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Famous Hollywood directors wanted to work with Irrfan. Here’s why he refused their offers

Unlike other Bollywood actors who do inconsequential roles in Hollywood films, Irrfan Khan refused offers made by some of the biggest Hollywood directors.

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Irrfan Khan wasn’t the kind who you would have expected be a successful Bollywood-Hollywood crossover actor. He wasn’t conventionally suave, urbane or the typical good-looking type we picture when we think of cinema’s greatest global icons.

And he wasn’t an aggressive self-promoter nor did he have a powerful lobby group backing him. Yet more than the likelier mainstream candidates —Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Anil Kapoor (who had a bigger role than him in Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire) — it is Irrfan Khan who made a real impact in global cinema, in movies as varied as A Mighty Heart, The Namesake, Jurassic World, Life of Pi and The Amazing Spiderman.

And he did it without having any pageant titles or playing Holi with Jimmy Fallon on his show. Unlike others, Irrfan didn’t change his accent. He made an impact without trying to be more acceptable in the conventional sense and without appearing on The David Letterman Show to talk about Indian family values, like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan did.

He wasn’t walking the red carpet or appearing on US Weekly covers. He waltzed right into the movies first.

And Hollywood loved him for it.

Also Read: Irrfan Khan landed the role of Maqbool after Naseeruddin Shah vetoed Kamal Haasan

Confident and secure

He didn’t jump at every offer just because it came from Hollywood – not even Interstellar.

Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott — these are just three of the biggest directors in the world, who wanted to cast Irrfan Khan in their movies, but he turned them down.

While he felt the Spielberg film didn’t offer him an interesting enough role, he did feel bad about not working with Scarlett Johansson. And while Nolan’s Interstellar clashed with his commitments to The Lunchbox and D-Day, he also turned down two films of Ridley Scott The Martian and Body of Lies.

The confidence and security, which Irrfan had in his talent, is something that many others could learn from.

When I see Priyanka Chopra Jonas in inconsequential roles in crappy films like Baywatch and Isn’t It Romantic, when I see Aishwarya’s old attempts at crossover movies like Bride and Prejudice and The Mistress of Spices, it makes me wonder if they truly understand what it means to cross over. It doesn’t mean going to Hollywood on the terms proposed by the filmmakers, doing what they want you to do and speaking in a horrendous accent that they might understand.

It means being your own person, sticking to your terms and knowing your worth, while still working with the biggest names and in the biggest movies.

It means knowing that if Danny Boyle offers you a character role and Vishal Bhardwaj offers you a lead, you’ll take the lead, as he said in a 2010 episode of Walk The Talk with Shekhar Gupta. In the same interview, Irrfan also said that going to the Oscars or getting a National Award weren’t his idea of achievement – funnily, he and his films ended up doing both.

And that is why, today, it’s not just India, but the world that is grieving the loss of one of its finest actors.

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  1. It’s just bad journalism to play down other artist’s achievements or works to give more credibility to another artist’s work. Having said that Irrfan Khan is indeed a unique talent and we’re lucky to have watched his movies while he was still alive. And it’s not a surprise for a talent like him to turn down big Hollywood Directors because his every work is his art, and true arts trancends culture and norms.

  2. There barely any interesting insight about the Irfan as an actor or a human being. The author wasted his/her energies on how and what others did to promote themselves which is honestly nothing more then being judgmental about others. You really wasted prime space in prime journal author.

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