Actors have a very personal impact on audiences. We connect with them as people, given that their lives are so public. But we also develop a relationship with the characters that they play. This understandably means that good actors, whose performances are special, leave a deepening impact. Irrfan is one of those people, and for the same reason, his work seems eternal. A recent event to retrospect at his journey, was a perfect reminder.
Vishal Bhardwaj and Naseeruddin Shah came together to talk about the actor’s unforgettable performances. They discussed Maqbool at length. In a way, it served as a means to not only revive his exceptional work, but validate our feelings about him. What Naseeruddin Shah and Vishal Bhardwaj said about him is a lot like getting to know him closely – the better part is, it’s what we imagined him to be. So what we thought of him as an actor, was precisely who he was.
Naseeruddin Shah said: “He always seemed to be performing so effortlessly, never did I feel, while watching him perform, that he was straining for an effect or trying to make an impact. My feelings about his movies are uneven. I haven’t liked them all, but there has never been any moment of falseness that I have detected in Irrfan’s work anytime.”
While talking about his understanding of stories, Vishal Bhardwaj said that Irrfan was someone who understood the pauses in the script. This, among his other qualities made the film look more special when it released for the audiences to watch. The director added that Irrfan had a great sense of humour and he never stopped with his jokes – not even when he was being treated for cancer.
He said: “Dosti, dosti mein saara kaam ho raha tha, aur lag raha tha ke kuch special ho raha hai. We were grappling with many things, jaise ke paise kam the. Film release hone ke baad jo reaction aaya tab realise hua ke bahut extraordinary kaam hua hai.”
When Bhardwaj said that Maqbool was beyond box-office success, he added, “Aadha lagta hai Irrfan ke bina.”
Irrfan was someone who defined his own kind of cinema when it came to Bollywood. We may not come across someone who can do what he could do – which is not a comment on other artists, but just another testament to his abilities.
So, we may reflect back at his work every few years, but so many of us remember him every day. That is what a good actor is capable of.