Cherishing Irrfan Khan: Babil looks like him; Ayaan reminds me of his integrity & honesty, says Sutapa Sikdar
As we go down memory lane to pay a heartfelt tribute to Irrfan Khan, an actor par excellence who left us last year, we speak to his wife Sutapa Sikdar. The emotional conversation reminded us to live with a ray of hope, positivity and faith.
The actor Irrfan Khan left his fans weeping on 29th April 2020. It has been a year, and the void seems will never be filled- we don't intend to do that either. For the film industry and his fans, he was not just an actor but a friend, philosopher and mentor. If given a choice between remembering or cherishing Irrfan Khan's memories, we would definitely opt for the latter.
Irrfan left an indelible mark on those around him. In the last year, we interacted with many people who are close to him. Some cherished his memories, a few others felt betrayed by life for stealing him from them, but one thing was constant - they all prefered to cherish his memories than remember him. Kyunki-“Yaad Unhe Kiya Jaata Hai, Jinhe Hum Bhool Jaate Hai…”
But this conversation with his wife Sutapa Sikdar not just made us emotional but reminded us to live with a ray of hope, positivity and faith that love is beyond the existence of a human body. No one can fill the vacuum left behind by a loved one. However, there is always something that we can pass on to the next generation that leaves an essence of us in them. What are few things about their children that reminds Sutapa of Irrfan, she says, "Babil looks very much like him. His looks are a strong reminder - and also his love for spiritualism. Irrfan was also a spiritual person. I get quite startled by a 22-year-old suddenly talking about extremely spiritual things."
Ayaan reminds me of Irrfan's integrity, honesty, and he's equally shy like Irrfan. He doesn't say a word, which is very similar to Irrfan.
"Ayaan reminds me of Irrfan's integrity, honesty, and he's equally shy like Irrfan. He doesn't say a word, which is very similar to Irrfan. It took a long time for Irrfan. The Irrfan you all know is probably very different from the one I knew - the one I met at NSD. He was this shy boy who was just standing there and would not talk to the whole group, the classmates. We would talk for three hours, and he wouldn't answer. He would just quietly sit and listen. So that's what Ayaan, my younger one, is like. There is this reflection of him which suddenly seems very similar," she adds with a tint of nostalgia escaping her voice.
"Babil taking a decision to go to the film industry is something I had imagined. But I thought he would want to be a cinematographer or a director. I never thought he would want to become an actor. But that's what he chose. I'm sure there will be lots of things which will look similar. The way he keenly looks at himself in the mirror is a powerful reminder of Irrfan. Right now, the work process has not really started, and I'm sure in his craft, I'll see many similarities," she emphasises.
Irrfan and Sutapa tied the knot on 23rd February 1995, but love found them much before they knew. They met as classmates at the National School Of Drama, unbeknownst to the beautiful sojourn destiny had planned for them. Sutapa confesses that it was definitely not love at first sight. Emotions slithered in when they bonded over their love for the art bond.
In today's world, where we search for love with just a right swipe, Sutapa and Irrfan's love story is like reading a novel sitting in your window on a rainy day. Taking a dive into memories, Sutapa says, "Ours is not exactly a conventional love story because we met as fellow mates, classmates, and it was not a love at first sight. He was very intimidated by me because I was born and brought up in Delhi, and I knew some of the third-year seniors and teachers. Also, I don't know how but I was second on the merit list when we got admissions. I was the National School of Drama scholar, and he was a Rajasthan scholar studying at Nation School of Drama."
She continues, "Ours was not a typical love story. He was skinny and culturally different from me. What struck me was the transparent honesty on the face, which is very rare for us city-bred people. We are mostly street-smart, know how to talk, how to impress... He wasn't like that at all. It was an insight. I felt something different, and we became friends. In the process, I found somebody who was about the inner-world and not about the outer-world of an individual. I respected, adored and loved the inner-world of Irrfan Khan."
"That's how our love story began. But I think it's more of a friendship, more of a partnership. It's not about red roses and gifts; it was beyond. It was conversations, debates, arguments, and of course, the talk of art. It was a different kind of thing that went through its share of ups and downs."
Ours was not a typical love story. He was skinny and culturally different from me. What struck me was the transparent honesty on the face, which is very rare for us city-bred people.
Perhaps, a proper phrase to describe their relationship is that they flowed and grew into love. But people change, don't they? A curious me prodded Sutapa to share what was one thing that never changed about Irrfan. Sutapa says, "His passion for his craft never changed. He was not the type to backbite, bitch, time pass - never. Not even as a 19-year-old or when I met him [he was then a 21-year-old student]. Till the last day, he was as curious about everything. He was not interested in the day-to-day nitty-gritty, backbiting and bitching."
When moving on isn't much of a struggle, his fans still miss him so much. It's like a part of Irrfan lives in them. This is rare. Did we become an unintentional but benign Horcrux? We wonder! An honest Sutapa replies, "I would say they don't make men like Irrfan khan. It is not about being an actor because if you are the man he was, I am sure you would become a good actor. I find it very rare. I'm very scared. I may not sound humble to say, but there indeed aren't many people like him; at least, I did not meet anyone like him. So hence, it's so strange, where I am broken by his absence but I'm also happy and fulfilled that I met him and we shared our life together."
At the beginning of this interaction, I wanted to conjure the courage to ask Sutapa how she managed last year without Irrfan. I am glad I couldn't because this interaction reminded me of the quote: "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal."
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Journalist. Perennially hungry for entertainment. Carefully listens to everything that start with "so, last night...". C... Read more