29th April, 2020 marks as a black day in the history of Bollywood as the world of cinema lost the talented actor Irfan Khan. Recently admitted to the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai for a colon infection, the actor passed away at the young age of 53 fighting till the very end. He was buried during the day and the final rites took place at a cemetery in Versova. Here’s to the great actor and his remarkable journey. Words fall short when it comes to expressing the gap that his demise leaves behind, however, today we will pray a tribute to his lifelong career and inspiring journey into Bollywood and beyond.
Born into a Muslim family in Rajasthan that hailed from a Pathan ancestry, young Irfan loved playing cricket however could not play at CK Nayudu trophy for under-23 players due to lack of funds. After completing his MA in Jaipur he decided to join the National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi in 1984 and that is where his acting journey began.
Irfan Khan’s acting career spans over 30 years where he worked in Indian, American and British films. After having got his break in the movie Salaam Bombay in 1988, he struggled for quite a long time before gaining his next role in the British movie The Warrior in 2001. From then he started working in mainstream cinema and started gaining due attention for his work. Acting in lead roles in the movies like Lunchbox, Piku and Paan Singh Tomar not only portrayed his prolific cinematic presence but also helped him win the National Film award for The Best Actor. He was awarded with the Padma Shri in 2011, adding to the long list of eminent awards for the great work he had been doing.
Irfan had also gained international acclaim for working on movies like The Amazing Spiderman, Life of Pi, Jurassic World and Inferno. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described Irfan as – a distinguished and charismatic star in Hindi and English language movies whose hardworking career was an enormously valuable bridge between South Asian and Hollywood cinema.
Irfan married Sutapa Sikdar in 1995, a fellow NSD student, and had two sons – Babil and Ayan. In 2012 he changed his name to Irrfan, citing that he liked the sound of additional r in his name, while in 2016 he officially dropped his surname Khan as he did not want his lineage to dictate his work or success.
It was in March 2018 that Mr Khan tweeted about his battle with neuroendocrine cancer from which he recovered and returned to India after gaining treatment in the UK. Post recovery he worked on various films including Karwaan, Blackmail and his final movie Angrezi Medium that released in March, 2020. He died 4 days after the death of his Mother in Jaipur.
His journey serves as a reminder to all those who seek success on their own terms, making their way through the industry and winning hearts and acclaim internationally.
May he finally rest in peace.