Irrfan Khan, the talented global Indian star, in an interview said how cancer has forced him to see life in a totally different light. After the initial phase of being shaken and vulnerable, now he doesn’t make plans, is more spontaneous and is loving the experience.
Irrfan Khan is undergoing treatment for neuroendocrine tumour in London.
Actor Irrfan Khan is a Bollywood star and Hollywood chameleon, who has bounced between the two with ease for decades, working with everyone from Mira Nair to Wes Anderson and Ang Lee and stealing scenes in both Oscar-winners (Slumdog Millionaire) and blockbusters (Jurassic World) alike. But all that’s been put on hold as he undergoes treatment in London for a neuroendocrine tumour, a rare form of cancer.
Although Khan’s life now is very different from only a few months ago, he still has films that he worked on as recently last year coming out, including Puzzle, a poignant character drama expanding to 11 cities this weekend.
The indie film from Oscar-nominated producer Marc Turtletaub (Little Miss Sunshine) is about a stifled suburban housewife, played by Kelly Macdonald, who forms a bond with a more cosmopolitan man, (Khan), over a shared fondness for puzzles. It’s one that the 51-year-old actor is immensely proud of, and eager to talk about, but, he also knows very keenly how unpredictable his life has become.
When I call him for our interview, he answers politely and informs me that he’s been hospitalized the night prior and asks if might be possible to call him back in 10 minutes. Of course, I say. This happens again, when Khan’s doctors come in to talk to him and he politely asks if we might pick it up tomorrow.
Below are excerpts from our conversations. They have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Khan: I was looking for something for a long time in American cinema, Hollywood cinema. I have been reaching for this, for a personal experience where I could invest myself and I could have more meat that I could get apart from myself completely and get into something which is unknown. This character had complexity and a strange unpredictability where he himself doesn’t know where things are moving and is in a limbo state. There are so many interesting angles to this person. I was looking for something more personal and to redefine my involvement in a story, where my soul could entangle with this story. You want residue, you want it to last. So it had all that. And the simplicity of writing was fantastic. It was a complex situation, but I love that the way it comes out of the characters’ mouths is very simple. So I fell in love it with it and I shifted my schedule in India and said, “I’m going to do it.” It worked out and I really loved it.