14 May, 2021

Stained Glass

Irrfan 'Maqbool' Khan is a hall of mirrors, reflecting ever so many shafts of grey

Abhijit Bhatlekar
Stained Glass
A loud disco beat is causing vibrations outside the industrial hall where Irrfan Khan is shooting, days after his Maqbool opened to rave reviews. Inside, the sets for the song sequence include a uniquely Bollywood combination of a stained-glass altar, red Chinese lanterns, an open-top sports car with bronze painted extras, supposedly displaced African tribals sleeping inside.

Half expecting to find Khan doing an item number, one finds him looking half embarrassed in a Pathan suit and covered head. Clearly, in an industry where he's been around for more than a decade, Khan's career is not yet keeping pace with his sizzling rebirth. Despite winning over audiences with his smouldering softness in Maqbool. Despite making the transition, after years of playing the villain in some forgettable TV serials, to searing lead performances in two new-age Hindi movies.

It's a jump that Khan, like most TV actors, has been preparing to make for a while, except he brings to his roles an aching eloquence rarely seen in Hindi cinema. In Bollywood, a world of unspoken rules...

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