When Irrfan Khan said actors are not heroes: ‘Real heroes work selflessly just to change people’s lives’

screenmixApril 27, 2021

When you watch Irrfan Khan on screen, you admire how he finds that extraordinary quality in everyday, ordinary man roles. And when you listen to him talking about it, you realise it was not a happy accident, the actor had a deep-seated philosophy that went into him creating characters which were special in their own way despite being a face in the crowd.

It will be a year soon since the actor passed away, leaving legions of his fans heartbroken. Irrfan’s filmography is the proof of his expertise in his craft, but listen to him and you realise the thought that went into making him the man and the actor he was.

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Speaking to Indian Express, the actor had spoken about why it was important for him to create an on-screen image that was not larger-than-life. “When I started out in movies, I observed that there was a kind of disparity which comes when you watch a film, and you start feeling that the on-screen creatures are special and you (the viewer) are a substandard creature,” Irrfan said adding that for him the most important thing was to “communicate that whatever I am doing, I am not special, it is possible for you (the viewer). Only then it is worthwhile to be an actor.”

He said he found it “ugly” that audience felt inferior to the image on the silver screen. In fact, he said he would “rather leave acting” than glamorise the on-screen persona. “There is something ugly in creating that disparity which reinforces the notion that I (the actor) am something special. That is not my taste. I would rather leave acting,” the late actor said during an interview which was done when he was promoting his film, Qarib Qarib Singlle.

Irrfan also spoke about why actors should not be looked up to as heroes or be ‘aspirational’ in any which way. “I could see people are finding them (actors) heroes. They are not heroes,” said Irrfan.

“Television changed things for our society. People started looking at the cinema in different ways; as though becoming a star was a career by itself. But slowly, I could see that people are finding them (actors) heroes. They are not heroes. They are glamorous people. Sportsmen, for instance, are playing sports and they should be valued and given importance, but society should not aspire to become just that. That’s a shortcut. There are real heroes who affect people’s lives. They work selflessly just to change people’s life. Those are heroes. For a healthy society, at least, aspirations should be directed in the right direction,” Irrfan said.

In the same interview, the actor also spoke about how staying connected to anything materialistic was “very limiting” for him.

“Life is so transitory that to freeze something and depend on that, I find it very limiting. I would rather connect to life’s transitory nature and be okay with it. I have realised that the most beautiful thing that could happen is to live with uncertainty,” Irrfan said adding, “I hate to take myself seriously because you are here (now) but you won’t be there in 30-40 years or maybe 5 years. So, what will remain? So, I am easier on myself after being connected with uncertainty. If there is God, let him come. I will seek him. I am not in a hurry.”

Irrfan Khan passed away on April 29, 2020.