Padma Shri Award winner, Mr. Irrfaan Khan, the best and most versatile actor for numerous national and foreign films, died on April 29, 2020. Actor Irrfan Khan died in a hospital in Mumbai losing his battle with a rare type of cancer, his representative said in a statement. He was 54 years old. He was a strong man, someone who fought till the very end and inspired everyone who came near him. Having been hit with the news of a rare cancer by lightning in 2018, he took life shortly after when it came and battled the many wars that came with it.

He was an Indian film actor, known for his work primarily in Hindi cinema, as well as his work in British films and Hollywood. He had won numerous awards, including a National Film Award and Filmfare Awards in four categories, in a film career spanning nearly thirty years and starring in more than fifty domestic films.

Early Life

He was born into a Muslim family, in Rajasthan, India. Irrfan’s mother, Begum Khan, was from the Tonk Hakim family, and his father, the late Jagirdar Khan, was from the village of Khajuriya near the Tonk district, running a tire company. Irrfan was fantastic at cricket, and his best friend Satish Sharma, later he was picked for the CK Nayudu Tournament (a first-class cricket for young players under 23 years of age). Due to lack of money, he did not show up for the tournament.

He studied for his MA degree when, in 1984, he was awarded a scholarship to study at New Delhi’s National School of Drama (NSD).


Career

He moved to Mumbai where he appeared in various TV series including Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj, Sara Jahan Hamara, Banegi Apni Baat, Chandrakanta, Shrikant (Doordarshan), AnooGoonj on Doordarshan, Star Bestsellers (Star Plus), and Sparsh. He had previously appeared on a Doordarshan teleplay named Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode where he played Lenin. It was based upon Uday Prakash translation of Mikhail Shatrov’s Russian script. He was the lead villain in a series called Darr (aired on Star Plus), where he played the part of a psycho-serial killer, opposite to Kay Kay Menon. He also played the role of India’s popular revolutionary Urdu poet and marxist political activist Makhdoom Mohiuddin, produced by Ali Sardar Jafri, in Kahkashan. He has appeared in some of Star Bestsellers’ episodes (aired on Star-Plus). His role was in one of the episodes (“Ek Sham Ki Mulakat”) of a parchoon shopkeeper who has a misunderstanding that his landlord’s wife is trying to seduce him, and it turns out that his own wife (Tisca Chopra) is cheating him. In the other, he was playing the part of an accountant in the workplace, who took revenge after being humiliated by his female boss. He has also appeared for two episodes in a serial called Bhanvar (aired on SET India). He played the role of a thug in one episode which somehow landed in court. Theatre and television kept him alive until Mira Nair in Salaam Bombay gave him a cameo! (1988) whilst his position was edited out in the final film. He later starred in Basu Chatterjee’s critically acclaimed drama film Kamla Ki Maut (1989) opposite Roopa Ganguly. 

He starred in the 1990s in the critically acclaimed movies Ek Doctor Ki Maut and Such a Long Journey (1998) as well as numerous other overlooked films. He played the role of “Rantnakar” the Bandit in 1998, aka “Valmiki” who was BANDIT and became the well-known Monk / Poet who wrote “The Ramayana” in the serial “Jay Hanuman” by Sanjay Khan. Things changed after several unsuccessful films when London-based director Asif Kapadia gave him the lead in The Warrior, a historic film that was completed in 11 weeks on location in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Warrior opened in international film festivals in 2001 and made “Khan” a known name. 

irrfan khan collage

He acted in the short film Ashvin Kumar, Path to Ladakh, in 2003–2004. Following the film received rave reviews at international festivals, the film was turned into a full-length movie with him starring. The same year he was playing the title role in the critically acclaimed Maqbool, a Shakespeare’s Macbeth adaptation.

 His first lead role in Bollywood came with film Rog in 2005. His performance was lauded by critics; one wrote, “Irfaan’s eyes speak louder than his words and every time he’s in the picture, whether talking to his buddy Manish or arguing with Suhel, he’s showing his talent as an actor.”Afterwards, he appeared in several films either playing a leading role or playing a supporting role as villain. For his appearance in Haasil film he received the Filmfare Best Villain Award in 2004. Critics lauded his performance in Haasil, saying “as the bold, brash, fearless goon who is mind-blowing. He’s very scary and makes you sit up and wonder what he’s going to do next.” He has also played an antagonist in Sainikudu, a Telugu film.

