Life of Pi’s Irrfan Khan: “We don’t have a culture of realistic acting in India”

irrfan-khan-life-of-piIrrfan Khan has finally found roles that have helped him break away from Bollywood—with his newest turn in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

“I did those films, but I was never, ever comfortable with things like just breaking into a dance without any rhyme or reason,” he said in an interview with NPR.  “I think it’s a kind of a challenge for an actor to believe in these situations which are completely fantastic…These elements are not really used in an innovative way; they are more used as a kind of formula, and that takes away the strength of these elements.  But I think it’s a great way of entertaining people and trying to create a world to make-believe in.  I like that, but I couldn’t do it.”

Khan knew from a young age that he wanted to be an actor, and he ended up studying at India’s National School of Drama.  However, Khan notes that learning acting is very different in India than in America.  “We don’t have a culture of realistic acting in India.  Our films are still influenced by Parsi theater,” he said.  “Parsi theater was known for melodrama.  So even in today’s time, it still carries that melodramatic aspect; it’s still there in our cinema…It’s all about emotions, and you just have to project your emotions; you don’t have to behave in a realistic way, you don’t have to be believable, you just have to mesmerize the audience with histrionics.”

“We don’t have any ‘school’ like you have here.  You have teachers like Stanislavsky who developed their own techniques and their own way of teaching people how to go about doing a role or performing a role realistically.  We have no techniques, so it’s like trial and error.  You find your own method.  You try things, you learn things by doing it.”

Through his training and subsequent roles, Khan came to think of acting as duets. “You strike a note, and somebody responds, and then you respond accordingly,” he noted.

Khan’s most well-known role, in the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, has helped him earn other roles and increased his popularity.  “It didn’t have any direct effect as far as Indian viewership or Indian exposure is concerned,” he said.  “It didn’t do the slightest thing in my life, but definitely here in America, people have seen it, and it was a real opportunity for me to be in the [Oscar] ceremony…It gave me a visibility in America, but there were films which I did which were close to me, [like] The Namesake—you know, I’m still very fond of that film—which really made a difference in my life as far as the American market is concerned.”

Life of Pi is now playing in theaters.

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/sally-field-hello-my-name-is-doris.jpg
Sally Field On Improvisation, How She Chooses Her Roles and ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’
“There’s a dearth of roles for women. I turn down a lot of stuff because there’s just nothing in it for me to do.” – Sally Field   Actress Sally Field put in an appearance at SXSW last week to promote her new film, Hello My Name is Doris. Michael Showalter has directed the movie […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Will-Ferrell-Get-Hard.jpg
Will Ferrell on His Comedy Roots, ‘Get Hard’ and His Favorite Roles to Play
Ferrell was on hand to take part in a Q&A and spoke more about how working with Hart came about. When asked if he chooses his projects based on who he wants to work with, or the script itself, Ferrell explained that each project was different.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/daniel-dae-kim.jpg
Hawaii Five-0’s Daniel Dae Kim Talks Directorial Debut: “The first day I had to yell action, it was kind of odd”
Hawaii Five-0‘s Daniel Dae Kim, who fans know best as Chin Ho Kelly, recently made his directorial debut on the CBS series. Kim shared his experience with The Hollywood Reporter, saying that his experience was “weird at first,” as he had to direct his co-stars. “The first day I had to yell action, it was […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Ellie-Kemper-Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt.jpg
Ellie Kemper on ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, Doomsday Cults and Tina Fey
When Ellie Kemper joined The Office in season 5, her character Erin Hannon wasn’t intended to be one of the show’s primary characters. However, Kemper won producers over with her portrayal of the cheerful, naive receptionist and Erin was heavily featured in the series’ final seasons. Her portrayal also impressed 30 Rock producers Tina Fey […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/lily-james-cinderella.jpg
Lily James on Auditioning for ‘Cinderella’ and the Hardest Scenes She Had to Shoot
"The good thing is wearing something like that sort of changes how you stand and it gives you a sense of grace that you can use to your advantage as an actor" - Lily James on wearing corsets