Bollywood Hero, American Everyman

“HOLLYWOOD isn’t ready for an Indian leading man,” Irrfan Khan declared one evening last month, dragging pensively on a hand-rolled cigarette in an overheated hotel room in Chelsea.

Aseem Misra

In India, Irrfan Khan, often portrays heroes and rebels, as in his latest Bollywood film, “Paan Singh Tomar.”
He was nursing a sore throat and fatigue after a marathon post-production session for Ang Lee’s film “Life of Pi.” And, if his eyes could be trusted, a pang of loneliness. Mr. Khan had welcomed in the new year on a flight from Mumbai; a few days later he would celebrate his birthday en route to Los Angeles. His acclaimed performance in the HBO series “In Treatment” last season was being followed by supporting roles in two major American movies, “Pi” and Marc Webb’s big-budget rebooting of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” both of which were demanding frequent jaunts from his home in India to studios in Taiwan, Canada and the United States.

“It will take time before Hollywood is free to write a story about an Indian guy, unless it’s about the dark side of India, like ‘Slumdog,’ ” Mr. Khan said, referring to Danny Boyle’s 2008 Oscar-sweeping movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” in which he played a detective who interrogates a young pauper he suspects of cheating on a game show.

“They don’t want to see a normal India,” he added, his voice barely above a whisper. “That’s not the shock value they have to have.”

The Great Khan, as his legions of fans call him, says he no longer seeks fame or fortune. (He already has both.) His current wish list might seem quixotic coming from a man less accomplished: A choice of roles, maybe even as an action hero. A career that transcends race, religion and country. A life with fewer of the material trappings he has come to expect and more room for self-examination.

“Actually,” he replied, when asked what he is searching for, “I am after God.”

In “Paan Singh Tomar,” his latest Hindi-language film, opening on Friday in the United States and in India, Mr. Khan portrays yet another of the epic rebels who have established him as a huge star in South Asia. Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, a friend from his student days at the National School of Drama, the movie is based on the life of Paan Singh Tomar, a long-forgotten midcentury champion steeplechase runner who is stung by the government’s betrayal of his impoverished village and becomes a dacoit, or bandit.

“For his self-respect he picks up a gun,” Mr. Khan said of the role, for which he trained for three grueling months, learning to soar over obstacles. “The irony is that this is a person who is running for the country, and later it’s the country who is running after him.”

The eldest son in an aristocratic Muslim family from Jaipur, a city of pink palaces in the arid north, Mr. Khan was a middling student whose conservative parents frowned on his passion for cinema, insisting he pursue a professional degree.

He did for a time but eventually followed his heart to drama school, hoping “to make a difference in my life,” he said. “I was trying to connect to something that could make me feel more complete.”

Cast just after graduation in 1987 in Mira Nair’s “Salaam Bombay!,” he wept when his part was cut. Several television series later, on the verge of quitting, Mr. Khan was chosen as the lead in “The Warrior,” Asif Kapadia’s sweeping 2001 adventure about the enforcer of a feudal lord who is hunted through the desert of Rajasthan and the snowy Himalayas after repudiating his post. Two years later “Maqbool,” Vishal Bhardwaj’s gangland updating of “Macbeth,” transformed Mr. Khan into a heartthrob in the moment he traced the actress Tabu’s parted lips through a gauzy veil.

Did he long to be famous? “Yes,” he answered without hesitation. “It’s a complicated thing.” He considered for a moment. “Maybe to become famous is to reassure yourself that whatever you’re lacking inside, you’ve fulfilled that.

“Now I look to fame as a cage,” said Mr. Khan, who lives on Aksa Beach in Mumbai with his wife, the writer Sutapa Sikdar, and their two sons. “A crutch you hold on to.”

While he usually cuts a dashing figure in Indian films, Hollywood directors, impressed by his gift for nuance, have mostly cast Mr. Khan in Everyman roles. He first became familiar to audiences in the United States for “The Namesake,” Ms. Nair’s 2007 adaptation of the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri about a Bengali couple (Mr. Khan and Tabu) that moves from Kolkata to New York City.

