Home / Interviews / “In India, we learn English to feel superior to those who don’t know the language,” says Irfan Khan

“In India, we learn English to feel superior to those who don’t know the language,” says Irfan Khan

If you’re as mesmerized by Irrfan Khan as we are, here is some good news for you. Irfan Khan’s ‘Hindi Medium’ is expected to go on floors on 19th May. It has been successful in creating a buzz already. The film stars Irrfan opposite a Pakistani actress Saba Qamar. The story of the film revolves around a couple based in Chandni Chowk who is trying to find acceptance in Delhi’s elite class. Directed by Saket Chaudhary. Irfan interview is here, where he talks about ‘Hindi Medium’ in detail.

Why is English so hyped in India? Why do we look down upon Hindi? Any specific reason?

Education has become an industry, a business. Education follows the principles of entrepreneurship. As far as giving primacy to the English languages goes, knowing any language is good. But in our country, if you don’t know English then you are not taken seriously. This is a tragic colonial legacy. A new language is supposed to create a different circuit in your brain, it expands your horizon. In India, we learn English only to feel superior to those who don’t know the language. Especially parents have a conception that if their child learns English, their future is going to be bright. India has a perception about English being the language of class, which is just not true.

How do we make Hindi language as relevant as English ?

Parents in India are sometimes confronted with a dilemma whether Should they send their child to an English medium school and vernacular medium school? Mostly send their child to the former because we have created a wide difference between the two mediums. Government proper assistance and supervision is required. There is nothing wrong in learning different languages but on the contrary, one should have proper command on his mother tongue and should take immense pride in it.

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Tell us something about your upcoming movie, ‘Hindi Medium.’

Hindi Medium tackles a social issue – the craze for and obsession with admitting children to English-medium schools. Content is the core, which will carry this film and not me. Film also talks about how parents have to face the absurd situation at the time of their child’s admission. The concept is not new; it’s just that, no films were made on this sensitive issue until now.

How important is it for any actor to have good command over English language in the industry?

Over the period of time, English has dominated the industry and it still does. Actors of today’s time are obsessed and accustomed to this language to the extent that their thought process is also fascinated by English. The situation was not the same 20 years back. India’s legendary actors like Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Raj kapoor and Dilip Kumar had the knack for Hindi language, while having a good command on English on the other side. They valued both languages equally. Bollywood mei hindi films banti hai english nahi, Hindi janna bahut zaruri hai.

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Do you think being a celebrity, your freedom of speech gets curtailed with respect to social issues, which pops up every now and then in the country.

Some of us have a strong voice and we have to use it, irrespective of whatever profession we are in. We should never get intimidated by anyone. We should always voice our opinion no matter what!

How do you deal with trolls and public lashing?

As far as people’s criticism is concerned Rajesh Khanna had a good answer in the film Amar Prem when he sang Kuch toh log kahenge logon ka kaam hai kehna, sach zinda rehta hai troll zyda din zinda mhi rehta. My only point here is, if you are being criticized for something wrong that you may have done, mistakenly, you should apologize and if you haven’t done any, then just take stand for yourself.

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Not so long ago, Sonu Nigam had tweeted about having a problem with Islamic community for using loudspeakers during Azaan. How do you react to this?

We need to understand if our society really has got issues with sound and noise, if yes, then all the areas which are  major sources of sound, which are creating inconvenience to the society like, clubs and lounges to name a few, should be taken into consideration equally and should not just target Azaan. Changes should be done in the society by having broader perspective.

How important is box office collection for you?

Well, it’s important not because I want to make plenty of money, but because producer’s and director’s huge amount and effort gets invested in the making of any movie, this comes as a responsibility on my shoulder and which is why I look forward towards the big and strong opening of the movie, more than the opening, movie should do good in numbers eventually along with the appreciation.

Do you enjoy playing lead in a biopic? How soon can we see you in a biopic?

Biopic is the new wave in the bollywood, currently. I’m quite interested in doing a biopic. I will definitely be in seen a biopic but surely not anytime soon.

Do you think Bollywood is overpowered by Hollywood?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, it has already overpowered bollywood movies. Indian Film Association and faculty of the industry should see this as a problem as I alone cannot make any difference in bringing about the change hence, collectively we can find out the solution and accordingly decisions can be made.

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What role does education play in actor’s life?

We all pursue basic level of education which is till HSC. To be Honest, you need not have to carry piles of education degrees while walking in for audition.  Portfolio, sheer acting skills and dedication is all that what an actor should posses.

What are your forthcoming projects?

Well, I have done two movies, one with Zee and the other with T series. The announcement is yet to be made; hopefully it will be announced by next month

If given a chance, will you try your hands in regional cinema?

Yes, why not. I’m looking forward to try my hands in regional films. I am eagerly waiting for a good subject to come my way.

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Written by- Nandini Roy

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