Arguably one of India's best actors of the past two decades, Irrfan Khan worked with some of the top directors of the world.
Four films to remember Irrfan Khan by
Mumbai - 30 Jun 2020 13:27 IST
Hindi cinema was plunged into mourning two months ago almost to the day when actor Irrfan Khan died, aged 53, on 29 April.
Irrfan Khan had featured in several popular and acclaimed films like Maqbool (2003), Paan Singh Tomar (2012) and Haider (2014). He also found fame abroad with roles in Hollywood blockbusters like Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and Jurassic World (2015).
Much has already been written on Irrfan Khan over the years and, in particular, since his death. Here, we revisit some of the more celebrated works featuring arguably one of India's most talented actors of the past 20 years.
Salaam Bombay (1988)
While his appearance in Hindi Medium (2017) helped to create one of the biggest hits of the year, it was Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay (1988) that first put Irrfan Khan on the Hindi cinema map. This film saw Irrfan Khan make his screen debut in a bit part as a letter writer.
The actor was still a student at the National School of Drama in Delhi at the time, but the intensity of his performances had brought him to the attention of director Nair. The rest, as they say, is history. Salaam Bombay went on to be nominated for an Academy award for Best Foreign Language Film and helped Hindi cinema become a global phenomenon.
Today, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have a dedicated 'Bollywood' section, as mainstream Hindi cinema is sometimes called, in their extensive movie collection. Even the fact that a selection of the best casinos in India now features a 'Bollywood'-themed slot game called Bollywood Story, which involves the familiar boy-meets-girl scenario, shows just how influential this particular industry has become.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Wes Anderson is one of the more distinctive and gifted filmmakers from Hollywood, so it was huge praise when the director revealed that he had written a part for Irrfan Khan just so that he could work with the actor. Although Khan's role as the father in The Darjeeling Limited was only a small part, it once again proved that this actor could conjure up a stellar performance to carry the story forward.
Some critics thought Irrfan Khan outshone many of his co-stars in The Darjeeling Limited, and the part cemented his reputation in Hollywood as a quality actor. From here on, he was to find increasing success playing roles in everything from the international breakthrough hit Slumdog Millionaire (2008) to blockbusters like The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and Jurassic World (2015).
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
This epic crime drama deservedly won no less than eight Oscars at the 2008 Academy Awards. Once again, Irrfan Khan was in the thick of the action playing a police inspector, and the gravitas he brought to the role was hugely important in the global success of Slumdog Millionaire.
Khan's co-star in the movie, Anil Kapoor, posted a heartwarming eulogy about Irrfan when he died and many other leading lights, such as Freida Pinto and Angelina Jolie, from the film world also sang his praises.
Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle went so far as to say that Irrfan Khan’s role in the movie was pivotal to the film's success with his dignity, grace, charm, intelligence and calmness playing a huge part.
Life Of Pi (2012)
This epic Ang Lee movie once again gave Irrfan Khan the perfect opportunity to show his immense acting talent. Here he played the adult Pi narrating his life story of being adrift on the Pacific Ocean with a Royal Bengal tiger.
It was one of the biggest roles Khan had had till then in an international film and it was little surprise that Life Of Pi would pick up four Academy awards while earning over $609 million in box-office revenues worldwide.
Interestingly, Khan stated that his role as the adult Pi did not come easy to him, and it’s a testament to the actor’s humility that he would reveal such uncertainties. But one thing is for certain, that whenever Irrfan Khan was on our cinema screens, he would deliver a perfectly executed performance.