Irrfan Khan spent ten long years doing his acting apprenticeship in TV soaps and serials before his breathtaking performance in The Warrior which catapulted him to international stardom. Since then, he’s never looked back. A string of intelligent movies have followed including Haasil and the extraordinary Maqbool, both of which won him National awards, Chocolate, The Killer, A Mighty Heart, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and of course Life…In A Metro, The Darjeeling Limited and Mira Nair’s The Namesake. He has Dil Kabaddi and Billo Barber also lined up for later this year. Quite a CV!
He’s particularly proud of all the beautiful women he’s starred with and will cheerfully list them for you. “I shot with Tabu and Natalie Portman in Mira Nair’s film,” he says, “And now I’m shooting with Soha Ali Khan in Dil Kabaddi and with Lara Dutta in Billo Barber Incidentally, Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif are also there in Billo Barber,” he explains. Life must be hard for a Bollywood actor. Hah!
Irrfan has become interested by the sexual politics of his role in Dil Kabaddi. He plays a man who is a philanderer but as always with Irrfan, he is interested in the motivations behind the character. “Dil Kabaddi is about dishonesty in man-woman relationships,” he explains, “I call it dishonesty – at least by the standards set by civil society. Sometimes you are not satisfied in one relationship and so you keep looking for sexual and emotional satisfaction elsewhere. I like playing this promiscuous character.”
He’s also currently preparing for another role as marathon runner Pan Singh Tomar in a biopic of the same name. True to form, Irrfan has been running for months in order to look authentic in the role. “I pride myself in being quite fit,” he says, “But playing a gold-medal marathon runner isn’t the same thing. I’ve to get into even better shape. I have to look convincing as a long-distance runner.”