A bright star in the sky of Bollywood dimmed out today with the untimely demise of the veteran actor Irrfan Khan. He brought a modern sensibility to his Bollywood films. An esteemed outlier in Bollywood, he earned popularity for his hammy cinema roles. The much admired actor had a number of awards in his kitty that speak high of his mettle. He made a mark internationally with his acting prowess and established himself as one of the celebrated Indian faces globally. Unanimously listed among the best actors of Indian cinema, Khan has acted in over 50 Indian films in a career span of more than 30 years.
Let’s have a glimpse of his unparalleled contribution to the world of cinema and television.
Born on 7th January, 1967 in Jaipur, India, Irrfan Khan hailed from a Muslim Nawab family. During his M.A. course, he earned a scholarship to study at National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi in 1984. At NSD, he crossed paths with Sutapa Sikdar, with whom he exchanged vows on 23rd February, 1995.
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When Khan moved to Mumbai, he began working in a number of television serials such as Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj, Sara Jahan Hamara, Chandrakanta, Shrikant, AnooGoonj, teleplay – Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode (Doordarshan), Jai Hanuman (DD Metro, later aired on Sony TV), Banegi Apni Baat (Zee TV), Bhanvar (SET India), Darr, Star Bestsellers (Star Plus), and Sparsh.
In addition, he played the role of Makhdoom Mohiuddin, the famous revolutionary Urdu poet and Marxist political activist of India in Indian television series Kahkashan.
Even after his success in Bollywood, he continued his television career. He anchored a show Mano Ya Na Mano (Star One). He hosted another program named Kyaa Kahein which was similar to Mano Ya Na Mano.
Celebrated for his nuanced and understated performances, he made his screen debut with a small role in Salaam Bombay (1988), followed by critically acclaimed drama film Kamla Ki Maut (1989). Thereafter, he began with his struggle to earn name with films like Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990) and Such a Long Journey (1998) and many films that went unnoticed.
His efforts bore fruit and limelight shone on him with starring roles in Bollywood flicks that include Haasil (2003), Road to Ladakh (2003), Maqbool (2004), and Rog (2005). Maqbool was his first milestone when people began appreciating him for his acting prowess. His performance stole the show in Rog as well.
Thereafter, he stepped up on the path of success with The Namesake (2006), Life in a… Metro (2007), Acid Factory (2009), and Paan Singh Tomar (2011).
He bagged more success with his starring roles in The Lunchbox (2013), Gunday (2014), Piku (2015), Talvar (2015), Jazbaa (2015), Qarib Qarib Singlle, Hindi Medium (2017), No Bed of Roses (2017), Karwan (2018), and Blackmail (2018). The comedy-drama Hindi Medium is known to be his highest-grossing Hindi film.
He also made guest appearances in the films The Xpose and Haider (both in 2014), playing an important role in the latter. He also played an antagonist in the Telugu film Sainikudu.
His last released film before his death is Angrezi Medium (2020).
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The protean actor is undoubtedly the most successful export to Hollywood from the Indian cinema. After starring in the British film The Warrior (2001), he tasted success with experimental roles in a plethora of critically acclaimed films such as The Namesake (2006), New York, I Love You (2008), A Mighty Heart (2007), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), the HBO series In Treatment (2008), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Life of Pi (2012), and Jurassic World (2015), Inferno (2016), and Puzzle (2018).
Awards and Accolades
Film critics, contemporaries, and other film experts consider him to be one of the finest actors Indian cinema has ever had. He has bagged numerous awards, including a National Film Award and Filmfare Awards in four categories. Khan has also won three Filmfare Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Independent Spirit Award nomination.
Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honor in India has been bestowed upon him in 2011.
Have a glance at some of his awards:
- Haasil – Filmfare Best Villain Award in 2004
- The Namesake – Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award in 2008
- Metro – Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award in 2008
- Slumdog Millionaire – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance in 2009
- Pan Singh Tomar– Indian National Film Award for Best Actor in 2012
- Piku – Best actor award at Indian Film Festival of Melbourne in 2015
- Talvar – Performer of the Year (Male) in 2016
- Hindi Medium – The Filmfare Award for Best Actor in 2018
With his worldwide success of Hollywood film Jurassic World, Khan has made to the top as the first “Million Dollar Khan” in Bollywood.
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Khan was appointed as the brand ambassador for the campaign “Resurgent Rajasthan”, by the state government of Rajasthan in 2015. Under this campaign, at the Indian army war memorial in Jaipur; a light and sound show was hosted. This show portrayed the valour and courage of Rajasthani soldiers and their heroic triumphs in battle. Khan lent his voice to such a historic event.
Illness and Death
In 2018, Khan was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor – a rare form of cancer that can target various parts of the body. After fighting bravely for two years, he was admitted to Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital yesterday, on 28th April 2020. He was being treated for a colon infection but succumbed to the infection this morning, 29th April 2020. He was laid to rest at the Versova kabrastan in Mumbai this noon.
Just as his famous song from the movie Rog –
“Maine dil se kaha,
Dhoondh lana khushi.
Nasamajh laya gham,
To ye gham hi sahi.”
In the same way, he accepted what he got. He appreciated his good times and when the darkness appeared, he accepted it as well, without complaining.
Truly, the maverick actor has given several versatile performances and has made an actor image that can never be overshadowed. He will also be remembered among the first Indian actors, who made a consistent mark in Western cinema. Despite being known among the most treasured Bollywood actors, Khan was modest. He was a strong soul, who fought till the very end. His sudden departure to the heavenly abode has left the country into mourning. Though he has left the world in real life but he will alive forever through his commendable and unequalled works of reel life.
The void that his death has created in the world of cinema can never be filled. May he rest in eternal peace.