Hollywood Adopts Bollywood; Irrfan Khan Happy to Play Second Fiddle to Hanks

Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia), October 20, 2016 | Go to article overview

Hollywood Adopts Bollywood; Irrfan Khan Happy to Play Second Fiddle to Hanks


IN BOLLYWOOD, Irrfan Khan is one of the biggest stars there is.

In Hollywood? Not so much.

He's found himself playing second fiddle to tigers (Life of Pi), superheroes (The Amazing Spider-Man), dinosaurs (Jurassic World) and now Tom Hanks (Inferno).

Does he mind?

"As an actor, you always want to be the main man, to be the lead," he admits.

"But in Hollywood cinema (what is enriching) is the vision of the director and the scale of the stories. Living in India, I wouldn't have been able to work with, say, Ang Lee."

While Lee directed Khan in the ground-breaking Life of Pi, the 49-year-old's relationship with international audiences began with British director Asif Kapadia's 2001 movie The Warrior.

Since then, he's worked with the likes of Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited), Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart), Mira Nair (The Namesake) and, most famously, Danny Boyle, playing the police inspector in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

The studios inevitably came calling.

"I didn't decide I was going to work in Hollywood," he shrugs.

"I never planned for it."

Is it strange for Indian fans reared on his Bollywood work to see him on the international stage?

"The audiences feel proud when they see me working with Tom Hanks or in Jurassic World," he answers.

"They have a sense of identity in the international market.

"I still remember when we did Slumdog Millionaire. I went to LA for the Oscar ceremony and I met this guy who was living there for 30 years and he said, 'After this film somehow, people are recognising me and giving me value' and he was crying.

"So that's what it does. It makes them feel 'we exist'."

Dressed in a tight-fitting coffee-coloured sweater and pin-stripe trousers, an expensive-looking stud earring nestled in his lobe, Khan is sitting in an upstairs room at the Forte di Belvedere, the 16th-Century Italian fortress overlooking Florence that today is playing host to the press launch for Inferno.

The third movie adaptation in Dan Brown's series of Robert Langdon books, following The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, it yet again sees director Ron Howard reunite with Hanks, who reprises his role as the smart-cookie symbiologist. …

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