RIP Irrfan Khan: He couldn’t make a lemonade when life gave him a lemon

...And yes! wait for me”, said Irrfan while sending out his voice to his fans and film goers on launching a promotion video for his last film Angrezi Medium recently released and well received

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media

Rana Siddiqui Zaman

...And yes! wait for me",  so said Irrfan Khan while sending out his voice to his fans and film goers on launching a promotion video for his last film Angrezi Medium recently released and so well received. He has said in this video, "It is said that when life gives you a lemon, make a lemonade out of it. But whether you can make a lemonade or not of that lemon, depends. You have to remain positive as you don't have an option."  He was battling endocrine cancer and refused to show his face.

And we all waited. A few hours before his death a long message by his family was published asking all to not pay attention to rumours and he was brave enough to fight the battle and come back.
But he didn't come back!

Just two days after his mother passed away he also lost his life. He watched her janaza going and offered last prayer online. How painful was it for him in such times of Covid19, when even for burial, the closest people were not around his mother. It must have given a huge heartache to already ill Irrfan.

My meeting with Irrfan Khan goes back to his film Hasil days, made by Tigmanshu Dhulia, in the year 2003. Tigmanshu, Irrfan and team had come to Delhi's India habitat center to shoot a scene.

Khan was then not with double r (irrfan) in his name but a single one.. The scene was small. He had to utter a long dialogue to an audience - the students. Irrfan stumbled twice or thrice. Koi baat nahi phir karte hain, Tigmanshu was patient.

As I went to speak to Irrfan after the scene, I could make out. He was drunk and a bit conscious to talk. So we decided to do it the next day. He was fresh, ready and smiling.

And we met again for Rog, Pan Singh Tomar, Mira Nair's Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire, Piku and so on.

Khan was a cautious interviewee. He wouldn't talk personal. But that day he did.

I remember having a long long chat with him when he told me how he belonged to a nawab family of Jaipur and didn't quite  like attitude of his own elite class treating poor as nobodies.

"My mother gave me a long name bade pyar se..Shahzada Irfan Ali Khan. When I started struggling to work in films, I removed Shahzada and Ali on my own and kept it short. I didn't want that weight on my name of one from a royal family.  "Ammi khafa huin thin badi. Par humne mana liya', he smiled coyly while his eyes groped some memories in the air.

Irrfan was always a bit conscious about certain things about himself -- He was shy, not very social, a keen observant and a suspicious of sorts. I recall how soon after Slumdog Millionaire bagged an Oscar in which he played a small role of an inspector, Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan were waiting for their respective cars on the porch. He felt a wee bit awkward in crowd when journos gathered around Kapoor and he was almost left to himself. He was in white suit and black shirt. He slipped his sunglasses on his eyes and said to me jokingly, "Film main to hum bhi they. Ab jitna bada role, utni badi bheed (journos)'.

A close pal Kabeer remembers him as a seeker who knew the film craft, was a wonderful writer who wrote several short films, and among very few actors who were also philosophers and had keen interest in sociology-political history and current scenario of the country,: He spoke less as he was intelligent, was able to observe the depth of a person just by a quick glance. Only a few know that he silently did a lot of charity too.

A product of NSD Irfan didn't continue with theater as he knew he wont be able to survive with this medium.

For him theatre was a way to reach a space from where he as an actor would be viisible.

He developed a rare endocrine cancer, recovered, came back and then again admitted for colon issue to ICU jut last week. Despite immense fitness regime that he followed, life didn't give much of  a chance. Meanwhile his mother passed away just three days ago. He saw her last rites on video arranged by a family member and offered namaz- e-janaza from that distance. Its easy to fathom that, it broke already ailing Irrfan. He couldn't handle it and gave away.

It reminds me of the song from film Rog he played an excellent role of an inspector in

Maine dil se kaha, dhoond lana khushi

Nasamajh laya ghum, to ye ghum hi sahi

(I asked the heart to search for some joy. it couldn't understand and brought sorrow)

Rest in peace Irrfan.

You went a bit too early at just 53.

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