One whole day has gone by and I still ache. Something is amiss, and yet, there is no fixing it. I always felt a strong connection with Irrfan but I never thought it would so hard. I guess If I had reflected hard enough, the signs were all there for me to see. Irrfan was never just another actor that I liked, he was so much more than that. So I decided to write this post, in the hope that in some way, this will lessen the pain.
Normally, admiration for someone is built over time. If I admire an actor, it would not be based on the first performance I see, but rather over a span of multiple performances. However, with Irrfan, it reached a crescendo in a matter of 2.5 hours. In 2003, I was a 1st year engineering student, living in the hostel. Since it was year 1, very few of us had our own computers. One night, I got a call from my favourite senior, inviting me and my friends to a movie screening in his hostel room. The 5 of us took our spots across the 8X10 room, but not one of us had ever heard of this film. Just a few minutes into the film, the first thought that came to me was "Yaar yeh Jimmy Shergill toh bada sahi hai, yeh mohabbatein mein kya kar raha tha?".
As the film went on, I got to see more and more of Irrfan and his performance was truly captivating. I was so intrigued by the subtlety in his performance and how he used his eyes and body language. Then, at close to 40 mins into the film, Irrfan just blasted away with the scene "Arrey aake maar saala seene pe goli". The scene ended and I am sure I was sitting with eyes as wide as Irrfan's, wondering what I had just witnessed. It was pure genius, a thing of beauty, something I had never experienced in my life. The sheer range that this man possessed was remarkable.
What was even more impressive about Irrfan was that there was not even a single frame where he looked like he was acting. He was Ranvijay Singh aka Ranvijay Bhaiya, a student of Allahabad University, a hot-blooded Thakur, a budding politician, all of it. There was no acting involved and that stands true till date, across numerous films, good, bad and ugly. So after watching Haasil, I made a pledge to myself. To complete this pledge, I did the most logical thing any 18-year-old would do at such a time. I Irritated the crap out of my mother until she agreed to get me the VCD of Haasil. Thankfully, I got the VCD during my semester break, pledge completed. I saw Haasil every day for the next 12 days. I still love watching the film, but I guess, now I have lost count of the no. of times I have seen the film (in fact, I saw it again during the course of writing this article).
Till I saw Haasil, I was a somebody who only enjoyed watching films about Mr India, Ajooba, Raj & Simran, Rahul & Anjali, Bhuvan & Capt. Russel, Akash, Sameer & Sid. After Haasil, my love for films and the range of films I enjoyed, both increased manifolds. Today, I enjoy everything from Govinda's Hero No. 1 & Rohit Shetty's Golmaal to Host (Korean), Super Deluxe (Tamil) and American Psycho. This range that I have, is something that makes me very happy and content. I embrace new kinds of cinema with excitement, and I owe all of it to Irrfan and Haasil. It is only apt that I mention what I wrote some years ago in the post Growing up with Cinema.
"...It (Haasil) was the first time that I realized that there can be good films without big stars, there is acting without shouting and a film can also tell realistic stories and still entertain. For me, Haasil is one of the finest pieces of acting I had ever seen. Instantly Irfaan Khan became my favourite Khan and Haasil became my favourite Hindi film."
Writing this has definitely brought a semblance of peace to me but it is certainly not enough. So I guess, for the next few days, I am going to rewatch my favourite Irrfan films and celebrate the man, the actor extraordinaire, and the oblivious catalyst to my passion for cinema. Thank you, Irrfan, for everything you did for me and for the world of cinema.
My Favourite Irrfan Films
The Namesake (2006, Drama)
Currently not streaming