Irrfan Khan opens up about his latest Hollywood encounter

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At an event, Tom Hanks when quizzed on his Inferno co-star quipped, "Here's what I hate about Irrfan Khan... I always think I'm the coolest guy in the room, and everybody's hanging on to every word I say, and everybody's a little intimidated to be in my presence.And then Irrfan Khan walks into the room. And he's the coolest guy in the room." And our desi hero retorted, tongue-in-cheek, "Tom gets the `cool' quotient right, that's why he could say this. And by saying it, he's become the coolest actor in the world."

Irrfan's always been a fan of the Forrest Gump, The Terminal and Sully actor but after working with him on this screen adaptation of Dan Brown's 2013 novel, now loves him as a human being too. "Tom's charming, inspiring and carries a warm heart. He's the most generous actor I've met with an energy which makes everyone around him comfortable. It was a great experience working with someone who is so secure of himself as an actor," he raved.

Tom and his Oscar-winning director, Ron Howard, go back to 1989 and the comic thriller The 'Burbs while Inferno is only Irrfan's first film with them. Yet going by the camaraderie the trio share, it seems they've known each other all their lives. He attributes this to 'innocent kid' Ron who carries his excitement to the sets and makes everyone feel a part of the collaboration. "He got everyone together a month before the shoot began and as we chatted new ties were forged. It was like Tom and Ron owned this house which we entered as guests. They welcomed us warmly and while enjoying their hospitality, we began to feel we owned the house too," he marvelled.

Irrfan has a rival at home now in his 18-year-old son who accompanied Irrfan on the Budapest schedule and to Singapore and the dude in a hat had Tom confessing that Irrfan is cool but his son is cooler. Does Babil want to be an actor too? "That's for him to decide, we don't discuss such things.Babil has a mind of his own and the freedom to choose what he wants to do," he said. Inferno, a sequel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, touches upon the threat of a biological plague created by a brilliant geneticist and Dante fanatic to cause sterility in one-third of humans thereby reducing the world's population, citing the Doomsday Argument. Irrfan who read the novel when he was offered the film liked the fact that it juxtaposed a serious concern for our planet against a historical mystery thriller, making it central to the plot."The way the human race is multiplying is alarming and that we are not even aware of it bothers me even more. Ron's tried to make the complicated book simpler for audience," he revealed, pointing out that one of the film's posters underlines that Inferno is not just a movie but a prophecy. "Even million dollar Hollywood franchises, reflect what is happening in the world and addresses scenarios which could become a nightmare for humanity."

The film has opened to mixed reviews with the Guardian panning it (Say hello to the 10th circle of hell, their headline reads) and the Hollywood Reporter more generous (It's moderately evolved fast food, more culturally nutritious than many other action films, but still highly calorific and packed wit tasty trans fats). Irrfan who reads reviews sometimes believes it's one of best films in the Robert Langdom series with a great buzz around the world.He's come a long way since Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay, how does he feel when he looks back on his journey? "I seldom look back, maybe when I retire... Every industry tries to stereotype you, the challenge for an actor is to chart his own path choosing with roles that excite him and is a surprise for audience too," reasoned Irrfan who chose to play Harry `Provost' Sims who heads a Consortium because the job was so unique it was hard to research and that made the character intriguing.

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