. Irrfan adjusted his clock according to her time zone, spoke at length with her and then texted me anxiously to know if she got what she wanted.
In an industry filled with mere lip –service Irrfan meant what he said, and it showed in his performances.
Image Source: Instagram/irrfan
Image Source: Instagram/irrfan