KARACHI: One of Bollywood’s most loved actor has passed away. Irrfan Khan has died aged 53. According to The Guardian, he had been admitted to the intensive care unit of Mumbai’s Kokilaben hospital on Tuesday with a colon infection.
Khan’s health had been turbulent since 2018, when he was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour, a rare form of cancer. After extensive treatment, Khan had recovered and was well enough to shoot what turned out to be his last film, Angrezi Medium.
The actor changed the game for Bollywood single-handedly: an industry that revolves around glamour, conventional beauty and nepotism, Khan was one of the first actors to stand against Bollywood’s stereotypes and make his place, paving the way for other talent that ordinarily got overlooked because they didn’t have fair skin, or six pack abs, or could dance like Salman Khan. Nope, Irrfan Khan did none of that but still became popular at a time when the aforementioned qualities were the only way one could become a lead actor in India.
But he challenged Bollywood in other ways too. He once teamed up with All India Bakchod (AIB), one of the most well-known comedy groups of India, to produce Every Bollywood Party Song Ever, taking a dig at all the Yo-Yo Honey Singh songs that were being produced at the time.
Journey in Hollywood
It helped his career in India, the fact that he managed to make his presence known in Hollywood with films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Namesake and Life of Pi. That’s not all though, he also has films like Jurassic World to his credit.
To be honest, it’s difficult to list down all the films that were gamechangers because he nearly always chose the best scripts. He did quirky films like Piku and Lunchbox but then also did gangster films like Maqbool, Haider and Madari. He could transform into any character, whether a hero or a villain, and just seem perfect for the role. Nobody could think of only one on-screen persona for him (like you can for big names like Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan).
Perhaps he made a special place for himself in Pakistan when he did the iconic film Hindi Medium, starring alongside our very own Saba Qamar. The film came at a good time in Pak-India relations, when cross border collaborations were happening in full swing (Sajal Aly and Adnan Siddiqui were doing Mom with Sridevi, Fawad Khan did Kapoor and Sons and was gearing up for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) and perhaps it made sense to feature Saba because the film covered a topic which was relevant in both India and Pakistan: our colonial hangover and obsession with the English language. The film also gave Saba a chance to shine in both India and Pakistan and gave a big boost to her career.
Irrfan Khan’s death is a loss that will be mourned by many, and love is pouring in from all parts of the world. Big names from both Hollywood and Bollywood are expressing their pain and sadness on Twitter. Even the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, lamented on the loss.