Irrfan Khan never got a chance to write his memoirs. If he had done so it would have been fascinating. Irrfan very literally, never lied. This is not the same as those truth-swearing braggarts who keep saying they never lie to convince themselves more than anyone else. Irrfan was brutally honest. And this quality showed up in his work. It also reflected in his life, and his workplace attitude. Here are some incidents from his life that showed up his honesty.
1. Maiden project: Irrfan made one of his maiden appearances in Govind Nihalani’s most unusual marital drama Drishti where Irrfan played Dimple Kapadia’s husband Shekhar Kapur’s nephew who has an affair with her. Irrfan had to do a long intimate lovemaking sequence with Dimple, and he was petrified that he would touch in the wrong places. Dimple put him at ease. Women were always a guiding force in Irrfan’s life.
2. Always A Warrior: Indie director Asif Kapadia, better known for his documentaries on Amy Winehouse and Maradona, directed Irrfan in his first international breakthrough film way back in 2001. The film Warriorgot disqualified from the Oscars’ shortlist for the Best Foreign Film from Britain because the language was Hindi. Irrfan couldn’t stop laughing. He could see the humour in cultural segregation.
3. Westward Chalo: Making it big in the West was never a burning ambition for Irrfan, though he did feel bad about how Indian cinema got left behind from international award every year. He once told me, “We're yet to make inroads into the West and the way Chinese cinema is made. I mean, long before Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Bruce Lee had made an impact on the Western audience with his Enter The Dragon. Indian cinema is yet to make that kind of impact. But we're getting there.”
5. Irrfan, no Khan: Irrfan dropped his surname after being subjected to Islamaphobic surveillance in the US. He told me, “It happened to me on two occasions. I was detained in New York and Los Angeles airport for secondary interrogation. I was outraged. I was told to quietly come into a room for questioning and identification verification. I wasn’t allowed to talk. When I tried to ask why I was being treated this way, I was told to keep quiet. I wasn’t allowed to use my phone. They said, ‘No, you just sit down.’ All because my name was Irrfan Khan. You can’t argue or rationalize.” Surname or no name, Irrfan remained the most talented Khan in Bollywood.
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