Irrfan Khan, a powerhouse of incredible acting talent, passed away in a Mumbai hospital in the early hours of Wednesday, the 29th of April, 2020 leaving a vacuum in the Hindi film industry, a loss irreparable. He was only 53, and had so much to offer to the film lovers yet. There was disturbing news circulating in 2018 about Irrfan contracting a serious disease which, after months of distressed speculation, was confirmed as neuroendocrine tumor, one of the rarest forms of cancer. Since then he was fighting, fighting and fighting. He got treatment in the US and then in London for months. He returned to India a few months back, and could not take part in the promotion of his last movie, Angrezi (English) Medium, and the movie too could not be released due to the nation-wide lockdown. More saddening, he lost his mother only a few days back and could not attend her last rites in Jaipur, again due to the lockdown. Irrfan’s demise is a huge tragedy to strike when the country is reeling under Coronavirus and lockdown.
The highlight of his 32-year career in the film industry was the incredibly varied roles and characters he played in Bollywood movies, and also in Hollywood and British productions. Keeping in mind the versatility of his acting prowess roles were written for him that can be compared only to that of Amitabh Bachchan in the latter’s post-2000 career; the ultimate crowning glory for an actor. And most importantly, Irrfan Khan was never a modern hero of Bollywood in terms of the desired attributes: handsome, tall, powerfully built with preferably body-building obsession, fighting and dancing abilities and so on. He never danced around the trees chasing the heroines. And yet, he played hero, protagonists in numerous movies-both mainstream and commercial, endearing himself to all types of moviegoers of the country. He did every kind of role, living the characters, with his typical matter-of-fact acting and a unique casual style of dialogue delivery.
Irrfan Khan started his career in 1988 with a small role in the highly acclaimed ‘Salaam Bombay’ and after that had years of struggle trying to establish himself through various roles in mostly off-beat films. The final recognition as an exceptionally talented actor came with his two films, ‘Haasil’ (2003) for which he got the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in a negative role and the internationally acclaimed ‘Maqbool’ (2004). He never looked back since then. One outstanding film that comes to the mind is ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ (2011) in which he played the title character and won the National Award for Best Actor. It was followed by stupendously realistic movies like ‘Lunch Box’ (2013), ‘Piku’ (2015) and ‘Talvar’ (2015), and also Hollywood movies, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (2012), ‘Life of Pi’ (2012), ‘Jurassic World’ (2015) and ‘Inferno’ (2016). His comedy-drama ‘Hindi Medium’ (2017) became the highest grossing movie of his career giving him another Filmfare Award for Best Actor, and the release of the sequel ‘Angrezi Medium’, Irrfan’s last performance, had to be postponed as we mentioned earlier. Although Irrfan mostly played serious intense characters his comic timing was also established in movies like ‘Piku’ and ‘Hindi Medium’. He was awarded ‘Padma Shri’, India’s fourth-highest civilian honor, in 2011.
During the last two years not many of his movies were running in the theaters which makes our hearts cry now, for missing his powerful screen portrayals; however, as a consolation, his lovable movies like ‘Billu’ (2009), ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Piku’, ‘Talvar’, ‘Jazbaa’ (2015) and so on were being constantly shown across the small screens of the movie channels. In his personal life he was a devout loving husband and a caring father, leaving behind his co-actor wife and two sons.
As the film fraternity of India and international admirers shower an unending stream of messages of shock, anguish and condolences we deeply mourn Irrfan Khan’s untimely demise and pray for the eternal bliss of his soul. One of the finest actors of all time, Irrfan Khan will live on in our hearts, forever. His painful struggle hoping against hope symbolizes what planet earth is going through at this moment-uncertainty looming large over every field of activity including the film industry all over the globe.