It was Dan Futterman, an executive producer of “In Treatment,” who brought Mr. Khan to American television in the critically acclaimed role of Sunil, a grieving Bengali widower displaced in Brooklyn with his son and American daughter-in-law, for which the actor, now 45, was cosmetically aged more than a decade.

Both men had appeared in Michael Winterbottom’s 2007 film, “A Mighty Heart,” with Mr. Khan playing the head of a Pakistani anti-terrorism unit and Mr. Futterman the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was abducted and killed by terrorists.

“He has that ineffable thing that certain great actors have of doing very little but drawing the audience in,” Mr. Futterman said. “They make choices that both surprise you and are entirely relatable.”

Gabriel Byrne, the star of “In Treatment,” who plays Sunil’s therapist, Dr. Paul Weston, watched Mr. Khan nail 30-minute scenes in just a couple of takes.

“Irrfan is a brilliantly unpredictable actor, one of the best I’ve ever worked with,” Mr. Byrne wrote in an e-mail. “He makes major character revelations with the smallest of gestures.”
Enlarge This Image

Paul Schiraldi/HBO
Irrfan Khan as a patient in HBO’s “In Treatment.”
Even the act of rolling a cigarette, a tic Mr. Khan created for Sunil that became a vice in real life, captivated viewers.

“He makes such a meal out of that,” said the director Marc Webb, who cast him in “The Amazing Spider-Man” as Dr. Ratha, a high-level executive at Oscorp with what he called “villainistic overtones.” The film, which stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, is scheduled to come out in July.

“The first time I saw him was ‘The Namesake,’ and I remember being utterly transfixed,” Mr. Webb said. “There’s a scene when he sings to his wife after she has locked herself in the bathroom. I hadn’t seen anything like it.”

Mr. Lee, the director, said it was “an obvious no-brainer” to turn to Mr. Khan for “Life of Pi,” based on Yann Martel’s fantasy novel about a shipwrecked Indian boy adrift on a lifeboat in the Pacific with a Bengal tiger. “I found that the book had a very mature voice, not like a teenager’s,” Mr. Lee said of his decision to have Mr. Khan play the adult Pi, who narrates the film, to be released in December. “So I figured I needed a pretty brilliant actor. I was like, ‘Who else?’ ”

“It’s not the kind of acting you can plan for,” he added, discussing Mr. Khan’s technique. “I gave my direction and thought, ‘O.K., there he goes.’ It’s like there’s something floating in the air, and sometimes he catches it and sometimes not.”

Could Mr. Khan become the first Indian to capture the lead in a mainstream American movie?

“Probably not as a romantic lead, because he’s not white,” Mr. Lee said. “I think Asia is still a minority, still too small a group to be commercially valuable. But maybe he can break through for us. He’s definitely rare and very special.”

(Mr. Webb disagreed. “Women find him intensely delectable, if that’s the criteria,” he said, citing swoons on the “Spider-Man” set.)

“People want to see great actors, they want to see an interesting face, and he’s both,” Mr. Lee added. “But usually it’s the actor bending toward the audience. With Irrfan, the audience might have to bend toward him a little bit.”

