This time last year I had no idea the world would be Irrfan-less this year. We lost many beloved stars in 2020. Lekin Irrfan, ki baat hi kuch aur hai. Actors who had never met him felt it was just so unfair.
“Bahot hi behatreen actor tthe woh,” Nawazuddin tells me. During Irrfan’s lifetime, the gossip press tried to pitch Nawaz against Irrfan in a Shabana-Smita kind of arthouse rivalry. Somehow I never saw Irrfan as getting insecure about any actor. I remember once he was shooting for an Anees Bazmee film, and it was a totally new out-of-body experience for him. Irrfan had a ball shooting with Akshay Kumar. He had even shot a music video and was very excited about it.
Not many know this. But Irrfan loved to dance. “I think I’ve a good sense of rhythm. Dancing is very liberating. Sadly the kind of cinema I do hardly requires me to dance,” he lamented.
I remember how happy Irrfan was during his birthday in 2016. He had two hits to his credit and he was in the mood for celebration. "Last year was very satisfying for me. Piku and Talvar got me tremendous praise. So, I’d say this birthday I feel very fulfilled. I rarely feel like celebrating any occasion. But this time I am in that mood.”
This chameleon actor normally didn’t believe in birthdays. One reason for his apathy to his special day was the fact that the internet for a very long time gave out the wrong date for his birthday.
Irrfan shuddered, “I’d get calls on the wrong day. That was very annoying. That doesn’t mean I’m against birthday celebrations. In fact, I am going to have a party for the first time this year for my birthday. I am waiting for my friends from abroad to arrive. I was working on my birthday. To me, that’s the best way to celebrate. For years, I waited for the right roles. Now when they’re coming to me, I feel privileged, blessed, relieved and liberated.”
And just when Irrfan had begun to enjoy his success, God had other plans.
We also spoke about Irrfan’s health. And Irrfan told me he was health conscious. “I do look after myself. But not in an obsessive way. I workout, but in my own way. I follow the regime that my body demands and not what the physical trainer thinks my body requires. Besides that, I think I am getting to do the work that I want. Inner contentment always reflects on your face and body."
That inner contentment remained with Irrfan till the end. Looking back it seems ominous that the last film to hit movie theatres in 2020 was Irrfan’s Angrezi Medium. Thereafter the world went underground.
Happy Birthday, Irrfan. I hope you are dancing with the angels up there.
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