What is that one thing that you miss the most about Irrfan?
I miss his acting the most. The reason I felt so bad when he passed away is because I felt connected to him as an actor. I feel his film journey, where he got to do films like ‘Namesake’ and ‘Maqbool’ only after doing several odd roles on television, is similar to mine. I followed his work diligently and draw parallels between our careers often. I felt he was all set to break into the big league when he was gone and it made me really sad. More than anything I’ll miss what he’d have done had he not been taken away. Irrfan Khan was more than an actor; he was a seeker.
Who were your movie idols growing up?
I have been a big film buff since childhood as was my family. My maternal uncle used to take me to the movies and I recall watching ‘Mr India’, ‘Hero’ at the cinema hall, and being transfixed at the sight of a woman transforming into a snake in ‘Nagina’. During Durga Puja, my mother used to take us to watch Bengali films in a big field, which was like an open-air theatre.
I remember fawning over Mithun Chakraborty. He was a huge star for every Bengali at the time. I had found his address in a magazine and would religiously write to him. Who knew I’d become an actor myself and get to hear him praise me. He thinks I am a fantastic actor and that is everything for me. His son Namashi and I are good friends.
One film that inspired you during your growing up years?
‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Haan’ was a very special film. If I could name another one, it would be ‘Rangeela’, which I went completely crazy after watching! It is my favourite Hindi film of all time for its music, a very pretty Urmila, and of course, Aamir Khan. The last scene where Aamir and Urmila are sitting and she tells him how everything she is today is because of Kamal ji, and the way Munna looks at Mili, and that music–it’s just amazing! Even in ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na’, Sunil doesn’t get Ana. At the time, I was in love with a girl in school, who didn’t love me back. I was heartbroken and these two films made me feel like Sunil and Munna in real life.
Name one of your films that is close to your heart…
‘Prague’ is very close to my heart. It was released in 2013 and still plays on OTT. Nobody saw it though and I was heartbroken. It is one of my best films but and we shot it with a lot of passion in Prague. But we had no distribution and not many people got to watch it. However, that film will go down as my best work even when I am gone.