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From small screen to Hollywood: A look at actor Irrfan Khan’s versatile journey

First Published: 29th April, 2020 16:59 IST

An actor par excellence with an impressive array of roles under his belt, Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan died today at the age of 53, triggering an outpouring of condolences. Hailing

An actor par excellence with an impressive array of roles under his belt, Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan died today at the age of 53, triggering an outpouring of condolences.

Hailing from Jaipur, the seasoned actor was born in a Muslim nawab family, to Begum Khan and Jagirdar Khan.

While studying for his Master’s degree, it was in 1984 that he earned a scholarship to study at the National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi.
Following his academic completion, Khan made his way to Mumbai, where he kicked off his career as an actor.

New to the industry, he started acting in numerous television serials, including ‘Sara Jahan Hamara’, ‘Chanakya’, ‘Star Bestsellers’, ‘Chandrakanta’, and more which went on air on Doordarshan and Star Plus.

He played the role of a psycho serial killer opposite actor Kay Kay Menon in the 1995 TV series ‘Darr’.

His portrayal of the famous revolutionary Urdu poet and Marxist political activist of India Makhdoom Mohiuddin in ‘Kahkashan’ was widely lauded.

Flexible in acting, Khan gave life to varied characters onscreen with ease.

In 1988, the actor made his big-screen debut in the drama film ‘Salaam Bombay’, though his role was not meaty enough.

By the 90s, the actor made his presence in movies such as ‘Ek Doctor Ki Maut’ and ‘Such a Long Journey,’ but they went unnoticed.

It was when London-based director Asif Kapadia gave him the lead in ‘The Warrior’, that Irrfan took the road of uncertainty to glory.

In 2001, the adventure drama took international film festivals by storm, making Irrfan Khan a known face, world over.

Thereafter, the actor tasted success in his acting career with movies like ‘Road to Ladakh,’ which received rave reviews at international festivals and ‘Maqbool,’ an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

After his first Bollywood breakthrough in 2005, with him being the lead in ‘Rog,’ the star was a frequent face in movies, either in the lead role, supporting, or the villain.

It was his performance as a villain in the 2004 released movie ‘Haasil’ won him the Filmfare Best Villain Award, followed by a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award in 2007 for his role in the box-office hit ‘Metro.’

His performance in the English-language drama ‘The Namesake’ was appreciated overseas, which was again closely followed by his appearance in international films ‘A Mighty Heart’ and ‘The Darjeeling Limited’.

The Hollywood recognition did not make him forget his roots – his ties with television. He took over the stage for many television shows as an anchor.
He played a police inspector in the 2008 film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, for which he won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Following the many credits from overseas, in 2012, the actor set the benchmark in the industry with his acting in the widely lauded adventure movie ‘Life of Pie.’

After giving his fans few of his best performances in the recent critically acclaimed Bollywood movies ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Piku and ‘Hindi Medium’, in March 2018 his acting career slowed down.

He had been on a year-long break after being diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour for which he was undergoing treatment in London.

However, the actor always stayed connected with his followers through social media, where he also thanked everyone for the love, wishes, and prayers that were bestowed on him.

Last year, on September 14, the actor returned to Mumbai after a ‘successful surgery’ and wrapping up his last film ‘Angrezi Medium’ in London.
Three days ago, on April 25, he lost his mother, who passed away due to age-related illness at the age of 95.

Khan is survived by wife Sutapa Sikdar who’s also an NSD graduate and sons Babil and Ayan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, several Union Ministers, politicians and members of the Bollywood and Hollywood industries have extended heartfelt condolences on Irrfan’s death.




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