It has taken me a week to gather my thoughts on this and what to write. It all happened so quickly it was hard to fathom it. Suddenly he was there, then he wasn’t.
Irrfan was known to me from The Lunchbox (2013) and Piku (2015) the latter being one of my favourite movies ever. He was so natural, so real and raw in his films. He might not have looked like the average “hero” but he made any role he was offered or took into something more just by his raw talent.
Irrfan really was the one I saw most of. It was a joy to see him in Inferno (2016) and see how far he went. There will never be another like him, but he has left descendants in the likes of Rajkummar Rao and Jim Sarbh; the men who don’t look like the hero, but when the movie is over they will be the ones remembered.
He went too soon, I think I speak for everyone when I say that. There are so many movies and roles that will come in the future, that when we see them and see a character, we will know this role could have been easily played by Irrfan and he would have been magnificent in it. His magnificent eyes and speaking voice would have made him a stable in the older fatherly and grandfather roles, but we will never see those roles played by him, and that is the tragedy.
He was humble, he was normal and a good human being. He could do the Masala mass films like Gunday (2014) or he could do a Lunchbox — the magnificence was that he was comfortable in both. Hollywood or Hindi cinema, att house or for the masses, it didn’t matter. He could slip easily from one to another, become the character and then many more people knew about him.
He might have often played to the everyman, but he was, in essence, the actor that every man knew about, from America to India. You might not have known his name, seen his other works, but he left an impression which made it hard to forget him.
Rest in peace Irrfan