July 22 2016
Star actor’s latest film is a tough emotional drama with a political message he believes Indian audiences are ready to hear ….
IRRFAN KHAN is an actor who is almost continually evolving and challenging the boundaries of Indian cinema.
His latest film, “Madaari” which opens today (July 22) worldwide, is described mostly as a ‘social thriller’. He stars in it and has produced it.
“It’s a father-son story, a thriller and emotional,” Khan told www.asianculturevulture.com from a slightly crackly phone line to Mumbai.
“It’s about the system we live in, it will make you ask hard questions. It will be emotional and make you want to hug your kid. It’s about the importance of your early years and so many things,” Khan responded.
The story, he said is based on a real incident, and involves him as ‘Nirmal Kumar’, an ordinary, unremarkable man kidnapping the Indian home minister’s son.
He does this motivated by the death of his own son in a particular incident of which many questions still remained unanswered.
“I’ve tried to show what it is to fight the system – a system that is not serving us and it’s emotional,” Khan continued. “We never get answers.”
He argued that there was an appetite for films which tackled realism and real issues.
“We have had some political films, ‘Haider’ (2014) and ‘Madras Café‘ (2013).
“Indian films should start discussing the realities around them, and no one is expecting that.
“Audiences are desperate to see stories which belong to them.
“There are audiences that want to see entertaining films which have nothing to do with life, and then there are other audiences who want to see real life reflected in cinema.
“These audiences are growing day by day, if we don’t engage them they will only go to one kind of cinema,” he argued.
The film has been causing ripples in India, with Khan himself taking to twitter to requesting meetings with three prominent political figures, including India’s prime minister Narendra Modi.
While he got a polite response from the man charged with looking after the welfare of 1.2 billion Indian people, he enjoyed more success with Arvind Kerjiwal, chief minister of Delhi, the capital and the maverick Aam Aadmi Party leader.
The common man’s party was created to fight corruption, hold political leaders to account and bring the Indian citizen closer to the people who purport to represent them.
While that might be a benign interpretation of their general political philosophy, the party and Kerjiwal himself has clashed numerously with Prime Minister Modi and the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Khan added: “It’s (the meetings with politicians) is an extension of my film, where as I as a common man can go to a politician and ask questions about the system and get people to be more engaged.”
In the trailer, there is a moment where Khan’s character laments the way the system works – you vote at every election but after that there is very little, if any, engagement and dialogue.
“The possibilities are over once he (everyman) votes, once he chooses a party at an election, (that’s it).
“You have to participate to make the system serve you – you have to constantly participate and understand your rights and duties,” Khan explained.
He proudly accepted that “Madaari” is somewhat of a departure from the usual Bollywood fare.
“We don’t have any culture of making political films. There is no reference point to this film, it’s a combination of a thriller and very emotional drama – something of which I have not seen much of…it’s a very raw kind of approach to the story,” he revealed.
Just this week, the film was screened to industry professionals and some were very publically complimentary (taking to social media to express their feelings) and recognised the film was asking difficult (political) questions and represented another side of Bollywood filmmaking.
“Madaari” is directed Nishikant Kamat, whose previous film “Mumbai Meri Jaan” (2008) was feted with awards and is loosely based around the real Mumbai July 11 train bombings in 2006, when 209 commuters were murdered and more than 700 injured.
As for Khan, post “Madaari”, he plans to go in a different direction altogether.
“There’s a comedy, a romantic comedy and a sex comedy,” he answered, repeating the last two words so www.asianculturevulture.com is absolutely sure. “I want to do something lighter, different.”
Irrfan Khan has a long and quite different career to many mainstream actors in India; a television actor and producer originally, it was his role in the film, “The Warrior” (2001) with British director Asif Kapadia, that saw him make a significant international breakthrough and he has gone on to appear in films such as “Slumdog Millionaire“, “Life of Pi” and “Jurrasic World“, among others, as well as more quirky Bollywood films, such as “Piku” and “Jazbaa”
- ‘Madaari’ is out today worldwide