Filmmaker Uday Shankar Pani recalls Irrfan’s early days working on Salaam Bombay

Actor Irrfan Khan was actually lucky enough to play a major role in Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay in 1986. Irrfan even did his workshops regularly and worked hard for the role, but was suddenly replaced with a bigger name for the same role – Raghubir Yadav. Irrfan didn’t grumble or get angry, however. He was tolerant and professional from the start of his career. He gracefully stepped back and even agreed to make a daytime appearance for the same film!

After filming the film, Irrfan was expecting at least 5,000 rupees. But I was the first assistant director and line producer on this project and I was negotiating for 2000 rupees. Like a tolerant professional, Irrfan quietly took the money and walked away.

Years later, when I was directing Siddharth Kak’s “Mano Na Mano”, I was surprised to see that the same actor, worth 2000 rupees, was now commanding two lakh rupees for a day’s shoot as anchor! Even Mira Nair was so impressed that the same tolerant and professional actor became her favorite, and she starred him for one of her feature films, The Namesake!

– Uday Shankar Pani, first assistant director and line producer at Salaam Bombay

(This is an excerpt from our May 2020 special edition on Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan. Please click this link https: // to read more)

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