Irrfan Khan's movie How to learn to sing the song of life is explained in The Song of Scorpions. -
Irrfan Khan's movie How to learn to sing the song of life is explained in The Song of Scorpions.
Posted 28 Apr 2023 01:30 PM



The Song of Scorpions, directed by Anup Singh, has had a rocky road to release, at least in India, much like its star actor, the late Irrfan Khan. Anup Singh, the film's well-known director, discusses why it took so long for the 2017 movie to reach an audience in India today, a day before the third anniversary of Irrfan's passing (April 29), as the movie premieres in theatres. He is similarly outspoken on Irrfan, an actor and close friend who he knew personally. While back in time when the film opened at Locarno Film Festival and did the festival circuit winning critical acclaim and awards, somehow distributors in India thought Indian audiences were not ready for it. Just a week before Irrfan’s passing away, distributors showed interest but then Covid struck home. If you think 2017 film in 2023 might not evoke the same passion with which Irrfan must have enacted his part, Anup begs to differ. “It’s very much a film of today’s times, at a point in history when we can’t control what we are breathing, which is violence and pollution, we can certainly ensure what we breathe out is not toxic. We must sing the song of life. Hence, the title, The Song of Scorpions.” With beautiful Iranian and French actress Golshifteh Farahani as Nooran at the centre of the narrative, Anup is positive the film will entrance viewers completely. Of course, the real reason for watching the film is still Irrfan, the actor who Anup says “might play tragic, comic or a dark part but there is nothing generic about it. One of the few actors of our times who changes the definition of what it is to act yet can’t be defined or clubbed in any category. Though he plays a very dark character in the film yet the quality of life, of joy and passion, almost like ishq, is immanent. If directing Irrfan has been a perennial source of joy for Anup, watching him in his last fresh performance on Indian screens can’t be any less for viewers. Only Anup does not want them to apply the barometer of critical assessment to the film or Irrfan right now. “Watch it like homage to the actor.” That is not to say that the actor, who never stopped surprising Anup, will once again not sweep us off our feet. Or, we will not see another shade of an actor whose minutest gestures, expressions are a revelation. An actor of immense possibilities whom Anup defines as “one who had no limits”, he further shares what made him exceptional, “Irrfan would come to you not as Irrfan but as a person full of doubts, questions and immensely open to you and to the script.” Anup also lets us into Irrfan’s creative process, “During shooting, Irrfan would never be found in his vanity van but always outdoors. When we shot The Song of Scorpions, and if Irrfan had arrived few days before the shoot, he would scout all the shooting locations in the desert on his own. No wonder when he came on the sets it was almost as if he belonged to the terrain.” Indeed, working with an actor of such immense calibre can only spoil a director. Thus the three scripts that Anup wrote with Irrfan in mind, today stand as closed chapter. One day he might find the courage to put them all in book form but never on screen with another actor for, “They are Irrfan’s films.” Yes, soon he might come to India and work once again with wonderful actors like Tillotama Shome, Rasika Dugal and Shashank Arora who have already been part of his films.
And what about working with Irrfan’s son Babil Khan? “Not right away, only when I see in him that expression, that one gesture which does not remind me of Irrfan but one that would have made Irrfan very happy. I am waiting for that moment.” Till then he is soaking in the memory of Irrfan, this time with more anand than maatam and his many life lessons, the most important being, “you are never complete, you are always in a journey.” Thus forever open to what his friend taught him, Anup too is always encouraged ‘to do more.’ Embracing everything Indian
Anup Singh, who resides in Switzerland, is nevertheless deeply entrenched in India. He owes a debt of appreciation to FTII, Pune, where he received his degree, for this. If the late Ritwik Ghatak's impact on him and his filmmaking could be felt on campus, then Anup learned a lot from his pupils as well as his direct professors, Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani, among others. "They would advise me to move into the locales while we were shooting films together. As a result, I had a deep, direct contact with India, and it became like breathing to me.

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