He starred in the box office hits Metro in 2007, for which he was given a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award, and The Namesake. One of the highlights of multi-star movie was his chemistry with Konkana Sen in Metro. His presence in the foreign movies A Mighty Heart and The Darjeeling Limited were closely followed.

He has continued his television career, even after his success at Bollywood. He has anchored Mano Ya Na Mano series (airing on Star One). He hosted another show, which was similar to Mano Ya Na Mano, called Kyaa Kahein.

In 2008, he was featured as a narrator in the production of the Arts Alliance, id-Identity of the Soul. The show was toured around the world, with tens of thousands coming out to watch the action as it traveled the West Coast. He also plays the police inspector in the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, for which he and the film’s ensemble received an Ensemble in a Mo Screen Actors Guild Award for Excellent Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. 

He starred in the movie Acid Factory in 2009. He said he wants to make more action films in the future. He has also appeared in New York as an FBI agent and in New York as a Gujarati diamond merchant, I Love You. His film about real-life athlete turned dacoit, Paan Singh Tomar, received critics’ highly favourable reviews.

He worked on the third season of the HBO series In Therapy in 2010, enacting Sunil’s part, which finds it hard to cope with the death and depression of his wife after moving to New York.

In 2012, Irrfan played Dr. Rajit Ratha in The Amazing Spider-Man. In Ang Lee’s film adaptation of Life of Pi, Khan played the adult version of Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel, which has been a critical and commercial success worldwide. He starred in The Lunchbox in 2013, winning the Grand Rail d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and earning a BAFTA nomination, and up to then became his highest-grossing Hindi film.

He starred in Gunday in 2014, which was a modest success in the box offices. He also made guest appearances in The Xpose and Haider movies, and played a significant role in the latter. In 2015, alongside Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan he played the leading role in the film Piku. He co-starred Jurassic World in the 2015 film.

The same year he also appeared in the acclaimed Talvar thriller in which he was praised for his performance. He starred alongside Aishwarya Rai in Jazbaa in October 2015 which was very well received by critics. He was next seen in the 2016 adaptation of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon thriller Inferno alongside Tom Hanks.

Irrfan starred in two films in the year 2017: Hindi Medium and Qarib Qarib Singlle. The former was good financially and critically while the latter was average grosser. Irrfan’s performance of Raj Batra in Hindi Medium earned him many honours, one of which was that year’s Filmfare Award for Best Actor. Hindi Medium was a sleeper success in India and China, becoming its largest Hindi debut, beyond The Lunchbox. As of 2017, his films were at the worldwide box office grossing US$ 3,643 billion.

He appeared in Karwan in 2018 alongside Dulquer Salmaan, Mithila Palkar and Kriti Kharbanda. The movie was released June 1st, 2018. During the same year he also appeared opposite Kirti Kulhari during Blackmail. He has also made a promise to work in Hindi Medium 2. Homi Adajania, who directed Cocktail and Finding Fanny, will direct it.


Others

He was named brand ambassador in September 2015 for “Resurgent Rajasthan,” a campaign by the Rajasthan state government. He lent his voice to the light and sound display at the Indian Army War Memorial on Vidhan Sabha Road, Jaipur. This series portrays the bravery and courage of the Rajasthani soldiers in combat and their historic and contemporary triumphs.


Personal Life

He married author and fellow NSD graduate Sutapa Sikdar on 23 February 1995. They had two sons, Babil and Ayan.


Illness

He revealed in a Twitter post on 16 March 2018 that he was suffering from a neuroendocrine tumour. He flew for treatment to London. 

Irrfan Khan was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour in March 2018, a rare type of cancer that can affect various parts of the body. On 28 April 2020 he was admitted to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai, where he was being treated for colon infection. He died of the infection the next day, at the age of 53