| Kolkata |
Updated: April 29, 2020 9:10:40 pm
Actor Irrfan Khan who passed away Wednesday at the age of 53 was in known in India and Hollywood for his seemingly effortless acting. But a childhood friend said the actor was once an aspiring cricketer who was a seen as a good all-rounder, and whose mother wanted him to pursue his studies.
Growing up in Jaipur, Irrfan’s love for the game was evident at a young age.
“It was the period around 1984-85 and he used to play with us at the 11-star cricket club,” said Bharat Bhatnagar, a childhood friend of the actor.
“Every evening from 4.30 PM to 6.30 PM, we used to practice at the Ayurvedic College which was right opposite my home. Irrfan used to stay at his house which was called ‘Saeeda Mazil’ near Subhas Chowk, around 10 minutes away from the ground,” the 57-year-old told indianexpress.com.
“We were both pace bowlers but he was tall and that helped him generate bounce off the pitch. At that time we had only two clubs in Jaipur that had mat wickets. I remember he would often trouble the batsmen with his bounce,” he said.
“However, his mother (Sayeeda Begum) was very strict and wanted him to focus on his studies. Hence, at times he had to lie to play a few tournaments with us. His father was supportive though,” Bhatnagar said.
“His favourite cricketers at that time were Kapil Dev and Gundappa Vishwanath. He was also an avid fan of Pakistan’s Imran Khan and Zaheer Abbas. He was particularly impressed with Vishwanath’s style of play. ‘Uske jaise khilari bohot kam hote hai’, Irfan used to say,” he said.
Sad to hear about Irrfan Khan’s death. He is a great success story. Barely had the money to watch Jurassic Park but 22 years later he acted a role in it.
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) April 29, 2020
Bhatnagar said the actor was also a good swimmer. “It was he taught me how to swim at the nearby talaabs. So for someone who was always fit and agile, 53 is too early to pass away,” he said.
Bhatnagar said that Irrfan might have shone on the cricket field if he had received more backing from his family, but “destiny had something else for him.”
“Sometimes he would also open the batting for us, so yeah he was a good all-rounder, a rare talent in those days,” he said.
When he visited The Indian Express in 2013, the actor, who had already won a Padma Shri for his acting performances, said he had chosen to pursue acting over sports since he felt he could pursue it for longer.
In 2017, Irrfan appeared on the chat show Son of Abish and spoke of how he abandoned cricket.
“I was an all-rounder and the youngest one in my team in Jaipur. I wanted to make a career out of it. I was selected for the CK Nayudu tournament I think and then I needed money and didn’t know who to ask. That day I decided I cannot pursue it.
“I wanted to become a cricketer. I was an all-rounder and the youngest one in my team in Jaipur. I loved batting more. My captain liked my bowling, so he made me a bowler,” said Irrfan, a self-proclaimed MS Dhoni fan.
What a captain you’ve been @msdhoni! Will always remember you winning world cups almost single handedly.
— Irrfan (@irrfank) January 4, 2017
“I wanted to make a career out of it. I was selected for the CK Nayudu tournament I think and then I needed money to go to Ajmer from Jaipur but that I couldn’t arrange.
“That day I decided I cannot pursue it,” said the Padma Shri awardee.
But Irrfan said he didn’t regret his decision. He later needed money for admission to the National School of Drama and it was his sister who had arranged for the money.
Irrfan has also spoken about his love for football and tennis. Spain’s Rafael Nadal was his favourite tennis star.
— Irrfan (@irrfank) July 14, 2016
Irrfan Khan is survived by his wife, Sutapa Sikder, and sons Babil and Ayan. He last appeared in Hindi film Angrezi Medium, a sequel to the hit Hindi Medium that he had starred in.
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