Actor Irrfan Khan, whose next international film is Puzzle, says he wants 2018 to surprise him just like the year gone by, in which he was able to cross the “bridge” between being a critics’ favourite to the ‘popular’ tag on his terms.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q. How do you look back on 2017? And can we expect from Irrfan in 2018?
For me, the year closed with a bang. The most interesting thing was, I was honoured at the Dubai International Film Festival along with Cate Blanchett who is my most favourite actor. So it couldn’t get any better for me. It has been a great year not only in terms of the releases also special memories of my films The Song Of Scorpions going to Locarno and Doob winning many international awards.
Finally, the long journey from critics to popular acceptance bridged through Hindi Medium and Qarib Qarib Singlle. I want 2018 to surprise me as well.
Q. Congratulations, you’ve won a popular award for Hindi Medium. This is quite a change from the ‘critics’ awards that you usually get. To what do you attribute the mass popularity of Hindi Medium?
A. Hindi Medium has been able to crack the magic of marrying content with popularity. I am happy that the bridge has been crossed from ‘critic’ to ‘popular’ on my own terms. I didn’t have to go the so-called massy route. I must tell you that though I won for Hindi Medium, I was nominated for the Qarib Qarib Singlle role in the popular category as well. Qarib Qarib Singlle has also performed well at the box office.
Q. Which of the two was more difficult to do, and why?
A. For Hindi Medium, the entire effort went into making an aspirational but fantastic story into a relatable tale, whereas in Qarib Qarib Singlle, my effort went into making the role which is fantastic and aspirational as relatable as possible. So in a way, the two roles had to be approached from opposite directions.
Q. At this juncture of your career, how important is it for your performances to reach a wide audience?
A. It has always been important. But the same time, I couldn’t ignore my need to tell the stories in my way and not compromising on the kind of films I wanted to do and reach a mass audience. So, I am happy of the audiences’ need now to watch fresher and newer content. Hence, it is becoming easier to reach a wider audience, a mass audience through my kind of films. So at this juncture, it’s all coming together and happening organically.
Q. Do you see the space between mass entertainers and non-mainstream cinema closing up now?
It began a few years back as Hollywood cinema was becoming stronger and stronger. With time, we are all witness to how regional cinema is becoming bigger. Hindi cinema can no longer ignore the audience’s need for fresher content. It is now a necessity to have fresher way of story telling if Hindi cinema wants to remain big and survive.