t2’s fun day out with a dapper irrfan khan

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By Text: Saionee Chakraborty Pictures: Rashbehari Das What do you like about the actor Irrfan Khan? Tell t2@abp.in
  • Published 16.11.14

Thursday, 11am. Irrfan Khan’s room in The Oberoi Grand

Knock, knock.

“Please come in. Why will you wait outside?” he calls out. The man is at the breakfast table in a white bathrobe, rolling a cigarette, legs crossed, a smile on his lips.

The star of The Lunchbox and Life of Pi has been camping in town to shoot for Shoojit Sircar’s Piku for the past 10 days. Today, he’s made time to chat with t2 and also discuss his wardrobe with designer Abhishek Dutta.

First, the clothes. He picks a khaki jacket, says no to a red one. He flits in and out of the closet room, trying on shirts, trousers, jackets... never taking too long and without any fuss.

Time is flying fast as Irrfan has to reach a Keyatala Road studio for dubbing at 1pm. So we scoot off. He walks down the Grand arcade even as people start huddling around.

“It’s always a change when you come to Calcutta. It gives you a kind of relief. The culture and the rhythm are different and nice. The city is warm,” he says, before getting into a Jaguar that rolls off to Prinsep Ghat.

A few of Irrfan’s favourites

Actors: Marlon Brando. He used to live the moment in front of the camera. He didn’t try to pretend. He found a way to breathe in front of the camera. You didn’t see a pressure to perform. He created magic with simplicity. Brando showed both his masculine and feminine sides. He was a combination, which is very rare… the vulnerability. I also like Gerard Depardieu. Folk actors nahin hote? He has that element. In Life of Pi, he just says that one line and it penetrates you…. I have not met him in person, but he must be fantastic. I saw some of Matthew McConaughey’s films after Dallas Buyers Club.

Actresses: Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet. Nahin... there are many. I also like Juliette Binoche. The way Cate Blanchett approaches the role, what she brings out and how she experiments. I haven’t seen a performance like Cate Blanchett’s in Blue Jasmine. I don’t know what happened to me. It was an orgasmic euphoria that I felt. Juliette Binoche’s understanding of the human psyche, her intelligence, her beauty… she has that rare combination, especially in Leos Carax’s films… the way he has shot her (logs on to his iPad). There is a profoundness in her understanding of humanity, life and world. Mauvais Sang (clicks on the film’s link)… I think he must be in love with her. Definitely.

Directors: I don’t remember if I’ve ever waited this way… you are almost like a child… that I am going to see that film, that excitement that you used to have in childhood about cinema… (Christopher) Nolan is fantastic. My favourite director was Stanley Kubrick. Krzysztof Kieslowski. Andrei Tarkovsky… the earlier films of Satyajit Ray… the Apu Trilogy. The first film (Pather Panchali) he did, it was so organic. He learnt it on the job. That has a kind of mystery. He was discovering the craft. Ritwik Ghatak… Meghe Dhaka Tara. I love all his films. I watch it with subtitles.

TV series: True Detective. A lot of interesting work is happening on American TV. The studios are only making studio kind of films. So, the independent talent is not finding freedom in cinema. So, that’s why they are pouring all their energy into TV. That’s why there is fantastic writing.

Last DVD watched: I saw one of Ibrahim El Batout’s film in Abu Dhabi and I was like... someone in Egypt is making such cinema! I asked him to give me his early films. And the kind of budget… small budget… do, teen log milke film banate hain. Amazing work!

Food: I like good food, but I don’t like rich food. From Chinese to Thai to Continental to Mediterranean to local Indian food… but generally, I prefer vegetarian, except kabhi kabhi Shami Kebab. I don’t eat Chinese in India.

Music: I keep listening to Leonard Cohen. Once I had seen a documentary on Turkish music and I came across a song that I can hear a thousand times. I kept listening to it the whole night. The longing in that song is so beautiful. So magical, beautiful, innocent… someone trying to submerge oneself into god.

Gadget: I am not hooked to any other gadget except my desktop because I watch films there.

Designer Abhishek Dutta does the first fitting with Irrfan. A khaki muslin jacket with a midnight-blue shirt, a pair of denims and shades. Killer! Change. An olive green jacket, a white linen shirt and denims.
Irrfan at Prinsep Ghat. “The Ganga is always fascinating and mysterious. A strange emotion is generated whenever you are near it. That’s the magic of the river. You always wish that it could have been cleaner though,” he says.
“Sir, Gunday ka dialogue, please?!” was the request from this bunch of schoolkids. “In these times, there is a bombardment of information. One has to really see beyond information and develop one’s own understanding. You are being informed but that is not your knowledge. Your experience is your knowledge,” was Irrfan’s message for his fans.