NPR interview: 'Life Of Pi' Star On The 'Duet' Of Acting
BY TERRY GROSS
Khan would eventually study acting at India's National School of Drama, but when he was little, his family didn't allow him to watch films. They came from a feudal background, he tells Fresh Air, and "they had this attitude of looking down upon films, [that films] are not a good influence."
BY TERRY GROSS
You might think that actor Irrfan Khan — the co-star of the special effects-filled film Life of Pi — performed his scenes by himself, or with inanimate objects that would later be transformed via CGI. Not so: As the older Pi in Ang Lee's new adaptation of the best-selling novel, Khan went back to the basics.
He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he thinks of scenes as being like duets: "You strike a note, and somebody responds, and then you respond accordingly," Khan says.
In America, Khan is most popularly known for his role as the police inspector in the Oscar-winning drama Slumdog Millionaire. He's also appeared in the HBO series In Treatment, the film A Mighty Heart and in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited.
At school, though, he was finally able to watch films at a cultural center that was patronized by the government, and it was there that he discovered Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese and Costa-Gavras.
"That suddenly opened my doors and windows," he says, "and that's where my real training started."
Khan knew from an early age that he wanted to be an actor, but he wasn't entirely sure how to make it happen. At 14, a cousin told him that if he wanted to act in television, he should climb up to a transmission tower located at the top of a nearby mountain — that there would be an office there where Khan could get a job.
And that's exactly what he and his cousin did; though when they got to the top of the mountain and found nothing, they quickly forgot about getting work in television and roamed the terrain.
"We had a great time on the mountain," he remembers.