“The day I become conventional, something inside me will die.”
– Irrfan Khan
“I am the only one of a kind!”
– Rishi Kapoor
When you think about it, both Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor were two sides of the same coin. One began his career with unconventional films and moved towards exploring commercial cinema, the other, well-known for his legendary commercial outings, turned to offbeat topics and movies in his later years.
While the country mourns the loss of these two extraordinary performers, we want to celebrate some of their more unconventional yet highly binge-worthy set of gems — you might want to watch and appreciate over the weekend.
1. Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
Portraying an athlete-turned-dacoit in the hinterlands of Madhya Pradesh, Irrfan hits it out of the park with an unparalleled character study. A biographical movie that shows why he’s one among the most celebrated artists in the industry, Irrfan brings to life the true story of a man forced to rebel against a corrupt and unjust system.
2. Maqbool (2003)
An Indian adaptation of Macbeth, Maqbool is a powerful saga of tragedy but isn’t a literal translation of sorts. The director has taken the film from its monumental confines and turned it into mob drama, perhaps to make it more appealing for the time it first released. Subtle but strong, Khan’s character in Maqbool is more than believable. If anything, the feature speaks highly of the versatility that Khan brought to cinema time and again.
3. Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008)
In a small but significant role, Irrfan shines among an ensemble cast in a movie that tells the story of five people whose lives are affected by the 2006 Mumbai train bombing. In his role as a street vendor, abused by police, leads him to relieve his feelings by calling in fake bomb scares at malls. Irrfan effectively portrays the travails of the lower common denominators in our society during times of crisis.
4. Qarib Qarib Singlle (2017)
Well-known for heavy lifting through some of the most difficult roles in Indian cinema, Irrfan showed his light and breezy side in this travel rom-com, that’s about a woman who meets a man with a polar opposite personality through an online dating app. Playing Yogi, a lesser-known poet with a happy-go-lucky, open-hearted, and talkative personality, Irrfan immediately endears his character to the audience with his comedic timing.
5. The Namesake (2006)
Set in New York, Irrfan Khan flexed his thespian muscles to portray the travails of a traditional Indian immigrant who struggles to understand his son’s overture towards western culture, showcasing his talent for the first time to an international audience. Irrfan’s role as Ashoke Ganguly is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
6. Mulk (2018)
Based on a real-life story, Mulk depicts the struggles of a Muslim family in Benaras. Rishi Kapoor has the nuance in his voice while playing the role of Murad Ali Mohammed and paints an accurate picture as the patriarch of the family who refuses to bow down to the conflict manifested in the name of religion and religious persecution.
7. D-Day (2013)
Rishi Kapoor holds his own in a stellar cast by playing the role of the most wanted criminal in this thriller. Following a team of spies charged with bringing him in, Irrfan Khan is seen in the film as Wali Khan too. With panache in their personalities, they add a dry sense of humor and spunk to a tense movie — making the characters more believable and memorable.
8. Do Dooni Chaar (2010)
This film celebrates middle-class families in India, unlike any other. Depicting a struggling math teacher trying to make ends meet, Rishi Kapoor does justice to his role as Santosh Duggal. The movie is an ode to families that don’t give up on their daily-grind and aspire to do well for themselves. Kapoor and crew are sure to leave you in awe with their performance as zestful ordinary folks leading an extraordinary life.
9. Kapoor & Sons (2016)
Ironically, a wheelchair-bound Rishi Kapoor walks away with most of the credits of making the film what it is — worth the watch. The portrayal of an old man swept away with Mandakini’s beauty, followed by unbelievable comic timing, makes his character thoroughly unique. In Kapoor & Sons, Bollywood’s finest come together to showcase a dysfunctional modern family. Addressing that no one family is perfect, the movie celebrates the oddity of life.
10. Prem Rog (1982)
Simply put, Rishi Kapoor plays his role phenomenally and has great command on the dramatic sequences in Prem Rog — that ends on a rather high note with a powerful social message in action. Filmed in the 1980s, the movie was way ahead of its time. What doesn’t seem too fresh of a topic in the 21st century was once an alarming concern. Tackling critical issues like the remarriage of widows, the film tries to decode the age-old traditions, class barriers, and gender bias in society.
Comment below to tell us which other films should have made the cut in this unconventional list!