Irrfan Khan's death: Bengali film veterans regret missed chances

Kolkata, Apr 29 (PTI) Actor Irrfan Khan's untimely demise has left the Bengali film industry with a deep regret about missing out on so many opportunities to work with one of the finest performers of the country.

Irrfan, 54, died in Mumbai hospital surrounded by his family, wife Sutapa and sons Babil and Aayan. The actor was fighting neuroendocrine tumour, a rare form of cancer with with he was diagnosed in 2018.

In his over three decade long career, the actor often transcended cultural and language barriers with films such as 'Maqbool', 'The Namesake', 'The Life of Pi' and many others.

However, he has only one film, 'Doob' to his credit in the Bengali cinema, something that the regional industry is now lamenting.

Prominent Bengali director Buddhadeb Dasgupta recalled that Irrfan was in talks for two of his projects -- 1989's 'Bagh Bahadur' and 2013's 'Anwar Ka Azab Kissa' -- but things failed to materialised each time.

'I have an all time regret, I could not cast him in any of my films. Years back he had come for audition for 'Bagh Bahadur' in Mumbai but that role also went to someone else. Whenever I met him we used to talk when we can finally work together,' the multiple National Award-winning director told PTI.

The filmmaking veteran described Irrfan as the best among the contemporary actors in Indian cinema who was versatile and had an appetite for non-conventional roles.

Dasgupta also recalled meeting the actor at his Mumbai house couple of years back for the last time.

Another Bengali filmmaker, director Goutam Ghosh, also wanted to work with Irrfan on a film based on author Kamal Kumar Majumder's work but financial difficulties prevented them from working on the project.

Ghosh recalled how full of life and energetic Irrfan was and never looked under stress.

'He was an actor of international standard. He was a very instinctive and spontaneous, he had great sense of humour,' he added.

Veteran actor-director Aparna Sen said she wanted to cast Irrfan in a film but at the time, he was scheduled to undergo a brain surgery.

'His portrayals in films like Lunchbox, Maqbool to name a few, his expressions will forever remain etched in my memory,' Sen added.

Director Srijit Mukherji also has the lingering regret of not been able to work with Irrfan.

'He had liked my Hemlock Society and we had plans to collaborate one day,' Mukherji said.

Actor Parno Mitra, who co-starred with Irrfan 'Doob', has fond memories of working with the star.

'He loved to play cricket. He used to bat and asked us to field. He never wanted to be given out. A man I have admired, an actor I have looked up to and and a co-actor I have loved working with. Irrfan will be missed,' Mitra said. PTI SUS RB RB BK BK