There is a certain respect associated with a National Award in our psyche: Irrfan Khan

Ananya Bhattacharya

In the contemporary Hindi film industry, he has almost given birth to an urban legend – cast him and the film either becomes a critical success or a commercial success or both. For Irrfan Khan is an actor, who doesn’t really know how not to deliver a powerful performance. Be they comic roles, serious ones or poignant performances – Khan portrays everything and how! He has been felicitated with the Padma Shri in 2011 for his contribution to Indian cinema, and now, in 2013, he is the proud recipient of the National Film Award for Best Actor.

‘Paan Singh Tomar’, believes Irrfan, is a film that was extremely special for him.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” says an ecstatic Irrfan. “It’s great... the fact that ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ won the award for the Best Film at the National Awards makes me even happier.”

“The best part of winning the National Award is that people start identifying with you. They feel that they have won the award... That is what gives rise to a different emotion altogether,” says the prolific actor.

From a small role in Mira Nair’s ‘Salaam Bombay’ to a National Award for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, Irrfan’s journey has been fraught with many crests and troughs. But in 2013, with his spellbinding performances, Irrfan has made sure that his name appears in golden letters among the most bankable stars in the Hindi film industry today.

The actor was in the midst of an interview when the news was broken to him – that he had won the National Award for the Best Actor this year. “Ever since,” says Irrfan, “my phone hasn’t stopped ringing!”

The actor somewhere knew that he would win the honour this year. Admits Khan, “I was pretty sure I’d get it. The kind of a film ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ was and the sort of work that went into sculpting it somewhere ensured a National Award for it. This is one award receiving which makes us feel extremely proud. There is a certain respect associated with a National Award in our psyche.”

After a stunning performance in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s latest, ‘Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns’, where Irrfan plays the role of a Prince who is deviated in the quest of his love, the actor is now dividing time between several shoots, events and answering phone calls! He will soon be seen in YRF’s ‘Gunday’, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, which is currently on floors; in addition to that, there are several Hollywood projects that Irrfan is a part of and so on.

When it comes to films, Irrfan believes that usual awards are not exactly a yardstick to measure their brilliance. Also, the man has scant respect for the now-in-vogue 100 crore clubs. Irrfan expresses his concern on the matter, “It’s a liability on storytelling. It will not do very good for the coming story-tellers. If you start judging every film by the amount of money it makes, then every other aspect will be overshadowed. It’s a complicated business. It’s not just about money... it involves creativity as well. You have to balance what index you are using to judge a film. There are so many upcoming talents who will strive for this aspect. The level which you are bringing films to is unthinkable.”

There’s hardly been a film where Irrfan Khan has performed in and the film hasn’t been praised. This latest, enviable feather in his hat – that of the National Award – will definitely manage to fetch Irrfan the respect that he envisages winning the award would do. There are not many actors who can make their audiences feel the exhilaration and pain like Irrfan does with every character he plays on celluloid, there are not many actors who are bothered only about good cinema. Irrfan Khan belongs to that league: one different from many of his contemporaries altogether.