After his fine performances in Paan Singh Tomar and Life of Pi, Irrfan Khan is all set for his next, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns. But it’s getting a National award that’s his biggest dream, says the actor

Irrfan is basking in the glory of being Piscine Molitor Patel. “It’s rocking!” says the actor about life after Life Of Pi. “It’s done exceedingly well all over the world, especially in India and China. I believe the figures have outdone even that of Avatar’s. Of course, I am thrilled.” This engaging actor has hit the bull’s eye with every film of his. Earlier last year, it was Paan Singh Tomar that made everyone sit up and notice and now it is the Ang Lee action drama. And we are not talking about only accolades for his acting. The films have set the cash registers ringing too. “That’s a good thing. Like it or not, filmmaking is a business and has always been so. At the same time, it’s not like the share market. It’s a fascinating world of storytelling. It has to live in people’s psyche long after they have walked out of the theatre. I am glad my films are making that sort of impact,” says Irrfan.

Irrfan is now gearing up for his next release — Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, a sequel to the director’s 2011 film Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster. He plays a character called Raja Bhaiyya in the film and will once more be seen in a new avatar with a moustache and flowing hair. “It’s set in the feudal era and depicts the strength of the feudal lords and their sense of loss at having to give up their power. My character is someone who wants to bring back his lost kingdom, by hook or by crook. It’s an amazing, unpredictable story. The film might even shock viewers. It’s about woman power, in fact. How a woman can be more powerful than the strongest man,” he says, adding, “I would have done anything to get the role that Mahie (Gill) plays in the film.”

A special relationship

Irrfan shares a special relationship with Tigmanshu Dhulia with whom he has worked on almost every film and also given last year’s Paan Singh Tomar. “Tigmanshu is a very important part of my life — as a friend, a human being and as a contemporary artist. We have given each other our best and I really enjoy what he writes. I have often told him that if he were on sale I would buy him outright! The reason is neither of us wants to share the other with anyone else. In fact, he would never come for my movie premieres. Now he has become more generous and comes along,” he smiles.

When asked what kind of films he would like to work in, pat comes the answer, “I like engaging cinema, not just boring art house type. I want to do a film based on music and a good action film. Even comedies. I don’t seem to be getting those.”

Straddling two worlds

Today, Irrfan is proud that he has been able to straddle Hollywood and Bollywood with aplomb. “I am fortunate. English is a universal language and Hollywood has successfully monopolised the markets to an extent that world cinema such as German, Italian and French is dying out. Even our cinema has always been influenced by Hollywood. But it has stuck out because we have a unique element of celebration in our films. I think we must build on this uniqueness. We should stick to it and innovate as this is our differentiating factor. I had seen a French show recently titled Cirque Du Soleil and it had all the elements of Bollywood — songs, comedy and colour. It was done very well,” says the actor.

He seems to have only one desire at the moment and that is the National Award. “I have a feeling that people give me an award only when they are forced to. But what I actually would be proud of is a National Award. I haven’t got it ever and I think Paan Singh Tomar is a special film for which I deserve the award.”

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Cop in!March 14, 2013