Keeping It Real

Photograph for TIME by Olivier Culmann / Tendance Floue

Indian actor Irrfan Khan

On a dirt track under the midday sun, Irrfan Khan waits at the starting line. The 42-year-old actor is playing a poor army recruit from a village in central India who runs just to get the extra ration of food allotted to athletes. At his first race, his character doesn't know what to do when the pistol sounds, so he prays. "You idiot! Run!" the starter screams. That spurs the soldier into action, and the naive confusion on his face turns into determination. Extras from the Bengal Sappers — actual young army recruits who live on the base in...

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