"Irrfan Khan's versatility and devotion will remain an institution of learning" - Pavan Kaushik

"Irrfan Khan's versatility and devotion will remain an institution of learning" - Pavan Kaushik

For Irrfan Bhai, it was a passion to reach the top the film industry with dedication and hard work - which he did, not just in India but globally
"Irrfan Khan's versatility and devotion will remain an institution of learning" - Pavan Kaushik
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By: Pavan Kaushik

My memories of Irrfan Khan date back to decades ago, when I was acting along side him in one of his earlier Doordarshan TV serials, NIRMALA, which was based on Munshi Premchand's work.  This was in the eighties, when dubbing was a luxury and air conditioners or OB vans were not yet in n practice.

I had played the role of Jiya in the serial, while Irrfan bhai played the doctor and Preeti Khare, an established TV actor had donned the role of Nirmala.  This was one of Irrfan bhai's first TV serials, and the extra 'r' in his name was not there then.  His presence on the sets was something that I used to observe regularly and he was always reserved and kept to himself.  He was more into reading an re-reading the script and his dialogues.  Irrfan bhai had confined himself to one of the many rooms of a rural house that we had hired for the shooting. Here he could be seen practising his dialogues.

The shooting was done in the outdoors in summers due to the sunlight and coolers had to be switched off as dialogues were delivered simultaneously with the shot. Dubbing was a luxury at that time.

This was the serial for which Sutapa Sikdar, Irrfan Khan's wife, was the production controller.  They were not married then, and I never saw them interacting much on the sets. Sutapa controlled the sets and it took 4 to 5 days to shoot an episode back then.  They were both thorough professionals and stuck to their tasks.  Irrfan bhai, though, at times, would throw in a joke and then keep quiet, leaving the rest of the crew to be absorbed in fits of laughter.

During this interaction with Irrfan bhai, seeing his intensity and hard work, I felt I had to learn the basics of acting.  Though I had done a few TV serials before and was a known face, it was me who received the scolding from the director, on not being able to give perfect shots like Irrfan bhai.

Me, alongwith all the actors that have worked with Irrfan Khan, admire him for the ease he radiates when in front of the camera. I have no hesitation in saying the Irrfan bhai's perfection saved a lot of time that actors like me consumed in retakes.

My last conversation with Irrfan bhai was around four to five years ago, and in 10 - 15 minutes when we talked about 'Nirmala', the conversation turned to him talking about how I was and what i was doing. Unbelievable that an actor on the echelons of his career could remember the details of his struggling years so vividly.

I wanted to be an actor like him. But certain qualities are god''s gift, and come with hard work. I was deprived of both. Neither could I be as intense as him, nor could I do that hard work in acting.

For me, acting was temporary and, ultimately, I had to enter a job. For Irrfan Bhai it was a passion to reach the top in the film industry, not just in India but globally -- which he pursued and achieved. Sutapa was always his inspiration and strength, that was visible at the time of "Nirmala" also, and she remained his strength forever.

Irrfan Bhai will be missed by the film industry. His versatility and devotion will remain as an institution of learning.

The Author of this piece, Pavan Kaushik, has played the role of "Jiya" in the Doordarshan serial "Nirmala" alongside Irrfan Khan.

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