Renowned actor Irrfan (Khan) who was admitted to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai in critical condition a day ago, passed away on Wednesday, 29 April 2020. The actor was under observation for colon infection. He was 53 and is survived by his wife Sutapa Sikdar, and sons Babil and Ayan.
In February 2018, Khan was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour – a rare form of cancer that can target various parts of the body for which he was treated in London. Unfortunately, his heroic battle against the disease came to an end four days after his mother’s death in Jaipur, whose funeral he could not attend due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Irrfan was known for his nuanced portrayal of characters and ability to pick powerful scripts. He did a lot of unconventional films in his career, while striking a great balance with mainstream films in India as well as Hollywood. In 2012, he had changed the spelling of his name from ‘Irfan Khan’ to ‘Irrfan’ and has said he likes the sound of the extra ‘r’ in his name.
After an on-and-off career in television and a few unsuccessful films, things changed for Irrfan in 2001 with a historical festival circuit film The Warrior. In 2003, Hindi films Haasil (for which he won the Filmfare Best Villain Award) and Maqbool (an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth) established Irrfan as a special actor with rare intensity. Thereafter, he acted in several films playing lead as well as supporting and antagonistic characters.
Irrfan became a very popular Hindi film actor known for his exceptional performances in films like Rog, Paan Singh Tomar, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, Talvar, Haider, Hindi Medium and Piku, among others. He was also widely recognized across international film festivals due to films like The Bypass (short), Road To Laddakh (short), The Lunchbox, The Namesake and Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost. Irrfan went on to carve a niche for himself even in Hollywood with films like Slumdog Millionaire, Inferno, Jurrasic World and Life of Pi. In 2011, Irrfan was awarded the Padma Shri – India’s fourth highest civilian honour, for his contribution to the field of arts. In 2013, he earned the National Film Award for Best Actor for the sports-drama film Paan Singh Tomar. Irrfan’s last film was English Medium, which released in 2020.
The Indian film fraternity has come out to pay tribute to the versatile actor on social media, including actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Kamal Hassan. We at the Screenwriters Association are also deeply saddened by the demise of Irrfan and express our heartfelt grief as we pray for his soul to rest in peace.