Irrfan Khan left us a day before Rishi Kapoor and I had barely woken up when Times Now called to break the news and before I could blink, I was on air expressing my condolences. I am not sure what I spoke but when I disconnected, I was inundated with calls saying that the news of Irrfan Khan’s death was not true! I wanted to believe the callers, I wanted to believe in a miracle but the fact was that Irrfan Khan was gone.
Irrfan was not a friend the way Rishi Kapoor was but there was a bounce in our interaction every time we met, his eyes sparkled every time he bumped into me at a screening or a party and holding my hand firmly he would say, ‘Jab bhi aap se milta hoon bohat accha lagta hai’. I met him for the first time during the monsoon of the 90s, I think. I was walking out of a coffee shop near my home and spotted him outside with a bunch of friends, smoking.
Those days he was doing a crime series with Kay Kay Menon on television and I was hooked on to that series because the performances were extra-ordinary so I smiled at him spontaneously and introduced myself, he threw off his cigarette and said, ‘Arre aap…Aap se se toh main kab se milna chahta th aur aaj milgaye…’
He insisted we have a cup of coffee together and I agreed because I had innumerable questions about his characters. Irrfan traveled me through his television journey, said there was a time when he was shooting round the clock because that is how the television industry operates. Then one day, when he was driving home late night after pack up, he was so exhausted that he fell asleep on the steering wheel middle of the road. “I’m not sure how long I had passed out but when I opened my eyes it was sunlight and it took me a while to figure out what had happened. My wife tells me that I was so drained and disoriented that I did not emerge from the bedroom for days. That’s the time I decided that irrespective of what happens in future, whether I get movie offers or not, I will not go back to television.’
To Be Continued…