The one role that Irrfan craved to play was that of poet-thinker-reformist Sahir Ludhianvi. When he heard that Sanjay Leela Bhansali was producing the Sahir bio-pic with another actor (Abhishek Bachchan) he had expressed in an interaction, “Only I can play Sahir. I know him and his poetry better than anyone else. Do you know, before him, romantic songs were written in a particular way. Then this man came along and completely changed the idiom and style of romantic expression. He wrote, maine tumse hi nahin sabse mohabbat ki hai, for a film called Didi. Sahir wrote poetry that expressed the hope and aspirations of the generation that came after Independence. Now we’ve accepted the defeat of that hope. The biggest defeat is our acceptance of the foreign model of existence.”
When one would share with Irrfan the lesser known songs written by Sahir and he would reply, “Achcha, yeh bhi unhone likha hai!”
Sanjay Leela Bhansali was enthused by the idea of Irrfan playing Sahir. But he was committed to Abhishek for the project from the start, and there was no way he was going to wriggle out of the commitment.
When fate dealt a cruel blow to Irrfan it also seemed to have taken a swipe at the Sahir project. Nearly three years after Irrfan’s death, Sahir shows no signs of taking off. For all practical purposes, it is a shelved project.