Reminiscing the NYC days with Irrfan – An Actor par excellence!! ; Jay Patel

New Delhi (India), April 28: “From paychecks to passion, from fancy restaurants to boutique bookstores, from costing conversations to casting roles, from planned trips to random strolls, I feel blessed that I was introduced to the life of an Artist through the most humble eyes of yours Irrfan.”

Irrfan, I still remember how poles apart our lives and world were when Tishu (Tigmanshu Dhulia) introduced us! You belonged to the world of arts while I came from the world of business, and yet, we shared this beautiful bond of friendship that made me realize that we were more alike than different. While the bond that you and Tishu shared was unparalleled, I enjoyed being the third wheel and our friendship, our conversations, and our minds brought to life. Some lifelong memories that I would take to my grave.

Through daily visits to small cafes; boutique bookstores; quirky art stores, and unique speciality stores, I got to explore New York from the perspective of an artistic explorer. It made me realize that you craved the unseen, and you always took the unexplored path instead of exploring the tried and tested fancy clubs and lounges, fine dining and winning that the city had to offer.

I still remember how you picked up a random book, opened the book to the middle and then read a page out loud. After reading it you asked if I could create the start and end of the story in the book. I marvelled at how your mind functioned. Even today, when I think of art, I remember your definition, which said, “Art is all about picking a random start and allowing your imagination to run wild and free and create our own stories.”

I loved how we used to hang out at the stairs of church 51st and 5th Ave and created our own stories and scenes from thin air and gossip of casting strangers like, “dekh wo amir khan aa raha hey”, “Tom cruise ke hath me chhaata ”, “gangstar walk mai sanjay dutt cha lraha hey, “some hairy guy bole to gora anil kapoor”. You made me believe that life lies in small moments.

One of the lesser-known facts about Irrfan was his love for sports. We always planned trips to watch FIFA together, and in 2014 when he had to cancel our trip to watch the FIFA world cup in Brazil due to his work, Irrfan called me while I was in the stadium with my buddies Deepak Mewada and Tom Ryan asked me to get the “Brazil team ka yellow waala jacket”. Oh Irrfan how I wish we could once again cheer our hearts out and laugh till it hurt while wearing those Yellow Jackets!

I remember you choose art over brands. We share our vulnerability of hating confined areas and loving open skies. Irrfan, I wish I could once again hear you say, “I never act; I am that character! And as soon as I am out of character, I step into my world of Art.” Oh Irrfan, how I wish I could meet you once again, a man of few words but whose eyes spoke volumes. I will always remember the lessons that you have taught me. We discussed freedom that comes without barriers and schedules that seem like punishments.

You showed me through your perspective; how the whole world is just a big theatrical event and the 8 billion people of this world are all Artists in their own individual way. That we have to play our roles according to our skills, our labels and our upbringing. You made me realize that the performers and the watchers in a circus are all part of the same circus. You showed me the beauty of imagination. You and Tishu made me realize my passion for Arts, Music, and culture and for this, I will always be thankful to you.

I sit under the open skies every time I sip from a cup of your hot favourite Turkish tea and every time I take a walk in NYC restaurants, the BMW (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg bridges), and our bookstore at Soho! Photographs were taken from you. I would resemble you in every artist I see, and I will miss you every time I meet Tishu!

God Bless your family! Babil & Ayan are just your reflections, and it’s commendable how Sutapaji is holding it up altogether so bravely.

Irrfan, I hope you are discovering the wonders of heaven by taking strolls at its beautiful bridges while you will live through the hearts of millions like me on Earth! Till we meet again and continue our walks, our talks and our laughs while strolling the bridges in the skies…

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