19 days after Irrfan Khan passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer, the country still mourns the legendary actor. What stood out in most tributes is how his loss felt personal to everyone. Irrfan was the people's hero, he looked like them, he talked like them and no amount of international recognition could ever take away his humility.
This was partially because his career shone with roles that stood out from everything that his contemporaries were doing. Be it the National Award-winning Paan Singh Tomar or even a film like Thank You, his script sense always seemed impeccable.
Tigmanshu Dhulia, who directed him in critically acclaimed roles in Paan Singh Tomar, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, Haasil, and Charas, gave an insight to why Irrfan chose certain roles. Their friendship goes back 34 years since they were students of National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi.
“Naturally, when an actor starts his career at that time, he is looking for a big break. So, because Irrfan was somebody who had spent a lot of time training himself as an actor, he was wise enough not to be impatient and waste that entire time which is spent skilling his horns by jumping in a role which was flimsy, or did not have so much beat. He was wise enough to do that when he started his career,” says Tigmanshu.
He adds, “I think that paid off because whatever films he did earlier were all with good directors. With Govind Nahlani, Mira Nair, even in small roles like Buddhadev Dasgupta's Ek Doctor Ki Maut. And then, he worked with friends he knew and had confidence in, like me and Vishal (Bharadwaj). He always kind of did projects, which he thought would make some noise.”
The director had taken to Twitter on May 16th to commemorate the 17th anniversary of Haasil and shared the title of the film had come to him in Irrfan's rented apartment. He also said that the film was an ode to their three decade-long friendship.
I remember the title came to my mind at his rented evershine nagar flat...brainstorming twenty years ago...Haasil. It completes 17 years today, a film which is an ode to our friendship of 34 years and it will never end...you will always guide me my friend— Tigmanshu Dhulia (@dirtigmanshu) May 15, 2020
Tigmanshu said, “Haasil was a very tough film to make and a very tough film to release also. And right from when I got the idea till when the film was released, Irrfan was a part of the journey. He had faith in the film. When he saw the first cut, he said this character is not going to die soon. Which was so true."
When Irrfan had received his first National Award for Paan Singh Tomar in 2013, he had said that his journey was full of disappointments as he had hoped to win one for the role of Ranvijay Singh in Haasil.
When asked if Irrfan received the recognition he deserved late in life, Tigmanshu said, “I don't know what was going on in his mind. In the beginning, the struggle for him was also very hard. He was capable of achieving much more. Whatever he did achieve internationally, nobody, no Indian actor has achieved so much. That's a huge leap from the other contemporary actors.”
"He did not get the National Award because I had a fight with the producer. So out of revenge, he (producer) did not send it (Haasil) for the National Awards, which was a huge blow. I’m sure Irrfan would have got it in 2004. So that delay of nine years, I think that’s what he must be talking about,” Tigmanshu concluded.
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