Deepak Dobriyal on his Hindi Medium Co-star Irrfan Khan:  “I’m Pretending Irrfan Bhai Is Still With Us”
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Deepak Dobriyal on his Hindi Medium Co-star Irrfan Khan: “I’m Pretending Irrfan Bhai Is Still With Us”

Deepak Dobriyal pays tribute to his Hindi Medium co-star

Deepak Dobriyal who is in faraway Uttarkhand is now negotiating a new form of lockdown. “I am in  a state of denial about Irrfan Bhai’s going. Till the other day he was a fighter,  a warrior in the true sense  of the word. People from the outside can’t see what he went through for three and a half years. I was with him. I know the pain he and his wife Sutapa have endured. I can’t imagine he has been defeated in the battle. So I am here pretending to myself that he’s still with us.”

Deepak spent a good four years shooting with Irrfan and getting to know him. “And he became not just  a part of my life but my wife’s too. He would tell my wife to look after me  and handle me with kid’s  glove as I am very bholu (innocent). After coming in contact with Irrfan Bhai my wife actually started  looking at me with more respect. That’s how generous kind and loving Irrfan  Bhai was towards me. I remember a Holi party at Tighamshuj i(Dhulia)’s home some years ago… as soon Irrfan Bhai saw me  he rushed  to me and kissed me so hard  on my forehead that Tigmasnhuji commented, ‘Yaar, why haven’t we worked  together yet?’.”

Deepak reveals  that  Irrfan looked out for him.  “As an actor and a brother he was protective  of me. I remember when I had done a shot in Hindi Medium that he  specially liked he wanted to edit  it personally so my performance showed up well. Kaun aisa karta hai? He recommended me for many film like Blackmail and Qareeb Qareeb Single but made sure no pressure was put on me to accept the offers. We  actually did just two films together Hindi Medium and Angrezi Medium. But it seems  like  a lot more because of  the impact. We spent a good four years of our lives doing these two films.Working with him changed my life. I learnt  about how generous an actor can be to a co-star  and that long-lasting  friendships can be made even in this  professional industry. We were so good together  on screen  because we never felt threatened  by one another. We were like two sides  of  the same coin.”

Deepak’s favourite Irrfan performances? “Was he ever less than brilliant? But I think Haasil, Paan Singh Tomar,Maqbool, Life In  A  Metro,The  Namesake and  Lunchbox were the highpoints  of  his career. I even liked him in Chandrakanta.  But when I said so he would get annoyed.”

Deepak pauses  to  remember that his  dear friend and brother is  actually gone. “Yeh  iss saal  ho  kya raha hai (what  is  happening this year?). I am  stuck so far away. I couldn’t bepresent  at my Bade Bhai’s last rites. I can’t forgive myself for this. My heart  reaches out to Sutapa Bhabhi(Mrs Irrfan Khan).People have seen only 5 percent  of the struggle Irrfan has gone through. The other 95 percent that Sutapa Bhabhi went  through is not known to anyone.”

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