(From left) Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Express Group, actor Irrfan, and Priyanka Sinha Jha, Editor, Screen
At the Express Adda held in Delhi last week, actor Irrfan spoke of the challenges before the Indian film industry, his international projects and inhibitions as an actor.
In the latest edition of Express Adda, which was held in Delhi last week, actor Irrfan recapitulated his journey in Indian cinema. Presented by Yes Bank in association with IIFL and Olive Beach, the evening had Irrfan in conversation with Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Express Group, and Priyanka Sinha Jha, Editor, Screen. The freewheeling discussion had the actor address a range of subjects Bollywood vs Indian cinema, the Rs 100-crore club and on experimenting with roles.
On the term ‘Bollywood’
It is not just the word “Bollywood”; it is about the whole abduction of culture. We are selling ourselves, and in the process, losing our value. I have a problem with that kind of mentality. Our cinema was not like that. It has a peculiar way of telling stories with song and dance and that’s unique. Why can’t we understand our own language of cinema? Why can’t we have our own identity? Why do we have to put “wood” after our name? I also have a strange relationship with the Rs 100-crore club. It is good that the film business is increasing rapidly at 30 per cent annually but media gives too much importance to it. It categorises and judges a film on the basis of collection. Filmmaking is not just commerce, it’s about telling stories.
On bringing his characters home
Sometimes there is no choice but to bring the character home. It is so intense that you can’t afford to leave him even for a day. For instance, when I was doing The Namesake, the character needed that kind of involvement that I had to live with him all the time, whether I liked it or not. I was in the US for three months. I became socially useless and could not talk to people because my character was so complicated. At other times, the character does not stay with you. It can be switched on and off. So it is the character that tells you that whether you have to live with it. Sometimes the character says it is a one-night stand, whenever you want to come and make love with me, come and make love with me and go. You are free. There were characters that I consciously kept with me. They’re more like life partners. There were also characters I wanted to shake off as soon as the shooting finished.