“Irrfan has been playing character roles, villains, supporting leads and parallel hero for quite some time now. Not many know that he had made his debut way back in 1988 with Salaam Bombay. He came into limelight first with Kasoor (2001) where he played a lawyer and though the decade gone by has only seen an increase in stocks for him, he was never considered as a leading man who could pull audience just on his own. With Paan Singh Tomar he has managed to achieve that”, says a trade veteran.
It isn’t as if he didn’t get opportunities to play solo leads before. Films like Maqbool, Rog, 7 1/2 Phere, Deadline, Apna Aasmaan, Tulsi, Billu and Hissss did feature him as the central protagonist. While most of them came and disappeared without making any noise whatsoever, a couple of them did fetch him critical acclaim. However, now with Paan Singh Tomar he has finally managed to make it big.
“Khair, der aaye durust aaye. May be I am going through a reverse cycle”, jokes Irrfan when informed about him being the only 50 year old ever to have delivered a solo success in last so many years.
On a serious note he adds, “More than my own success, I am very happy that a film like this is being seen. It is clear that the world has joined the race that Paan Singh Tomar ran. My heart goes out to his family; their story deserved to be heard. Also, I hope with this film the Government recognizes the fact that athletes are country’s treasure and they can’t be left to fend on their own.”
What is closest to his heart is some of the compliments he has received from the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Shabana Azmi other than Anurag Kashyap and many other Bollywood celebrities. “Yes, Bachchan saab sent a beautiful bouquet and has been lavish with compliments. Such endorsement means a lot for this film.”
Last one heard; buoyed by the good response to the film, the makers are now releasing greater number of prints in B and C centers as well. Guess Paan Singh Tomar wouldn’t stop running for at least some more time.