Two years after the actor’s death and two decades after they first worked together, Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia says he’s still coming to terms with the fact that Irrfan Khan is gone. Working with Irrfan on the 2001 film The Warrior, his first international project, was the start of an amazing journey, Kapadia said. The third person on the ride was Monsoon Shootout director Amit Kumar.
“That relationship with Irrfan and Amit is like this very strong triangle that has shaped us, that we went on this amazing journey together. We’ve all remained friends,” Kapadia said in a Zoom interview from London.
“Last time I was in Bombay, Amit and I went to Irrfan. We didn’t agree to it. It’s also strange because I haven’t been able to travel since this last year,” said Kapadia, best known for his documentaries Senna, Amy and Diego Maradona.
The director, whose 2015 documentary Amy about singer Amy Winehouse won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, said he and Kumar miss Irrfan every day.
Irrfan, one of the first Indian actors to make big strides in international cinema with films such as The Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi, died in April last year after a two-year battle with a rare neuroendocrine tumor. form of cancer. He was 54. In The Warrior, the film that brought Irrfan to the attention of the international film community, the actor played a warrior going through a spiritual transformation.
Kapadia said that Irrfan was and remains special to him.
“We miss him, and he was great and he was special and we mustn’t forget Irrfan, not just for the work he did, but he was a good guy, he never changed. He was always like this wonderful, spiritual human being ‘ said the 49-year-old director.
Kumar, whose one of the OTT projects was executed by Kapadia, remembered Irrfan as a person with a “certain kind of aura”.
“To me he was such a warm person. It’s interesting that Asif used the word spiritual to describe Irrfan, because there was a certain kind of aura around him. There was more than just his physical being, you could feel something was very special about him,” the Mumbai-based director said in the same interview.
He added that he and Kapadia traveled around the country for two or three months while preparing and researching for The Warrior. This is how he came up with the idea for his acclaimed short film Bypass from 2003, which starred Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
The actors later teamed up in The Lunchbox.
Kumar described the coming together of Irrfan, Siddiqui and Kapadia for Bypass as a “magical reshuffle of fate,” saying that working with the actor on the film is a memory close to his heart.
“I had worked with Asif on The Warrior and I could see everything Irrfan was doing in it. I thought, ‘I should really try to work with him,’ and then Bypass happened,” Kumar said.