Irrfan Khan in Paan Singh Tomar Image Credit: Supplied

As Irrfan Khan-starrer Paan Singh Tomar continues to create ripples at the box-office, its lead actor says that it's the audience that has gone the extra mile. The film is based on a true story of a steeplechase champion who turns to banditry in Chambal Valley.

"Yes, it's a classic case of word-of-mouth publicity doing the trick. The viewers reached out to us," said Khan in an interview with tabloid!. Spurred by the positive reviews in India, this film about a rebel will hit the UAE theatres today. The international distribution deal was done by local distributors on the basis of the robust ticket sales in India two weeks ago.

"The audiences now are demanding certain kind of films rather than just typical masala entertainers. The more they are willing to accept, the more we try to feed them — there is no question of being uniform or one-dimensional in their tastes now," said Khan.

Need proof? A special screening was held in New Delhi for Ambika Soni, India's information and broadcasting minister. Also, the film also opened to good reviews in 2010 when it premiered at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. But was the long wait frustrating?

"Certain films will want this kind of wait and gestation period. But the wait didn't hinder the film. And I have always believed that whatever happens, it happens for the good."

The 49-year-old actor, who is one of the few India's stars to have made an effortless transition to Hollywood, with films such as A Mighty Heart and Slumdog Millionaire, adds that his film's success is the biggest testimony to his beliefs. But it's not just the reviews that have pushed him forward.

"My expectations were not about the reviews or my performance per se — my expectations revolved around whether the film connected with the audience, everything else is a by-product. So that was my concern — but the kind of response I got went beyond my expectations. As an artist I am always curious to know how I can give back to the audience," said Khan, who will be seen in the hit Hollywood franchise Spider-Man soon.

"I have also signed on a European film. I do four films a year — a mix of Hollywood and Bollywood. So far it has worked for me."