RIP Irrfan Khan: The Man Who Unlocked the Door To Bollywood and Kept Millions of Dreams Alive

Filmfare Magazine 2020A few days ago I was watching this years' Filmfare Awards. One thing which I noticed while the show was airing was the fact that there were no Kapoors, none of the trio Khans, no Dhawan. Not referring to performance, not even in the audience. So who was there then? Ayushmann Khurana, Kartik Aryan, Rajkumar Rao, Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Kriti Sanon and a few more names who almost had no legacy in the industry. There were a couple of headliner names  - Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh screaming out of your screen in all promos and in the 'Watch Next' preview at every ad break. To be candid, I was not missing the Khans.

The Man Who Unlocked The Door to Bollywood

Let's zoom out to see a bigger picture, gone are the days where 'only' legacy played a major part in making of the next star. Numerous Star Kids who gave a shot at the movies lost the plot even before the interval. So I started wondering, where did this change begin?
One name that struck my mind as someone who made his mark because of his sheer talent and no legacy was - Irrfan Khan. Not that Irrfan Khan started when the other Khans were already stars, but he took the road not taken. It took longer for him to make a mark maybe because he was not among the ones networking with directors and producers over late-night parties. But what did his sheer perseverance gave the industry was the opening the doors to people outside the industry.

People's Man, Not a Star

I recall one of his interviews where he candidly says that he is not in the industry to be a Star. He considered a Star to be someone who is superior from the masses. Someone who people might look up to but rarely connect. To an extent, it true. People look at stars as never ageing epitome of machoness oozing out. Something unachievable to for a common man. All he can do gaze at the person in never-ending awe. He was not Karan Johar's favourite. I cannot even imagine both of them having a consensus on a script. But he did connect with the common man which eventually led to him being recognised in the industry. Irrfan chose his roles matching with the common man be it his very early works of Salaam Bombay and Banegi Apni Baat OR as latest as the taxi driver in Piku or a worrying parent in Hindi Medium.

Keeping Dreams of Millions Alive

In the long process of him making his way to a relatively closed Bollywood industry, he made millions of aspirants believe that even they can be a part of this extravaganza. Consequently, he was followed by many other actors, completely alien to the industry, slowing and gradually making a cut - Nawazuddin Siddique, Pankaj Tripathi, Raj Kumar Rao and the list is endless. Undoubtedly, they have these names have their own struggle stories but they at least had hope, someone to look up to, someone who had been there done that.

RIP Legend

Irrfan Khan, through his characters and performance, connected with his audience so deeply that today all of his fans including me feel as if the loss is personal. His loss leaves a vacuum.

RIP Legend. You will be lived via every artist who makes his way in the industry on talent not legacy.

Image Credits: Irrfan Khan's Instagram Handle


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