Mumbai, Feb 26: Entertainment is not just time pass; it should "reflect the society that we live in", says seasoned actor Irrfan who is working with the motto of challenging the definition of entertainment.
A name to reckon with in the international arena thanks to his powerful performances in "The Namesake" and Oscar winning films "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Life of Pi", Irrfan is equally respected on home turf for his extraordinary work in "Maqbool" and "Paan Singh Tomar".
Sharing his views on movies and its content, the alumnus of the National School of Drama told IANS: "I am just trying to find entertainment, which is not regular definition of entertainment. It has to keep evolving and it should also reflect the society that we live in. I am constantly challenging the definition of entertainment. Entertainment has to do something more than just time pass."
With an interesting bouquet of work that boasts of variety and quality, have his options narrowed as an actor in pursuit of challenges?
"That has always been a problem because the industry doesn't know what to do after a point," Irrfan said, adding that once "they (filmmakers) thought they will make me a villain and I didn't expect that".
"But my job is to explore as much as possible even when I don't know where I would head to. And not knowing things has risk as well as fun in it," said the actor who entertained his fans with light-hearted roles in "Life... in a Metro" and "Sunday".
"Cinema should be entertaining" and at the same time "it should also leave some message and that is important for me", opined the 46-year-old.
"When you come out of the theatre and you don't even talk about that film or remember it, then it disappoints me. At times, even I do these kind of films (please don't ask me to name them), but I feel I should be part of those kind of films which should be worth watching again and again," added the Padma Shri recipient.
After the big success of "Paan Singh Tomar", a biopic on athlete-turned-outlaw Paan Singh Tomar, Irrfan's next is "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns".
A sequel to critically acclaimed 2011 offering "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster", Irrfan is a new edition to the cast. He joins Jimmy Sheirgill and Mahie Gill who were in the original. Soha Ali Khan too features in the latest instalment of the crime thriller directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia.
On the latest fad in Bollywood - the Rs.100-crore club - Irrfan felt it was "a ridiculous tag. It'll not do good to the industry".
According to him, filmmaking is a "combination of creativity and money".
"So you cannot reduce the power of story with the tag of money because it's not a share market. So you must know the seriousness of the power of storytelling. If it recovers its money, leaves something for the audience and creates the atmosphere of good filmmaking, that is something that matters. The tag of Rs.100 crore is harmful for the industry."
He would prefer his film to be known for its content and not just for the huge profit it earned at the box office.
"If my film continuously earns Rs.100 crore even then I will reject the tag because my film should be recognised for its story power. If a film is judged by money, it's a disrespect to the storyteller," he said.
(Uma Ramasubramanian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)