Irrfan Khan (1967-2020): An artist of understated elegance and grace
By Kavita Chhibber
I had a weird premonition the past two weeks. I kept asking Ajit to watch Maqbool. For #Irrfan Khan.
I went to see Angrezi Medium, on the first day, and Ajit left work to accompany me. For Irrfan Khan.
Corona hit soon after, the film was yanked off theaters, but I felt such a sense of accomplishment, such joy on seeing him on screen, (first day, first show) filling an otherwise mediocre movie with his aura and as always, with another impeccable performance.
It came as easy to him as breathing.
There was something about Irrfan, that X factor, that sets someone apart from the rest. He shone in bit roles, he shone in big roles…he just strode so far ahead of everyone else. And with such understated elegance and grace.
But it must be how he made his co stars feel, that no one grudged him his brilliance. You didn’t hear of insecurity or roles being slashed, having co actors dropped,or gamesmanship by stars who could indulge in it, because they didn’t want another to shine.
It seems Irrfan was able to win people with kindness and thoughtfulness off screen, just as he could on screen with his stellar performances.
They say the soul of a person, is reflected through their work. I am grateful that his soul dazzled our eyes. Left us satiated and wanting more at the same time.
Just like my other all time favorite Heath Ledger, Irrfan Khan left too soon. And I feel grateful I can mention their names together. They truly are so similar in their brilliance.
I heard such beautiful stories about Heath Ledger from director par excellence Shekhar Kapur.
And now I quietly capture written gems about Irrfan from those who walked parallel paths, and through his own words.
He was so candid about his struggles with cancer, so full of grace when acceptance came, and he began to truly appreciate the magic of moments we often take for granted. His wife Sutapa his strength, his fellow warrior.
I remember reading how close he was to his mother. She passed a few days ago at 95. He was only 53. I visualize them both hand in hand joyfully beginning the next chapter in their soul’s journey. As my favorite director Hrishikesh Mukherjee said through Anand ” Babu moshai, Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin”( life should be grand and not merely long to paraphrase it loosely). And Irrfan’s was larger than life.
Whenever someone special leaves the planet, I return to this poem, Death be not proud. Because special souls always live on..Irrfan is our Anand. He lives on as long as his work and fans remain on this planet. He will live on in our tears and our smiles when we sit and watch his films over and over again. I know I will. I loved his movies and love him through the characters he played. Always with integrity to his craft. He loved music. I saw him reacting to some compositions with a cry that was as primitive as ancient civilizations, his heart expanding. His acting made me feel that way. And now he is one with the divine. May his soul continue to expand. May the celestial music play for him eternally.
“Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow And soonest our best men with thee do go Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die”
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