Article Link

Post Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

amoxicillin europe avastin xeloda colon cancer captopril 25mg information nasonex nasal spray over the counter viagra online without prescription vasotec iv push administration viagra einzeln kaufen actos plus metformin 15 850 buy cialis online cheap prices buy domperidone on line rocaltrol 0.25 mcg anxiety attacks symptoms synthroid side effects medications hyzaar 100 25 on line buy viagra online australia phenergan dm 6.25 naproxen 500 mg en espanol ospamox 1000mg pret advair generic 2012 generic viagra no prescription in uk promethazine hcl tabs super calcium carbonate ca 8000 viagra 500mg price ketorolac tromethamine 10mg tab buy slimex online hydroxyzine hcl 25 mg tablet reviews sertraline hydrochloride 50 mg tablet estrace estradiol erectalis paypal account ketazol tablets with windows chlamydia treatment antibiotics for sale walgreens employee website company walgreens employee login buy lantus in canada for us prozac and viagra aciphex online no prescription duphaston 10mg during pregnancy chlamydia pneumoniae and asthmachloroquinchloroquine colcrys coupon where to buy levitra antivert for vertigo alli india zenegra 100 zovirax ointment acyclovir ampicillin sulbactam brand name lipitor side effects muscle pain muscle pain in legs remeron withdrawal symptoms medication digoxin side effects in dogs diazepam for dogs with seizures kegunaan flagyl viamedic com vfw store promo buy generic viagra online mastercard cheap viagra from canada filling prescription for domperidone viagra chennai halliperodol for sale in uk viagra discount web sites berodual prezzo celecoxib 200mg walmart clavamox without rx finax cereal canada pharmacy pay with paypal celecoxib 200mg side effects buspar side effects and weight gain viagra mfg minoxidil for women hair growth paracetamol toxicity graph tylenol dosage for infants after dpt vaccine cymbalta philippines pilexil spray and forget levothroid dosages buy clomid online in the united states is prandin over the counter disgrasil tabletas digitalizadoras imovane 7 5mg zopiclone online cheapest place to buy viagra online tinidazole 500mg tablets buying levitra with paypal zantac side effects medication cabergoline 0.5mg tablets buy celexa without prescription piroxicam 20 mg and ibuprofen ebay viagra for sale online alesse generic flovent inhaler vimax malaysia dealer nosipren prednisone 20 mg no prescription tadalafil curacne 40 mg side effects cheap on line levitra meds is 4000 mg of atenelol fatal ozomen tablet information in hindi asthma symptoms in adults due to mold prevacid side effects vigora oil price in india baclofen side effects in children latisse before and after results cheap xanax and viagra uk yasmine bleeth mug shot procalisx reviews 50 how to take prometrium 100mg capsules overnite pharmacy 4 u how come lumigan 0.03 discontinued estradiol blood tests prandin side effects repaglinide cost prometrium progesterone coupons what is betanoid tablets used for pravastatin sodium 40 mg taapo asacol hd 800 mg tablet vilches ferreteros mexico city lamotrigine 25mg weight loss vrdrug reviews where can u buy black rock like viagra acheter prozac en ligne 20mg zestril without prescription cleocin t lotion zoloft weight gain or loss desyrel medication ciprobay antibiotic side effects lotemax eye drops medication viagra vipps pharmacies indomethacin 50mg capsules starcef cefixime 200mg zofran ex waht is levitra plus amlodipine besylate 10mg tab side effects mygra sildenafil provigil depression side effects cholesterol guidelines 2014 american heart association vendita cialis professional haldol decanoate the price of naltrexone in sa tablete za potenciju king man citodon buy sildenafile citrate 100mg prix bevispas tablets sale glucovance medication salzarex thyroxine sodium ketazol cream aspen dental fucidin ointment treatment for gaulded imitrex migraine medication dosage indomethacin dosage gout irbesartan 150 mg tablets lortab withdrawal symptoms kako radi tadalafil unisom and pregnancy 3rd trimester alphagan ophthalmic solution 0.15 duvadilan drug isoxsuprine shop for generic cialis cheap bactrim ds antibiotic xanax bars street value imiquimod 5 creams for genital wart septrin dosage syrup prazosin hcl 5 mg where to get nizagara canadian parmacy dose of zovirax for cold sores citrate toxicity treatment lowest price viagra 100 mg prometrium progesterone levels verapamil 240 mg sr capsules viagra buy in austria canada erection drugs clavupen 100mg zoloft ivermectin scabies where to buy ebay lumigan side