There are many different reasons to remember Homi Adajania’s Angrezi Medium, from being the last film released before the lockdown to being late actor Irrfan’s last film.
With the film completing one year of its release, the director recalls seeing faded posters of the film outside cinema halls, and admits that it made him realise they had “the shortest running film and the longest running poster in history”.
“Last year was a unique experience where I had less distractions and more time to figure what the whole circus of life is about. As for losing Irrfan, even though we were expecting him to pass around that time, when he died it took longer and was harder for me to process than I thought it would be,” Adajania tells us.
The film, a follow-up to Hindi Medium (2017), was released in the UAE market on March 12, and in India on March 13, but its box office run was cut short when COVID-19 pandemic forced a lockdown of the nation.
Looking back at the film’s journey, Adajania says, “Theatres shut down at midnight on the day of its release, so I think it had just 3 or 4 shows on that Friday.” At that time, he wasn’t overwhelmed with the feeling of disappointment, instead it left him struggling to comprehend the changing reality.
“I wasn’t concerned at that time because I probably thought that the cinemas would open again very soon. By the time several months of lockdown had passed, the predicament of its release was a memory, so I couldn’t really be bothered to dwell on it,” the 49-year-old admits.
Pleased that the film managed to reach a wider audience after its premiere on a streaming platform, Adajania says, “After almost a year, I remember seeing the faded Angrezi Medium posters still up outside the cinema halls and I sent a message to my producer congratulating us for having the shortest running film and the longest running poster in history!”
Irrfan, was still under treatment, when he began paving his way back into the acting world, starting with Angrezi Medium, which featured him in the role of a caring and protective father of Radhika Madan’s character. But fate had other plans as it became his last. He passed away on April 29 last year.
While Adajania had a tough time dealing with the loss, he clutched onto the memories of working with the cine icon on the film to help him move on.
“I remember he told me towards the end that if he could go back and change anything, he wouldn’t. He felt that the realisation that he had attained was so precious, that he wouldn’t have achieved it in a hundred lifetimes,” says Adajania, who previously helmed Being Cyrus (2005), Cocktail (2012) and Finding Fanny (2014).
Adajania reveals that Irrfan used to scoff “at spending so much of his life identifying himself as a label, ‘Irrfan Khan – famous actor, cross-over super star, blah blah blah”.
“He couldn’t believe that we actually limit our understanding of ourselves to what we want the world to think of us and what we believe the world thinks of us… The last few times that I met with him, Irrfan had achieved a rare sense of liberation — he was free from the self-imposed shackles that we start collecting from a very early age,” he shares.
Ask him how he would like to pay tribute to the late actor, Adajania makes it clear that he has no such intention.
“He’s got a special place in the memories of absolutely everyone he touched and that doesn’t need a date to be celebrated or announced, it’s just something that is always there,” he tells us.