Irrfan Khan on his illness, journey to health


Multi-faceted Indian actor Irrfan Khan not only has a thriving Bollywood career, he also has a pretty impressive Hollywood one as well.  The star has worked with a range of filmmakers from Mira Nair to Wes Anderson and Ang Lee and stealing scenes in both Oscar-winners (Slumdog Millionaire) and blockbusters (Jurassic World) alike. But his soaring career has been paused for the time being as Khan has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, neuroendocrine tumour to be precise, for which he is undergoing treatment in London.

Khan may be on a short break for now, but his films are not. His recent Bollywood movie Karwaan is all set to hit the cinemas this coming Friday, while his American film, Puzzle, a poignant character drama is expanding to 11 cities this weekend.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Khan reveals how he found ways to look at things that are more powerful, productive and healthier. Khan says his illness has given him a whole new perspective of life.

“I’ve seen life from a completely different angle. You sit down and you see the other side and that’s fascinating. I’m engaged on a journey,” says the 51-year-old actor.

Speaking on his condition, its challenges and technicalities, Irrfan said, “There are challenges which life throws at you. But I have started believing in the way this condition has tested me, really, really tested me in all aspects — physical, emotional and spiritual…But slowly, there is another way to look at things that is much more powerful and much more productive and much more healthy and I just want people to believe that nature is much more trustworthy and one must trust that.”

“The problem with me initially was everyone was speculating on whether I would be out of this disease or not. Because it’s not in my hand. That’s nature that will do whatever it has to do. What is in my hand, I could take care of that. I would have never reached that state even if I had done meditation for 30 years. But this sudden jolt has put me into a platform where I could look at things in a completely different manner,” added the actor.

Currently, in his fourth cycle of chemotherapy, Khan on his treatment in London says, “I have had the fourth cycle of chemo. And I have to have six cycles and then we need to have a scan. After the third cycle, the scan was positive. But we need to see after the sixth scan. And then we’ll see where it takes me. There’s no guarantee of life with anybody. My mind could always tell me to hang a kind of chip on your neck and say, ‘I have this disease and I could die in a few months or a year or two.’ Or I could just avoid this conversation completely and live my life the way it offers me. And it offers so much.”

On his future projects and his return to films, Irrfan shared that he is currently not looking at any scripts and he’s just enjoying life as it comes.

“I’m completely out of reading scripts,” he says. “My days are unpredictable. I used to think my life would be like that, but I could never practice unpredictability and spontaneity. That has happened now…I take things as they come. And I’m loving this experience.”

“There was something missing in my life previously, And I think I was missing this spontaneity…life is so mysterious and has so much to offer, we don’t really try things. And I’m trying and I’m loving it. I’m in a really fortunate state,” he concluded.