effects lumigan can i buy cialis in bali my canadian pharmacy review dutasteride and saw palmetto alendronate 70 mg price motrin 600 mg side effects cardinal stritch university basketball ciprobay 500 side effects para que sirve amantadina pregnant man has baby advair side effects eyes metformin side effects on kidneys cialis non prescription safe online cialis famvir 500mg treatment famciclovir for shingles ivermectin for horses and dogs safe site to by trazodone zyprexa olanzapine medication ampicillim online alcohol puedo cialis is revatio genericrevia lipitor memory loss lawsuit generic levitra europe flagyl side effects in dogs cialis generico prezzi metallica one youtube himcolin cream puffs how to get plavix for free gneric viagra side effect of eltroxin tablets clindamycin side effects antibiotic dosage of famvir for shingles indomethacin 50 mg common side effects nolvadex side effects men prometrium 200 mg dose prometrium capsules depakote withdrawal side effects eldepryl medication can you buy lexapro 10 mg minocycline hcl 100 mg capsule does aetna pay for cialis deltasone 5 mg dose pack picture viagra without script uk drugs indocin for preterm labor dose vicodin overdose amount generic viagra shipped from canada sildenafil precio digoxin toxicity level in children buy viagra online in india pharmacy drugs without a prescription propecia online amex potassium rich foods list printable avalide side effects patient comments levomax 500 uputstvo cialis makes you bigger neofollin bestellen benoquin cream online allegra d 12 hour extended release tablets clozapine reg teva cheap erection pills how to order cytotec online purchase maxalt tablets on line requip starter pack instructions where to buy fucdin cream uk zyrtec dosage chart by weight cialis 30 day free trial coupon prednisolone 10mg blue pill 100 on one side qsymia cost zantac england orlistat 120mg capsules purchase levaquin antibiotics side effects viagra site that excepts mastercard best prices propecia cheap retin a cardinal bank hours how long to take clomid to get pregnant over the counter metformin salbutamol guaifenesin chlamydia trachomatis symptoms warfarin diet restrictions tylenol 3 dosage how to use misoprostol for abortion kmj radio ads viagra seroquel for sleep aid dicyclomine side effects buy tramadol from canada amoxicillin for sale online sweetcheeks eltroxin 0 1mg folic acid minocycline 100 mg for acne paroxetine hydrochloride drug side effects doxazosin cardura medication how to stop flushing with viagra jasmine guy lupus costco hours of operation california hydrochlorothiazide order online glucotrol side effects glipizide side como conprar cialis cialis canadian pha doxycap doxycycline side pharmacie en ligne maroc buy wellbutrin sr no prescription antibiotics without prescriptions uk procalisx ingredients in mayonnaise gupisone prednisolone 5 mg usage of water where to buy citolopram in canada ropinirole hcl 0.5mg tab proventil inhaler side effects in children redotex diet pills buy canadian metformin clavamox side effects for cats cheap discount cialis buy prescription drugs online legally betnesol injection overnight valtrexz lidocaine cream over counter femara infertility pregnancy low cost viagara estrotab 1mg is how many mcg malaseb pledgets dogs international pharmacy for men abilify on line cordarone drug information atarax medication verapamil 240 mg er capsules stilnox zolpidem 10mg getting off tramadol fast clonidine avalide side effects irbesartan proventil hfa online zyban smoking cessation rythmol manufacturer salbutamol guaifenesin asthma venta de viagra en worcester ma lumigan eye drops for sale farmacia online svizzera viagara cipa approved online 651 filagra super active can gabapentin get you high finasteride medication information stilnox 10mg sleep zolpidem medication best over the counter erection pill epogen injection dose viagra pills cheap viagra price list saroten tablet for kids que son paratextos diclofenaco de sodio voltaren medameds prices of silver viagra online for men salbutamol sulfate drug meloxicam 15 mg street value cabaser reviews prednisona para perros buy esomeprazole gupisone prednisolone 5 mg hydroxyzine pamoate for dogs cialis spedizione europa order predisone no prescription in usa microcidal 125mg to ml nexium nz generic sublingual viagra 50mg real viagra pills phenergan with codeine syrup medication viagra under tongue brandon clark viagra 007 para que sirve sert cheap viagra check finasteride generic visa detrol generic not effective ritalin dosages proviron side effects nolvadex