Uncle who gave Irrfan Khan his first acting lessons heartbroken at Bollywood star's death
JAIPUR: Just four days after his mother Saidaa Begum’s death here, Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan bid goodbye to the world. Born and brought up in Jaipur and Tonk districts in Rajasthan, Irrfan had created a special identity for himself as a refined actor-star.
Very few know that Irrfan got his first lessons in acting from Jodhpur resident Dr Sajid Nissar who is his maternal uncle. Losing his sister and now his nephew within a few days is a huge jolt to Dr. Sajid. "It’s heartbreaking to know that Irrfan is no more. First my sister left the world and now Irrfan’s loss has devastated us. We knew that he was seriously ill for the past few days but this double blow is unbearable for our family," Sajid remarked.
He further revealed, "I had spoken to Irrfan a few days ago. He told me that his recovery was a very slow and painful process. Irrfan was hopeful that he would recover soon but that was not to be."
Given the lockdown regulations, Dr Sajid is sad that he will not be able to go to Mumbai to bid a final goodbye to his nephew. The duo had a very close bond as there was just a ten year gap between them.
"Irrfan used to be very shy when he used to come as a child to Jodhpur. I still remember that he saw his first theatre performance at the Jodhpur Town Hall and for days he kept asking me – When you go on stage in front of hundreds of people, don’t you get nervous? How do you hide your nerves on the stage," recalls his uncle.
Gradually, since Dr Sajid was actively involved with the theatre scene in Jodhpur, Irrfan too got attracted to drama and stage performances in a big way. It was due to his uncle’s strong impact on him that Irrfan began to take keen interest in theatre during his school and college days in Jaipur.
Later, it was through Dr Sajid that Irrfan got introduced to Jaipur’s noted theatre artists Laik Ahmed, Sabir Khan and Ravi Chaturvedi from whom the budding actor learnt a lot. A veteran of Jaipur theatre, Sabir Khan remembers that Irrfan was always dedicated to honing his craft and says, "Unlike most actors of this generation who have little focus, Irrfan wanted to understand the deeper shades of every character he played. That's why he used to read a lot of literature, art, history and politics so that he could improve himself as an artist."
Sabir who did many plays with Irrfan in Jaipur and helped him in his NSD admission, recalls that Naseeruddin Shah was his special ideal. "I had helped to improve his diction and even introduced him to the doyen of theatre, Bhanu Bharati. Irrfan was deeply impressed with Naseeruddin Shah and wanted to become a refined actor like Naseer. That's why he wanted to go to NSD where he got selected in his first attempt though many are unable to get in even after three attempts."
After he got admitted at the National School of Drama, Irrfan further honed his acting skills and soon he was recognized as a special talent. A bit later, Irrfan’s acting prowess made him an outstanding actor in the theatrical community in the country. Subsequently, of course, he was regarded as one of the most refined actors of Bollywood who also left a mark in some Hollywood films.
Born in a Nawabi family of Tonk in 1967, Irrfan was the eldest of three brothers. His death has left his family and relatives in Jaipur and Tonk in deep sorrow. His brother Salman reveals, "Our mother’s last wish was to see Irrfan defeat his disease and come back home healthy. But she died on the first day of Ramzan month and Irrfan had caught a last glimpse of her through a video call. Now that Irrfan bhai is gone, we really don’t know how to live our lives. Everything is so dark now."
Sadly, Irrfan could not fulfill his mother’s last wish of coming home as he could not overcome the cancer that had gripped his life since 2018.
Besides the family’s grief, Irrfan’s sudden death has left Bollywood and his fans in deep shock. Two years ago, he had himself tweeted to inform the world about his illness. He had admitted that he was suffering from a neuro-endocrine tumour which had suddenly disrupted his whole life. But he was hopeful that the love and positive energy of his family members would help him combat the disease.
Unfortunately, on 28th April, Irrfan’s hopes were dashed and he lost his battle. Despite his untimely death, he has left a body of work that will live on.