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Maqbool rules in popularity stakes

Irrfan Khan's power-packed performances have made an impact in tinsel town

PROTRUDING EYES, bleary looks, exploits without words, the Indian Macbeth is here, and the reincarnation is called Miyan Maqbool, Irrfan Khan's latest role in Vishal Bharadwaj's take on the Bard's literary opus, dissecting the psyche of the underworld dons and licentious policemen in Mumbai.

"Maqbool is a complex character because it involves many emotions like love, loyalty, betrayal and guilt. I was nervous in the beginning because I was doing a love story for the first time. Fortunately, Vishal arranged a two-week workshop, which helped in getting into the character. We all read out our parts, it developed a bond between all the characters, and the comfort level appears on screen. Tabu interacted with me and helped me in shedding my inhibitions."

Irrfan says that the character is so intriguing and taxing that had he gone into the specifics of it, it could have become boring for the common audience. "What I did was, I emphasised some broad sentiments taking a cue from what's going to happen next in the script. For instance, the sense of personal insecurity starts appearing on Maqbool's face the moment Nimmi (Tabu) starts instigating him against his mentor Abbaji (Pankaj Kapoor). But definitely, I would not have played Macbeth this way on stage," apprises the National School of Drama product.

Irrfan feels that most filmmakers think that it is just a dialogue medium and don't realise the importance of facial expressions in films. "They want to say everything in the form of dialogues, which are just a part of the cinematic language. Silence, background sound and time lapse, also have their relevance in conveying the message but are often ignored. This is one of the reasons that now I refrain from doing television serials, because there they want to put even the obvious into your mouth, which as an actor sometimes gets on your nerves. You have to be a Pankaj Kapoor to enjoy the small medium. The man is as hungry to perform as he was when I first worked with him in Ek Doctor Ki Maut".

Irrfan, who has himself directed some episodes for Star Bestsellers maintains that the new breed of directors like Asif Kapadia, Vishal and Sriram Raghvan are ready to experiment and it is creditable considering these are not the days of patronage like the `70s. "I am amazed the way Ek Hasina Thi has been shot. Particularly the scene where the actors play the lie-game is world class. The credit must go to Sriram, as the film could have easily become loud. And the fact that it is doing reasonably well, proves that audience is there for such films."

Success has come late in Irrfan's life with his British film, Asif Kapadia's The Warrior receiving nomination for the Oscars, though later it was spiked for technical reasons and his realistic performance as a student leader, Ranvijay Singh in Haasil, winning him the Screen Award for the best villain. "It feels good to be appreciated, more than that it motivates you to do more, to experiment more. As for The Warrior, I felt defeated for a while. It was really silly to hold a technically correct film just because it was made in Hindi in Britain. But now that stage is over."

With roles like "a disillusioned police officer" in Charas, "a useful nikkamma" in Sapna Hai and a "foreign returned" in "Dubai Return", Irrfan really seems to have arrived on the popularity charts.


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