Babil Khan shared his thoughts on the changing status of Hindi cinema over the years and his father's contribution despite the many challenges.
Son Babil reflects on Irrfan Khan's work and the possibility of change in Hindi cinema
New Delhi - 09 Jul 2020 14:30 IST
Updated : 14:39 IST
Irrfan Khan’s son Babil has shared some views about his late father in a long and thought-provoking post on Instagram, reflecting upon 'Bollywood', as mainstream Hindi cinema is often called, and the way in which it is regarded in world cinema, with derision.
Writing about Irrfan Khan's contribution to the industry and the ways in which his films carved a space for cinema that was not seen as part of the mainstream, Babil Khan wrote, 'My father gave his life trying to elevate the art of acting in the adverse conditions of Noughties Bollywood [but] alas, for almost all of his journey, was defeated [at] the box office by hunks with six-pack abs delivering theatrical one-liners and defying the laws of physics and reality, PhotoShopped item songs, blatant sexism and same-old conventional representations of patriarchy.'
Babil Khan said that this continuing defeat the box office meant that most of the fresh investment in Hindi cinema would keep going to the winners, engulfing the industry in a vicious circle. 'Because we as an audience wanted that, we enjoyed it, all we sought was entertainment and safety of thought, so afraid to have our delicate illusion of reality shattered, so unaccepting of any shift in perception,' he rued. 'All effort to explore the potential of cinema and its implications on humanity and existentialism was at best kept by the sidelines.'
You know one of the most important things my father taught me as a student of cinema? Before I went to film school, he warned me that I’ll have to prove my self as Bollywood is seldom respected in world cinema and at these moments I must inform about the indian cinema that’s beyond our controlled Bollywood. Unfortunately, it did happen. Bollywood was not respected, no awareness of 60’s - 90’s Indian cinema or credibility of opinion. There was literally one single lecture in the world cinema segment about indian cinema called ‘Bollywood and Beyond’, that too gone through in a class full of chuckles. it was tough to even get a sensible conversation about the real Indian cinema of Satyajit Ray and K.Asif going. You know why that is? Because we, as the Indian audience, refused to evolve. My father gave his life trying to elevate the art of acting in the adverse conditions of noughties Bollywood and alas, for almost all of his journey, was defeated in the box office by hunks with six pack abs delivering theatrical one-liners and defying the laws of physics and reality, photoshopped item songs, just blatant sexism and same-old conventional representations of patriarchy (and you must understand, to be defeated at the box office means that majority of the investment in Bollywood would be going to the winners, engulfing us in a vicious circle). Because we as an audience wanted that, we enjoyed it, all we sought was entertainment and safety of thought, so afraid to have our delicate illusion of reality shattered, so unaccepting of any shift in perception. All effort to explore the potential of cinema and its implications on humanity and existentialism was at best kept by the sidelines. Now there is a change, a new fragrance in the wind. A new youth, searching for a new meaning. We must stand our ground, not let this thirst for a deeper meaning be repressed again. A strange feeling beset when Kalki was trolled for looking like a boy when she cut her hair short, that is pure abolishment of potential. (Although I resent that Sushant’s demise has now become a fluster of political debates, but if a positive change is manifesting, in the way of the Taoist, we embrace it.)
While placing the onus for the kind of pathetic films being churned out by mainstream production houses squarely on the shoulders of the audience, Babil Khan did, however, note that current times present a change in outlook.
Placing this within the context of the nepotism debate that has been sparked back to life by actor Sushant Singh Rajput's shocking death by suicide, he noted that there appears to be a change, a 'new fragrance in the wind' and wrote that the 'new youth, searching for new meaning, must stand our ground, not let this thirst for deeper meaning be repressed again'.
While resenting the fact that Rajput's death has become a football in the political games within the film industry and outside, he said nevertheless that if a positive change is beginning to come about, we should embrace it.
Irrfan Khan, who had been battling a rare form of cancer since 2018, died suddenly on 29 April this year.