Remembering Irrfan Khan: Actor’s ‘Karwaan’ Is A Memorable Road Trip

Remembering Irrfan Khan

Everyone who knew actor Irrfan Khan or was enamoured by his persona, talent and on-screen presence is mourning his demise as April 29 marks the second death anniversary of the actor. Known for his stellar performances in Hollywood and Bollywood films, the actor passed away in April 2020 after a brief battle with cancer.

Khan made a mark in the chronicles of Indian cinema as one of the greatest actors we have witnessed. His loss left a void in the world of cinema that rarely goes unnoticed. From gritty, grim films to comedy, quirky romance films, Irrfan has done it all and with a performance so effortless that livens up the characters.

The actor always carried a profound aura which translated into his characters as well. Be it Piku’s Rana, The Namesake’s Ashok or Yogendra aka Yogi from Qarib Qarib Singlle—every character he played left a mark on the audience in ways unimaginable. His contribution to the Indian cinematic world also earned him a Padma Shri award.

Remembering Irrfan Khan

Cinephiles across the world are celebrating the actor through memories and his remarkable filmography; this is a small ode from an ordinary person for another who was gifted with talent extraordinaire. The small ode where I revisit his film Karwaan, one of his last films.

Starring Dulquer Salmaan, Mithila Palkar and others, the 2018 dramedy is one of the gems of Khan’s career spanning decades. The film that deals with death, grief and human relationships always yielded the power to tug at people’s heartstrings with situational comedy that sporadically erupted as Shaukat (Khan), Avinash (Dulquer) set out on a road trip to exchange dead bodies and had to deal with a willful young woman Tanya (Palkar).

The Akarsh Khurana directorial is far from being a perfect film with extremely problematic moments, especially around Shaukat. The character seems so shallow, and regressive in one moment but there are instances where he is progressive as well.

Karwaan’s Shaukat is a mirror that Khurana holds for the audience to introspect and understand how flawed we humans are. Each character has their inner world which was brought out during the road trip they embark on.

In spite of the starkly contrasting personality of other characters, Irrfan’s Shaukat stays connected with the other two because they have all lost something in life. While Avinash is struggling to make peace with the loss of a father he was estranged from, Shaukat dealt with memories of his abusive father by pronouncing him dead.

Shaukat is a half-baked character who somehow has the most profound dialogues that have comforted me through my tough times. He encapsulates the problematic aspect of the relationship very beautifully in a one-liner that no other actor except Irrfan could have delivered with emotions as he did.

Logon ko haq jatana aata hai, Rishta nibhana nahi aata. (People know how to assert their rights, but they don’t know how to maintain a relationship).” This dialogue was one of the statements that helped me grieve some relationships, once integral, now partially severed.

Just when you ridicule Shaukat for being such an archaic snob, you are met with the scene where he helps a woman, trapped in a marriage with an old shehnai player, elope with him after she divorces the latter with ‘triple talaq, a practice of divorce recognised by Islam which is now banned by the Supreme Court.

Somehow, his character Shaukat who is the polar opposite of what I believe in stayed with me at the end of the film. His hilarity, his one-liners were breath of fresh air. Hussain Dalal’s dialogues and Irrfan’s craft birthed a special character in a simple run-of-the-mill film. The film is not a sermon, but rather a sweet story from which one takes their own lesson which makes it all the more endearing.

The views expressed are the author’s own

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