by ASJAD NAZIR CELEBRATING IRRFAN KHAN’S CAREER AHEAD OF HIS NEW CINEMA RELEASE HE MAY be recovering from illness, but Irrfan Khan continues to show just why he is one of the finest actors working in the world today. Despite stepping away from the spotlight, the acclaimed star has this year won awards, received massive acclaim for Blackmail, smashed records with the China release of his 2017 blockbuster Hindi Medium, and delighted festival goers with Hollywood drama Puzzle. His hotly-anticipated next movie Karwaan releases on August 3 and is a comedy-drama about three very different individuals who embark on a road trip with a dead body. The hardworking actor also has a number of big film offers when he is fully recovered. Eastern Eye wishes the amazing actor well as he recovers and pays tribute to his greatness with an all-you-need-to-know A-to-Z about him and an interview with Karwaan director Akarsh Khurana. A is for Awards: The acclaimed actor has earned multiple honours and award nominations throughout his career. Stand-out moments have included a Filmfare and National Award for his role in Paan Singh Tomar, and most recently multiple honours for his starring role in blockbuster hit Hindi Medium (see H). In 2011 he was a recipient of India’s fourth-highest civilian honour the Padma Shri. B is for Breakthrough: After years of struggling to establish himself, the actor shot to international fame with a starring role in British director Asif Kapadia’s film The Warrior, which won a BAFTA award and universal acclaim. Irrfan has always acknowledged how much of a turning point in his career The Warrior was and maintained a close friendship with Kapadia. He is set to team up with the director again for the cinematic adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s novel Moth Smoke. C is for Change: Contrary to popular belief, Irrfan didn’t add an extra R to his first name because a numerologist told him to. The actor apparently did it because he liked the sound of the extra R in his first name. D is for Drama: The actor learned the nuances of his craft at the National School Of Drama and has fond memories of his time there. Learning the craft is something he advises aspiring actors to do and said: “In the National School of Drama we learned how to perform, deliver a dialogue or monologue, and how to carry a certain body language for a character that we are playing. But the thought that always played in my mind is how a character establishes its relevance in silence, without uttering a dialogue. In film acting especially, it works – a small expression, a small silence, and then amalgamate it with the subtext of the situation.” E is for English: In terms of box office (see G), Irrfan is the most successful Indian actor of all time. One of the main reasons he has been able to do this is by skilfully balancing Hindi cinema with a wide array of English language projects, including big Hollywood blockbusters. F is for Fan: The actor of course has a lot of fans, including high-profile ones. Hollywood star Mindy Kaling took to Twitter to publically proclaim that Irrfan was her favourite actor in the world, and also expressed a strong desire to work with him. G is for Greatest: If terms of all-time box office collection, Irrfan Khan is the most successful Indian actor ever. His movies, including high-profile Hollywood releases like Jurassic Park, The Amazing Spider-Man and Life Of Pi, have collectively grossed billions of dollars globally, which is higher than other Indian film star in history. H is for Hindi Medium: The comedy-drama about parents who will do whatever it takes to get their child into the best school was perhaps the finest Bollywood film of 2017. Not surprisingly, it got great reviews, big box office returns and multiple awards including Best Actor honours for Irrfan. In 2018 it was announced there would be a sequel to the movie, which also released in China and smashed records. I is for International: Today Irrfan is the only bonafide male international Indian star, having carved out a successful career in Hollywood and Bollywood. He has balanced a variety of roles in the two biggest movie industries in the world and remains on the wish list of producers globally wanting to work with him. J is for Jurassic World: There are many interesting stories connected to the impressive rise of the international star. This includes him not being able to afford a ticket when the first Jurassic Park movie came out in 1993 and then playing a key role in the fourth instalment Jurassic Wo-rld in 2015, which grossed over $1.672 billion at the box office. K is for K Asif: In 2017 the acclaimed actor confessed that his dream role was to portray legendary Mughal-e-Azam director K Asif in a biopic of his life. He has received the blessing of K Asif’s son Akbar Asif, who said only Irrfan Khan can play the role of his father and do justice to it. L is for Lunchbox: A major landmark movie in the career of the actor is The Lunchbox, which crossed over to non-Asian audiences in a way no Hindi film had ever done before. The heart-warming story of two individuals forming a connection through a tiffin box generated universal acclaim, multiple awards and huge numbers at the box office. The globally successful movie had only got made because Irrfan believed in the project and helped them raise the final finance for it. M is for Mira Nair: Irrfan received his first big break from director Mira Nair while he was still studying to make a cameo in her award-winning movie Salaam Bombay in the late eighties. Many years later she would cast him to play a key role in her big screen adaptation of best selling novel The Namesake in 2006. N is for No: The in-demand actor has turned down a number of high-profile films due to things like scheduling conflicts. Perhaps the two biggest were Hollywood blockbusters Interstellar and The Martian. O is for Oscars: Irrfan is the only Hindi cinema star to feature in two films that have won an Oscar for Best Director, which were Slumdog Millionaire and Life Of Pi. Both movies went on to win a number of other Academy awards. P is for Paan Singh Tomar: Another landmark movie in the career of the actor is a biographical drama which generated universal acclaim and earned him multiple accolades including National and Filmfare Best Actor awards. The true life story revolved around a gold medal-winning athlete who was forced to become a bandit. Q is for Qarib Qarib Singlle: Irrfan has teamed up with his wife Sutapa Sikdar (see W) for the films Qarib Qarib Singlle and Madaari, which she produced and he starred in. R is for Rajasthan: The actor was born Sahab-zade Irfan Ali Khan in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Instead of joining the family business, he would instead move to New Delhi to study and then later to Mumbai to pursue his ambitious acting dream, starting at the very bottom and working his way to the top. S is for Shakespeare: Director Vishal Bhardwaj has delivered a number of acclaimed Bollywood adaptations of William Shakespeare classics. The first was Maqbool, which starred Irrfan in the title role inspired by Macbeth. Irrfan would later appear in Bhardwaj’s Hamlet adaptation Haider. T is for TV serials: Before finding international fame as a movie star, Irrfan acted in numerous Indian TV serials during the 1990s including Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj, Sara Jahan Hamara, Banegi Apni Baar, Chandrakanta, Shrikant, Darr, Bhanvar and Sparsh. He also acted in a teleplay on Doordarshan titled Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode where he played Lenin. U is for Upcoming Films: The actor may be on a sabbatical while he recovers from serious illness, but he remains very much in demand in both Hollywood and Bollywood. Some of his completed projects include Bollywood comedy Karwaan and Hollywood film Puzzle, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. He is also planning to team up with British director Asif Kapadia for a film and is being lined up to play K Asif in a biopic of his life. V is for Voice: The actor’s very distinct voice was used for the character Baloo in the Hindi dubbed version of Hollywood blockbuster The Jungle Book, which clocked up huge numbers in India. W is for Wife: Irrfan is married to talented writer and producer Sutapa Sikdar. They have two children, Babil and Ayaan. X is for X Factor: The X factor that has perhaps set the actor apart from his contemporaries is his incredible versatility, which has allowed him to play a wide array of characters in diverse genres. This versatility has given him the ability to play pretty much any character. Y is for Youngster: Growing up, Irrfan wanted to be a cricketer and later decided to become an actor when he got a scholarship to attend the National School of Drama. Z is for Zodiac: Born on January 7, Irrfan is a Capricorn. They are seen as the most determined and hard-working of all the star signs. Irrfan has used these qualities to build up an impressive body of work and a reputation as one of the finest actors in the world. Long may it continue.