I write this piece 365 days after I heard, 29th April, 2021. The emotions are back, minus the shock and bewilderment. A sense of acceptance and happiness fills those spaces now. Happiness, because even though the person is no more, his magic is still there and will always be accessible. Grief, I believe, still holds its place firmly. Irrfan, through any role that I witnessed, painted an idea of my quintessential partner. Yogi's sass and quirkiness, Maqbool's intensity or the gentleness and subtlety that Ashoke invoked: it felt as though every character had a piece and in every new film, I would come across a new one. Then somehow, at one point in the future, all the pieces would complete the idea of my perfect partner. Hence, the concept of Irrfan for me was somehow unending and constant. Every performance of his touched me, but it was Rana Chaudhary, in Piku, who truly has a place in my heart and on my vision board.
A few days ago, I created my first-ever vision board. A vision board is basically a visual representation of your goals to remind and motivate you to work on them. As an unemployed 24-year-old, who is still figuring life out, specificity regarding goals was a stretch. While every aspect of my life had a question mark, only one had a period: Rana Chaudhary. It was the only thing I knew I wanted and it felt like I had always known.
When I first watched Piku, I thought it was a little overrated. A few years later, while randomly flipping through channels, I stumbled upon it again. Surprisingly, I chose to watch it. My opinion didn't change much, but I remember feeling somewhat fulfilled. Coincidently, in the same week, it aired again. I still wanted to watch it and still didn't know why. Then I came across the scene where Bhaskor blames Rana for not choosing a better treatment course for his father. There is a moment when Rana stops speaking and he just stares at Bhaskar, speechless. His face articulated everything he felt. For the first time in the entire movie, he was vulnerable. And that was it. I knew that the reason I watched the movie over and over again was for Irrfan. It was everything; the way his face expressed far more than his words, the frustration he felt when Bhaskor realises he forgot his hearing aid, the scene where he talks about how women in Saudi fight for their rights, even when he reluctantly looks at how Bhaskor exercises in the middle of the highway. Every scene, every expression and every dialogue is so wholesome that it still gives me joy. Rana, who abides by what is right, calls out the bull'shit', doesn't shy away from a 'shitty' conversation and at times is equally overwhelmed and unguarded, is beautiful. His life resembles a glorious mess, but it is the way he exists regardless of it, that draws me towards him even now.
From a gender perspective, I initially included Rana as a romantic aspiration on my vision board, but I know his impact runs deeper than that. I aspire to have a Rana as my friend; I'd probably even settle for an acquaintance. I do not limit Rana to a lover: it is the comfort that he exudes that makes him important to me. It is the ease that he provides that makes me want to roam on the streets of Kolkata with him. While I write this article, I understand that I want these characteristics in myself too. And it seems possible, which is why I adore him. He is relatable, aspirational and attainable; hence, his place on the vision board.