Remembering Irrfan: An actor par excellence

Remembering Irrfan Khan: The inspiring journey of an actor par excellence

Irrfan Khan. (Credit: DH File Photo)

Actor Irrfan Khan, widely considered to be one of the finest actors in the Hindi film industry, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 53. Hailing from a simple background, the Rajasthan native was a product of the National School of Drama and a self-made star in the truest sense.

As is often the case, his initial years in the industry were challenging. After shifting to Mumbai, he acted in serials like Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj and Chandrakanta and carved a niche for himself. In 1986, he essayed a small role in Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay but it did not make the cut.

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Thereafter, he acted in critically-acclaimed movies like Ek Doctor Ki Maut and Such a Long Journey but failed to gain widespread attention. These setbacks, however, did not break his spirit and he bounced back with British director Asif Kapadia’s The Warrior that convinced him that acting was his calling.

It was, however, the 2003 release Maqbool that proved to be a gamechanger for Irrfan and proved that he was meant for the big league. The well-received Haasil emerged as another landmark release for him and helped him bag the Filmfare Award for ‘Best Villain’. The film featured him in the role of a fearless goon and served as strong proof of his abilities as an actor.

He subsequently stayed in the limelight with movies like Life in a... Metro, Sunday and Krazzy 4. Despite this, he was not considered to be a viable leading hero.

This changed, however, when he hit it out of the park with Paan Singh Tomar, which featured him in the role of an athlete-turned-dacoit and exceeded expectations at the box office. The Lunchbox, Piku and the sleeper success Hindi Medium helped him consolidate his standing even further. A veteran in his own right, the powerhouse performer never hesitated to carve his own subtle niche when acting with younger heroes. In 2018, he quite beautifully underplayed things in Karwaan and let Dulquer Salmaan be the star attraction.

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Unlike some his peers, Irrfan was a fairly well-known name in Hollywood. He impressed one and all with his effective portrayal of the ruthless executive in The Amazing Spider-Man. While praising the actor, the film’s director Marc Webb said that he was a fan of his body of work. The versatile star reportedly took up the project to please his children.

He was also a part of Jurassic World and Inferno. The latter saw him work alongside Hollywood icon Tom Hanks and this created a great deal of buzz among movie buffs. The Sully star praised Irrfan and called him the ‘coolest guy in the room’, referring to his 'bindaas' nature.

Some of his other notable international outings include The Namesake, Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire.

Irrfan was also held in high regard because of his outspoken nature. He once said that he was not a fan of the word ‘Bollywood’ as it did not do justice to the industry and its unique techniques.

Irrfan's death is huge loss for the industry and the nation and he will be missed.