I can’t believe it’s been a year since he left us. I recall him as God’s special child. He was that – very pure in terms of his craft, artistry and his conduct. That purity in his thoughts made him special as a person. He was like a free bird. He just always wanted to fly in the sky – ‘let’s fly’ is all that his spirit asked for, and he’d always say things that gave this away.
‘Our understanding grew to a point where we could communicate without a word being uttered’
Our equation started off with work, as an actor and filmmaker. It was after we wrapped up Piku that I could not think of anyone else but him to work with. I wanted him for all my films, somehow. Gradually, our relationship matured into quite a deep friendship where we could see or sense or communicate a lot of things that we wanted to do together. He would talk to me about going back to farming and then, about his many creative pursuits he wanted to complete. It was a pure equation, with no pretences. After he was diagnosed, we got closer to each other. Our understanding grew to the point where we could communicate without a word being uttered. He’d call me and tell me about people I should meet in London who are exactly like me. He thought about me, that matters to me.
‘I’ve started to believe in the magic of life that Irrfan believed in’
A lot of Irrfan’s personality has rubbed off on me. I sometimes feel guilty I could not work with him again but in the time that I got to know him, I realised that pretty much like him, I’ve also started to believe in the magic that life spins around us all the time. I believe in the magic of life that he believed in.
‘I remember he wanted to wear a particular chequered shirt in a scene in Piku, & when he did, he had childlike happiness in him’
More than conversations, there are memories I have of him. On one occasion while shooting for Piku, he wanted to wear a particular chequered shirt. He and the costume in-charge for the film, Veera, picked it. They were very happy with it. When she told me about the shirt, I told her to change it to something else. We went back and forth. Irrfan also jumped in to convince me, saying ‘Yeh pehenne do na dada…’. They planned and persuaded me into saying yes. When I see that frame today, he looks so happy, almost like a child getting the toy he wanted. In another scene where he’s leaving Kolkata and Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan is trying to stop him, Mr Bachchan was supposed to be eating a banana that he had to offer to Irrfan. By the time we started rolling, the banana was almost finished. Irrfan noticed it and started laughing. We had to get so many retakes because Irrfan could not stop laughing. When I see that behind-the-scenes moment, he looks so happy and peaceful.
‘Irrfan believed in a kind of spirituality that showed in his work and behaviour’
I think he had this mystic quality as an artiste which got you addicted to him as a person. He believed in a kind of spirituality which showed in his eyes and work and his behaviour. He had that mysticism jo kheenchke uske paas leke jaata tha.