Oct 6, 2013 You may think of him as a serious man. His most famous roles have either saddened us or taken us to dark, complex places. But his smile is disarming. Irrfan Khan is everything that he does not play on screen. Maybe that’s why he keeps emphasising on lighter, romantic roles. With his recent release, ‘The Lunchbox’, running to packed houses, Khan lets us peek into a side of him that he keeps mostly to himself. People think you’re as serious as the roles you play. But you seem to be a happy person… I am a happy person. I love to laugh. I have always been mischievous and have never taken myself too seriously. You are a sports enthusiast… I am crazy about sports. At school, I was one of the back benchers who’d wait for the bell to ring and run away as soon as the class was over. If a cricket match was on, my friends and I would never pay attention to what the teacher was saying, and listen to the commentary. We’d imagine the moves of the cricketer by drawing sketches of their positions on a piece of paper to get the exact idea of how one got bowled or got a wicket. Did you think of taking it up as a career? I did. But I realised that to become a sportstar, you need a family that understands that sports can be a career. My zamidar family believed ‘khel-kud karna kaunsi badi baat hai’.They weren’t supportive of me becoming an actor either, but I ended up convincing them. Does your work affect your personal life? If your work doesn’t affect you as a person, you’re not in the right job. My role in a film should be able to raise questions that I, as a person, find difficult to answer. It has to enhance my personality. I took up acting because I thought it would give me a mystical experience. What’s the point of acting if all it does is make you famous? Your wife ( Sutapa Sikdar) is a film writer. Do you bond over films? My wife and I often discuss films. She has opinions about my work and can point out flaws that I may never notice. Sometimes she does give unnecessary tips, but most of the times, she is right. What’s the key to a successful marriage? For two people to share a great bond after marriage, it is very essential to give space to one another. In the beginning, the issue of space won’t seem that important because you haven’t had enough of one another. But after a point, you will understand that human beings aren’t wired to spend their entire life with one person. But the kind of society we live in opposes this thought. If you ask me, I would respect a marriage where the man and woman have the freedom to sleep with anyone. There is no bondage. That’s pretty bold stuff… Is it? Why do you get married? Because society says the only way you can be physically close to someone is through marriage. You can’t call that love. It’s society’s need that is fulfilled here, not the soul’s calling. I think a sanctified marriage is when you have an option to sleep with 10 people, but you are still choosing that one person to live with. Do your kids miss you when you are away shooting? When I was shooting for The Namesake, my younger son, Ayaan (10), was just a year old. I was away from home for a very long time. He would watch my film, The Killer, again and again and would keep listening to the songs of the film all day because he missed me. That affected me deeply. I realised that childhood doesn’t last forever. If you miss seeing your child grow up, you miss out on the most important thing in life. When you are away, you are the one losing out on experiencing your kids’ childhood. After The Namesake, for any long-duration shoot somewhere far off, I made sure I came back for a break. Or I took my family along with me.