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Hungry for more



A reluctant non-vegetarian...Irrfan shares his food habits and film preferences at New Delhi's Maurya Sheraton. Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

HIS INTENSE persona fills with the fear of the unknown, a volcano that is breathing uneasy, but allow Irrfan Khan to erupt and the performer turns out to be a reservoir of cool eloquence. At times it overflows like the police officer of Rog who prefers to play with words. While at times it recedes like a person who has endured the treatment of a stranger in a world that belonged to him. Asked to share his food habits, his famous eyes for once reveal that the stranger is finally home.

"For me food has always been just a means of survival. It is only recently that I have started having food for taste. Still things have not changed much," shares Irrfan relaxing at New Delhi's ITC Maurya Sheraton.

Grilling taste

At the table, however, his hunger is limited and a glass of orange juice and a chicken sandwich are enough too keep him going. "Basically, these days I am avoiding spicy food. Call it the requirements of the profession, where fitness and physique have become really important or my experience with different cuisines in the last few years, these days I love grilled food." He is experimenting with Lebanese food. "The grilled vegetables attracted me." Not the non-vegetarian stuff? "No, I have become a reluctant non-vegetarian."

Grill him over the latest trend where actors are shedding the male ego tag and are ready to be used by the female form, be it John Abraham in Jism or Irrfan himself in Maqbool and again in Rog, where as Uday Chauhan he shuns duty for lust, Irrfan pauses for a moment before saying, "I personally don't believe in male ego. We always have Dilip Kumars and Rajesh Khannas making careers by falling for the female form. However, being used by a female is indeed a new thing but I haven't thought about it. Maybe it is an attempt to give something new to the audience." Again novel is the treatment of bold subjects where locations and characters are alien. Illene Hamann is a case in point. "I agree to an extent but in Rog there is nothing much to read between the lines. An actor with an image would not have fit in the role.The presentation of women should be seen in the light of the changing role of women in the society. Take the example of the film industry; it is filmmakers like Pooja Bhatt, Vinta Nanda and Leena Yadav who are bringing forth fresh facets of their gender. I am looking forward to both White Noise and Shabd."Irrfan maintains he may not understand networking but finally he is getting there, where his work can win him both the money and enjoyment. "I won't allow the fire to be doused."

It is his simplicity in accepting ignorance, confessing limitations, the effortlessness in admitting he never thought he would be a part of the glamorous Bollywood, the mischievousness in accepting he doesn't show he has seen 37 summers ("I thought I looked 42") that puts him in a different league in a `know-all' industry.

Good old days

The actor from Rajasthan still remembers his simple old days at the National School of Drama where his favourite urad ki dal used to top the menu. "It still remains there. Urad ki dal with ghee," he reemphasises with eyes at their obliging best. "I used to cook as well. I excelled at aloo gobhi." Here again Irrfan relates the importance of ghee in imparting taste. "I am also good at rice recipes - pulao and biryani," he adds.

That's passé. "These days I take home-cooked food with lots of salad to the sets because on the sets you get very spicy food." We know success comes with frills, but ghee is a healthy loss in this tortoise's race to the podium.

ANUJ KUMAR

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