Simplicity: for Haydée Lange (a tribute to Irrfan) - Jorge Luis Borges
I remember seeing Maqbool in my undergrad as a literature student. Perennially awestruck by Shakespeare, I was fascinated by what Vishal Bhardwaj had made of the bard. Irrfan’s interpretation of Macbeth is special because it represents most starkly his complete embrace of the vulnerabilities of his characters. Time and again, we ask - what is it that makes us root for the people he plays? sometimes even when they are not written with great complexity, but made real and magical by his signature groundedness.
I loved Maqbool because he was deliciously imperfect, yearning like all of us to do the right thing. He represented that tireless oscillation between right and wrong, filial and romantic love, power and insanity. Irrfan’s uncertain, alarming eyes conveyed an emasculation that was all too relatable. In the many scenes when Maqbool confronts the horror of what he has done I am reminded of lines from the original:
“Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses”
Irrfan’s eyes. What can one say about Irrfan’s expressive eyes that hasn’t been said… There is a line in Haasil, where he says in a moment of touching revelation, “Bhagwaan ne hame aise aankhein dedi kya kare?” Honestly - Kya kare?
I think what I loved most about Irrfan is not that he constantly embodied extraordinary things with great flair and star value, but that he interpreted the familiar with such spontaneous sincerity that it felt honest and real. It is a kind of simplicity, really:
“… simply to be accepted as part of an undeniable Reality, like stones and trees.” Rest in Poetry, friend.