kamagra price in malaysia discount genuine viagara meprate to start period a week early ventolin inhaler side effects malaseb pet shampoo ingredients eltroxin medication meclizine 12.5 mg tablet software programs for children sofilex wiki answerssoftware cyntra viagara radio commercials progesterone levels during pregnancy week by week cialis prix sotalol dose for atrial fibrillation mogadon nitrazepam side effects terramycin ointment for human use euthyrox 25 mcg ezetimibe 10mg price aciclovir tablets discount cialis from canada zanaflex addiction nexium otc vs prescription piroxicam medication dogs cheap generic nexium jual cytotec jakarta dynamogen drug interaction tretinoin gel 0.01 directions the 7 second pill viagra in dubai canadian rx propecia product fasigyn tablets information literacy xenical orlistat sale uk side effects of levothyroxine 75 mcg mobicool mini fridge price lamictal for depression stress ornidazole dispersible tablets no prescription canadian pharmacy viagra price per pill walgreens 6 buby alli uk raloxifene breast cancer treatment keflex antibiotic uses arcoxia 90mg tablet dosage proventil inhaler medication price clonazepam buy online beprogel solution cefovex 500 days viagra online china to china abg pill 100 flomaxtra xl 400 epson doxycycline for sale india how to buy clomiphene citrate zofran pregnancy risks birth defects prednisone 12 day dose pack directions proventil hfa inhaler coupons average price of viagra levofloxacin 500 mg usage metazole cream puff roaccutane greece microcidal vs microstatic furnace indapamide side effects medication tadalafil 20mg what is in claritin d ingredients pravachol blood pressure accutane long term side effects brain buy inderal mastercard valium vs xanax medications ropinirole medication cuckold creek hollywood md real estate prometh with codeine for sale tryptizol dosage of tylenol inderal for migraines reviews nizagara tablets reviews misoprostol induction protocol cailes like viagra online canada pharmacy no prescription antivert medication vertigo pet amoxicillin without a script buy prescription cough syrup online viagra tablet use in hindi buy viagra in san diego lynoral 0.05 nolvadex dosage for epistane who found good viragra latisse online ordering epharmacy usa medicines cialis online us optimmune ophthalmic ointment for dogs in genetics lipvas cipla india amitriptyline ohne rezept bestellen diamox side effects altitude sickness nartea callahan eye metrogel for rosacea bumps nolvadex dosage pct flagyl canada antibiotics for tooth infection in dogs pharmacie de garde casablanca suhagraat scenes india cheapest genaroc viagra what happened to online pharmacys brand viagra sustiva side effects efavirenz emtricitabine thalidomide multiple myeloma treatment nasonex side effects dose prozac for anxiety in dogs venta on line la viagra mas barata rocket launcher ambien side effects ambien addiction crestor price colchicine products for sale welbutrin sr overnite no prescription arimidex breast cancer generic drugs nexium esomeprazole 20mg in uk best drugstore powder kamagra 100 mg on line femara generic aspirin dosage buylowdrugs canada pharmacy ornidazole and ofloxacin cvs cialis 20mg price norvasc 10mg reviews bactrim no prescription online cheap ranbaxy eriacta 100 reviewserythroxescortsesopranesotidesquina cannadian pharmacy wellbutrin withdrawal and weight gainwesthroid paxil generic side effects atosil nebenwirkungen speed anxiety attacks while pregnant viamax coffee keftab patent medicine series 7 can i buy beta blockers in europe proviron mesterolone uses mobicool mobile refrigeration equipment finasteride dosage increasefinasterinefineviagraflomaxtra pyridium medication classification glucovance side effects metformin is alli available again nexium rx cheap tadacip online moduretic drug testing buy paroxetine online uk safe cheap viagra sites online stanozolol for dogs nosipren lowest priced no prescription z pack phenergan india capoten no prescription isoniazid pronunciation of english words side effects of minoxidil 5 for women eulexin manufacturer refurbished xenical 120 roche without prescription amoxicillin or zithromax for sinus infection periactin for sale ranigast lekue what is the real cost of zoloft dutasteride buy canada no prescriptio atomoxetine hydrochloride usp diclofenac potassium 50mg vs diclofenac sodium 50mg aristocort cream 0.1 rohypnols dubai levitra no rx needed lipitor order out of country online viagra sales canada where can i purchase sildenafil citrate zithromax and alcohol consumption valium 5mg side effects