Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan dies at 54 in Mumbai

Mumbai, April 29, 2020: Actor Irrfan Khan who was admitted in Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai yesterday after his condition deteriorated, died today at the age of 54. He has been suffering from a serious disease called neuroendocrine tumour.

Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar tweeted, “My dear friend Irfaan. You fought and fought and fought. I will always be proud of you.. we shall meet again.. condolences to Sutapa and Babil.. you too fought, Sutapa you gave everything possible in this fight. Peace and Om shanti. Irfaan Khan salute.”

Irrfan Khan, also credited as simply Irrfan, was an Indian film actor, known for his work predominantly in Hindi cinema, as well as his works in British films and Hollywood. In a film career spanning almost thirty years and featuring in more than fifty domestic films, Khan has received numerous awards, including a National Film Award and Filmfare Awards in four categories. Film critics, contemporaries and other experts consider him to be one of the finest actors in Indian cinema for his versatile and natural acting. In 2011, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour for his contribution to the field of arts.

Irrfan was born in Jaipur, Rajasthan, to a Muslim Pashtun family. Khan’s mother, Begum Khan, was from the Tonk Hakim family and his father, the late Jagirdar Khan, was from the Khajuriya village near the Tonk district, and ran a tire business. Irrfan and his best friend Satish Sharma were good at cricket, later Irrfan been selected for the CK Nayudu Tournament (for emerging players under 23 years, a stepping stone to First Class cricket). He did not turn up for the tournament owing to lack of funds. Khan was studying for his MA degree when he earned a scholarship to study at National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi in 1984.

Khan moved to Mumbai, where he acted in numerous television serials, including Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj, Sara Jahan Hamara, Banegi Apni Baat, Chandrakanta, Shrikant (Doordarshan), AnooGoonj on Doordarshan, Star Bestsellers (Star Plus), and Sparsh. Earlier, he had acted in a teleplay on Doordarshan named Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode where he played Lenin. It was based on a translation by Uday Prakash of a Russian play by Mikhail Shatrov. He was the main villain in a series called Darr (which aired on Star Plus), where he played the role of a psycho serial killer, opposite Kay Kay Menon. He also played the role of famous revolutionary Urdu poet and Marxist political activist of India Makhdoom Mohiuddin in Kahkashan, produced by Ali Sardar Jafri. He acted in some of the episodes of Star Bestsellers (aired on Star-Plus). In one of the episodes (“Ek Sham Ki Mulakat”), his role was of a parchoon shopkeeper who has a misconception that his landlord’s wife is trying to seduce him and it turns out that his own wife (Tisca Chopra) is cheating on him. In the other one, he played the role of an office accountant who, after being insulted by his female boss, took revenge. He also appeared in a serial called Bhanvar (aired on SET India) for two episodes. In one episode, he performed the role of a thug who somehow lands in court. Theatre and television kept him afloat until Mira Nair offered him a cameo in Salaam Bombay! (1988) though his role was edited out in the final film.

In the 1990s, he appeared in the critically acclaimed films Ek Doctor Ki Maut and Such a Long Journey (1998) and various other films which went unnoticed. In 1998, Khan played role of “Rantnakar” the Bandit, aka “Valmiki” who was BANDIT and turned into the well known Monk / Poet who wrote “The Ramayana” in Sanjay Khan’s serial “Jay Hanuman”. After many unsuccessful films, things changed when London-based director Asif Kapadia gave him the lead in The Warrior, a historical film completed in 11 weeks on location in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. In 2001 The Warrior opened in international film festivals, making Khan a known face.

Domestically, he made his screen debut with the Academy Award-nominated film Salaam Bombay! (1988). Followed by a series of roles in films that failed to propel his career forward, he received critical acclaim for playing negative roles in the drama films Haasil (2003) and Maqbool (2004), for the former he won the Filmfare Award for Best Villain. The successful drama Life in a… Metro (2007) marked a turning point in Khan’s career, earning him praise and several awards including the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. He rose to prominence with his portrayal of Paan Singh Tomar in the acclaimed biographical sports drama Paan Singh Tomar (2011), which garnered him the National Film Award for Best Actor and a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor. His performance in the BAFTA Award-nominated romance The Lunchbox (2013) earned him universal acclaim by the critics and audiences. Khan went on to feature in the commercially and critically successful films Haider (2014), Gunday (2014), Piku (2015) and Talvar (2015). His highest-grossing Hindi release came with the critically acclaimed comedy-drama Hindi Medium (2017), which became a sleeper hit in India and China, which ranks among highest-grossing Indian films of all time and earned him praise for his performance, winning several awards including the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.

Globally, Khan has worked in several international projects such as The Warrior (2001), The Namesake (2006), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), New York, I Love You (2009), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Life of Pi (2012), Jurassic World (2015) and Inferno (2016). As of 2017, his films have grossed $3.643 billion at the worldwide box office. In 2018, Khan was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor.

On 23 February 1995, Khan married writer and fellow NSD graduate Sutapa Sikdar. They have two sons, Babil and Ayan.