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Babil Khan on learning the ropes of acting from his father Irrfan Khan: ‘I watched him closely…’

Babil Khan said he learned the ropes of acting from his father. Irrfan died in 2020 following a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

Babil KhanBabil Khan's Qala is streaming on Neflix. (Photo: Instagram/babil.i.k)
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It has been less than a week that he went from being a budding actor to a newcomer following his feature film debut Qala and Babil Khan says he is in showbiz to explore everything.

In the Netflix psychological drama Qala, director Anvita Dutt introduced the young actor to the audiences as Jagan, a prodigy and God’s child.

Next, he will be seen in Yash Raj Films’ maiden web series The Railway Men, billed as a tribute to the unsung heroes of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

As an actor is in his early 20s, Babil said he doesn’t want to “limit” himself to a certain type of role.

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“I don’t want to define myself because I am too young and inexperienced to know what I want or what I want to explore. I keep my mental state such that I am ready to adapt and explore… To see how I am changing, growing. I am here to explore everything. I am too young to know what I want to do,” Babil said in an interview here.

Son of the late star Irrfan Khan and producer Sutapa Sikdar, Babil Khan said he learned the ropes of acting from his father. Irrfan died in 2020 following a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

“I was raised on a film set. I would visit him on sets of Thank You, Talvar. On Qarib Qarib Singlle, I was a camera intern, so I watched him closely.

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“Without knowing, your mind grasps experiences and it plays in a subconscious state. I would not say that I sat down and analysed him. I was learning just by watching him,” he said.

Babil was always inclined towards filmmaking, but it was when his father was undergoing treatment in London that he mustered the courage to tell him that he wanted to become an actor.

A few years ago, he confided in his father about his interest, following which Irrfan “pushed” him to study films because he wanted his son to first understand the medium.

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“Once I was fed up (during his training period) with an actor as he wasn’t doing his scene properly and as a camera operator, I just paused it saying, ‘You are not doing what the director is asking you to do’, they threw me off the sets. I came back home in a grumpy manner and I told Baba that I want to be an actor. He said, ‘You are so screwed as you admitted that you want to be an actor!’,” he added.

This confession came days before Irrfan’s death.

“After he left, that realisation came that you cannot spend time fearing things that you want to achieve and it was like I have to do this and I love doing this.” He said he was initially “scared” of his father’s towering personality as an actor, thinking if he would ever be able to live up to his name.

“He was aware of how good he was and the pressure I would face,” added Babil, whose first brush with acting came in the eighth standard in the Shakespearian play The Comedy of Errors.

In his first film Qala, he plays Jagan, a playback singer with an angelic voice.

“I related to Jagan’s innocence and I knew if I retain it with all the circus that was happening outside, then I can give some honesty to Jagan,” he said.

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While he was confident about how he wanted to approach the character, Babil said the film’s director had a “mini heart attack” after she heard him sing.

“I was singing in a western style but she looked for a solution. She would pick up specific songs from specific periods with a certain emotion and would send them to me and make me sing those songs. She said, ‘You have to feel it and sing it.'”

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Starring Tripti Dimri in the title role, Qala also features Swastika Mukherjee, Amit Sial, Girija Oak, Abhishek Bannerjee and Swanand Kirkire. The film is produced by Karnesh Ssharma through his banner Clean Slate Filmz.

First published on: 06-12-2022 at 20:40 IST
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