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Irrfan, a king of small gestures; Rishi could beat any actor hollow writes Shrmila Tagore


Sharmila Tagore pens a heartful eulogy to Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor. Sharmila wrote in her note that she was very fond of their acting and regrets that she couldn’t get a chance to say goodbye. She writes reminiscing in the life of both the actors, “There wasn’t even an opportunity to say goodbye. The passing of Rishi and Irrfan – how does one even commit that phrase into writing – leaves me devastated. At this moment, I cannot begin to contemplate the enormous void that these magnificent actors have left behind. Who can possibly fill the gap? Do we even want to fill the gap? Tagore shared some experience of working with Rishi Kapoor when on a set, he took her attention away from his son Saif Ali Khan. She added that when he arrived on the scene in ‘Hum Tum’, she found her attention wavering from her son, Saif Ali Khan, to Rishi.
She mentioned Irrfan as a ‘Man of few words with a magical presence.’
Sharmila wrote: “Interestingly enough, Rishi Kapoor’s second coming as an actor coincided with the arrival of Irrfan Khan on the scene as one of the country’s finest performers. I first watched an Irrfan film way back in 2001 at the opening of the London Film Festival. I didn’t even know his name at the time and yet at the premiere screening of Asif Kapadia’s The Warrior, what I took back from the visually stunning film were the actor’s eyes. I would meet him again in Venice. I was there with Abar Aranye, Goutam Ghosh’s sequel to Aranyer Din Ratri, and Irrfan was there with Vishal’s Maqbool, again a paean to those hauntingly eloquent eyes that would enchant generations of cine-goers. Given his natural reticence, it would be years before I realised how fluently he spoke Bengali when I called to congratulate him on his performance in The Namesake. Though he was a man of few words, there was something magical about his presence, both in real life and on-screen, that instantly captured your imagination.”
For Sharmila Tagore, Rishi’s Mulk is most memorable. “For me, Mulk is his most memorable film. A nuanced and balanced portrayal of a retired Muslim lawyer countering Islamophobia. His words “Aaj jo hum faisla kar rahein hain, woh hamaare kal ka faisla karega” will always remain relevant.”
“Rishi was not an insecure actor. He had the generosity in letting his co-actors inhabit a scene. Luck by Chance, Love Aaj Kal, Do Dooni Chaar, Kapoor and Sons, and many others are proof enough.” She further added.
Defining Irrfan she added: “Irrfan was a master of the understated. His deadpan amused demeanour and his casual throwaway delivery were in direct contrast to Rishi’s. And yet, he was as effective. He was king of the small gesture – a raised eyebrow, a smirk, a look in his intriguing eyes that you could never wholly interpret. All of this lent him a mystique that haunted the viewer long after the screens dimmed, leaving the audience wanting more.  I looked forward to his multi-dimensional performances. One was a rank outsider to the world of cinema who made it on his own steam with no family connections in the industry and the other belonging to the royalty of Hindi filmdom.”
She also wrote–
“Two of my beloved actors and stars, both on the cusp of greater glories, both gone ahead of time, both leaving behind not only their personal families but also their extended families of film lovers and fans. Two entirely unexpected deaths on two consecutive days in the middle of such unprecedented and worrying times.”
Further, she said, despite having different approaches to acting, both Rishi and Irrfan were equally gifted.
Later, she said that she is devastated as she did not get a chance to say goodbye to both stars, who left this world very soon.
This is what happens when a legendary actor pays tribute to other legendary actors and revive the memories. A total heart-wrenching reading!


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