Irrfan, Indian cinema’s powerhouse performer, believes in doing things to drive change, rather than simply go with the flow — or merely “survive”, as he says. That is his calling as an actor, and a challenge always excites him, Irrfan told a select audience at Express Adda on Friday evening.
“I’ve come to this planet to challenge things. I don’t just survive. What Indian cinema has done for 100 years is to survive,” Irrfan said. In the course of an intelligent, informed conversation, the Paan Singh Tomar actor held forth on issues ranging from the R100-crore club to the difference between Bollywood and Indian cinema — and from taking risks in his profession to his admiration for Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The Express Adda is a series of conversations with prominent personalities from fields ranging from cinema and fashion to diplomacy and the corporate world. Friday’s session was moderated by Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Express Group, and Screen editor Priyanka Sinha Jha.
Irrfan, who said he disliked the term Bollywood, spoke about “Indian cinema” instead — “We are selling ourselves, our cinema was not like that. Let’s not add ‘wood’ and make it Bollywood.”
To a question on how deeply a character affects him, the actor who is known to literally become the characters he plays in film after he film, had a witty response: “Sometimes a character is a one-night stand to whom I can come back any time to make love, and at other times, it just comes back home with me.”
One such role, Irrfan said, was Paan Singh Tomar, a character whose dignity and simplicity he associates with his own father. “It’s a character that I will carry with me all my life,” he said.
Reminded of his dream initially of becoming a cricketer, Irrfan said, “In a way both these professions (acting and cricket) are the same because in both, people play for importance and money. But I prefer cinema. It gives me a chance to explore my surroundings and express myself. There is something very precious about being an actor. I share my experience with the audience and they connect with what I am doing.”
Irrfan, who effortlessly straddles the line between being an actor and a star, spoke about the earlier era of films which, he said, were ahead of their time in having, despite the routine dance and drama, a story.
The audience at Adda learnt about his fascination for Suchitra