Actor Irrfan Khan has died at the age of 53, after being admitted to Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital on Tuesday, where he was under observation for colon infection. The actor in 2018 had announced that he’d been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor.
Born to Muslim parents in the village of Tonk near Jaipur, Irrfan’s mother had a royal lineage but his father was a self-made man. Eldest of three siblings, Irrfan joined National School of Drama after his father’s death. Ironically, his mother, Saeeda Begum, died a few days before his death.
Mira Nair was the first to spot his talent and cast him in Salaam Bombay in 1988; a part that was chopped at the editor’s table. The two went on to collaborate again in the critically acclaimed The Namesake in 2006 and for the director’s segment in New York, I Love You.
After doing television for years, a period of his career that he described as ‘being stuck’, Irrfan found his big break in Aasif Kapadia’s The Warrior. Irrfan’s career steadily progressed – in India where he went on from playing character roles to headlining films, and then went on to become India’s most celebrated face in the West. He earned steady kudos at home and abroad as a steady actor whose performances were lifelike, dependable.
Danny Boyle called his Slumdog Millionaire performance “beautiful to watch”, while the celebrated critic Roger Ebert noted his ‘subtle, engrossing work’ in The Namesake.
In India, his most famous films include his debut, the Academy Award nominated Salaam Bombay!, Maqbool (2004), Paan Singh Tomar (2011), The Lunchbox (2013), Haider (2014), Gunday (2014), Piku (2015) and Talvar (2015) and Hindi Medium (2017).