Mira Nair recalls how she met Irrfan and remained friends with him after Salaam Bombay


Mira Nair’s The Namesake is taken into account among the finest works of Irrfan Khan and the filmmaker now shares the story of how she met and developed a long-lasting friendship with the actor, who died after a battle with neuroendocrine tumour.

While scouting expertise for her 1988 characteristic Salaam Bombay!, Nair went to the National School of Drama in Delhi the place she noticed the then 18-year-old actor – “tall and gangly and angular like a praying mantis”.

“And of course, he had this extraordinary face. He was only 18, but he still had a craggy face and those hooded eyes. The interesting thing was that he was very keenly focused. He was acutely observant and very open, not filled with any kind of big attitude,” the director recalled throughout a telephonic dialog with the New York Times.

Irrfan, 53, died in a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday after a two-year struggle with neuroendocrine tumour. He was buried on the Versova graveyard.

Nair mentioned that the actor left the drama faculty on her request and lived in a Mumbai flat for two-three months with her, one other cinematographer and many avenue children. Initially set to play avenue gang chief Salim, the actor was later given a one-day scene of the scribe who rips off the road youngster and would not ship the letter house to his mom.

The filmmaker mentioned they realised that at his top of round 6 ft, he was “double the length of any malnourished street child”.

“The kids came up to his waist. It was not possible for him to be physically part of this group. It was a terribly hard thing to tell this wonderful actor that I couldn’t cast him, but he understood that,” Nair mentioned.

But regardless of this, the 2 remained friends. Sixteen years later, as she promised, Nair gave him a lead half in The Namesake, primarily based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel of the identical title.

“I had no idea when we brought him out here to play Ashoke Ganguli that it was Irrfan’s first time in America. And he looked at things with the eyes of not just an excited young man seeing this other world, but also with the eyes of the character who had to play it,” the filmmaker mentioned.

Nair mentioned she launched Irrfan to Lahiri’s mother and father and requested him to base his character on her father.

“And it was really beautiful because Irrfan is not Bengali, but he looks Bengali and he’s such an extraordinary actor that he can internalize all those things that make somebody as particular as they are,” she added.

The filmmaker then recalled one of the vital transferring scenes from the film the place Irrfan’s Ashoke Ganguli is having a dialog with his son, Gogol, explaining how he named him after Ukrainian creator Nikolai Gogol.

“And on the second take, he said to me, ‘Tujhe kuch aur chahiye, na?’ (‘You want something’) And I said: ‘Yeah, I want a tear to glass your eyes. I don’t want it to fall down’. “In reality, I’d say one thing humorous like, ‘If the bloody tear falls down your cheek, I gives you a slap.’ That’s how we used to speak, nothing valuable — a joke, as if we had been automobile mechanics and I used to be telling him to shift into third gear,” Nair mentioned.

The director mentioned the final time she met Irrfan was a 12 months in the past in London the place he was receiving remedy for neuroendocrine tumour and the actor was “remarkably philosophical”.

“We ate very well in the cafe. He flirted with the waitress. My friend came in on a bike and he got on the bike and he said: ‘I just need to. I need to do one block. Just one’. We had our last pictures together on this bike, and he was in full-blown treatment and yet he was in dapper linen,” Nair mentioned additional.

Meanwhile, actor Kal Penn, who performed Irrfan’s son within the film, additionally posted a tribute to the actor.

“Irrfan’s art and humanity will be badly missed. Never seen someone use the beats of silence so beautifully to convey so much about who we are. Sending love to Sutapa and the family,” the actor tweeted.

Watch the official trailer of Salaam Bombay!

Watch the trailer of The Namesake

ALSO READ | Re-watching Irrfan: From Salaam Bombay to Angrezi Medium

ALSO READ | Tuesday Trivia: Irrfan sobbed all night after his role in Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay was chopped

ALSO WATCH | Irrfan dies at 53: Bollywood says goodbye

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