Irrfan Khan passes away at 53; Shoojit Sircar condoles his demise

Updated: Apr 29, 2020, 14:43 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Irrfan Khan, who had been undergoing treatment for Neuroendocrine cancer is no more. The actor is survived by his wife, writer Sutapa Sikdar and two sons Babil and Ayan.

Irrfan Khan
Irrfan Khan

Breaking millions of hearts across the world, Irrfan Khan breathed his last at age 53. Irrfan Khan, who had been undergoing treatment for Neuroendocrine cancer passed away on Wednesday (April 29). The actor is survived by his wife, writer Sutapa Sikdar and two sons Babil and Ayan.

Irrfan had revealed on Twitter in 2018 that he was suffering from "a rare disease" and would share details when there was a conclusive diagnosis. He then took to his social media account to reveal that he had been diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour.

On Tuesday, the Angrezi Medium actor had been admitted to Mumbai's Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital with a colon infection and was in the intensive care unit (ICU), as reported by IANS. A statement by his spokesperson said, "Yes it is true that Irrfan Khan is admitted to ICU at Kokilaben in Mumbai because of a colon infection. We would keep everyone updated. He is under doctor's observation. His strength and courage have helped him battle and fight so far and we are sure with his tremendous willpower and prayers of all his well-wishers, he will recover soon."

Director Shoojit Sircar took to Twitter to share the sad new. He wrote:

An official statement regarding Irrfan's demise read, "'I trust, I have surrendered', these were the words that Irrfan expressed in a heartfelt note he wrote in 2018 opening up about his fight with cancer. And a man of few words and an actor of silent expressions with his deep eyes and his memorable actions on screen. It's saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away..."

The statement further read, "Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him. After having been struck by lightning in 2018 with the news of a rare cancer, he took life soon after as it came and he fought the many battles that came with it. Surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about, he left for heavenly abode, leaving behind truly a legacy of his own. We all pray and hope that he is at peace. And to resonate and part with his words he had said, 'As if I was tasting life for the first time, the magical side of it (sic).'"

Irrfan Khan's last film Angrezi Medium released in March this year. The actor's most memorable works include Salaam Bombay!, Maqbool, The Namesake, A Mighty Heart, Paan Singh Tomar, Life of Pi, The Lunchbox, Haider, Gunday, Piku, Talvar, and Hindi Medium, amongst others.

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  • 1/22

    Born on January 7, 1967, Irrfan's full name was Sahabzade Irrfan Ali Khan. Born into a wealthy conservative Muslim family, his dad Jagirdar Khan used to deal in tyres. He had two brothers, Imran Khan and Salman Khan and one sister Rukhsana Begum. (All photos/mid-day archives, AFP, Pallav Paliwal and Irrfan's official Instagram account)

    In picture: Irrfan had shared this picture and captioned it: I wanted my hair to be like Mithun Chakraborty, so I used to go to a barbershop and tell them ke mere baal seedhe kar do, because my hair were curly and kind of stiff. Aur kya hota tha ke first day my hair would look good just like Mithun's, but after that they would turn into a bird's nest!

  • 2/22

    The late actor was known for his acting skills, but as a student, Irrfan Khan used to be so shy that nobody knew he even existed. He was often scolded by teachers for not being audible in the class.

    In picture: Irrfan Khan and Shah Rukh Khan pose for a photograph during a promotional event for the film 'Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami' directed by Ravindra Gautam in Mumbai on August 11, 2014.

  • 3/22

    "My classmates didn't even know I existed in school. I was invisible. When my teacher used to ask my name, I used to stand up and say but they couldn't hear. I was often scolded 'speak loudly, say your name.' I was so shy," Irrfan told mid-day in an earlier interview. He, however, said as a kid all he thought was growing up quickly so that he would not have to attend school.

    In picture: "Somebody told me that to be an actor you must know horse riding. So whenever I went to ride (or learn to ride - which I didn't at that time), I made it a point that when I sat on the horse, my look would be inspired by Rajesh Khannaji. Hero toh banna hi tha!" - described Irrfan!

  • 4/22

    According to imdb.com, Irrfan has acted in 155 projects. A National School of Drama graduate, Irfan's finest films include the Indian films Haasil, Maqbool, Paan Singh Tomar, Haider, Piku, Talwar and Hindi Medium, and his international films include The Warrior, The Namesake, A Mighty Heart (with Angelina Jolie), Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi, The Lunchbox, Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost and The Song of Scorpions. He has also acted in the Hollywood films The Amazing Spider-Man, Jurassic World and Inferno.

    In picture: "Though we weren't allowed to watch cinema we used to watch a few movies .. and take pictures and weave a story around it… it would capture our minds … and it would be upto us and you to decipher what these stories would be! Look at the guy - he is supposed to be dead. But he is smiling!" - Irrfan captioned this picture on Instagram.

  • 5/22

    After completing his post-graduation from the National School of Drama, Irrfan started his acting career with television. He played a small role in 1988's Oscar-nominated film Salaam Bombay. The 1990's era was a time of struggle for Irrfan as despite working in numerous films he went unnoticed.

    In picture: "We were supposed to be riding horses… but we didn’t find any horses toh we found these … ummm… donkeys. The guy on the right has a gun (fake of course) … Arif (on the left) didn't get anything toh usne hunter utha liya … and who we are threatening in the picture .. I have no idea!" - captioned Irrfan.

  • 6/22

    In 2001, London-based director Asif Kapadia gave him a lead role in a British film The Warrior and he became popular. 

    In picture: Irrfan Khan posted an old picture from his National School of Drama (NSD) days and tweeted, "Woh bhi kya din the NSD ke...." His wife, Sutapa Sikdar, and actress Mita Vashisht also feature in the picture. After completing his MA in Jaipur, Irrfan learnt acting at the NSD.

  • 7/22

    Back home in Hindi cinema, Irrfan gained prominence through films like Rog, Maqbool, Haasil, Life In A Metro and Paan Singh Tomar.

    In picture: "This is our poster inspired by the #Sholay poster." - Irrfan captioned this picture.

  • 8/22

    There's a moving anecdote about Irrfan being cast in Mira Nair's debut film Salaam Bombay! After Nair had cast Irrfan—while he was still studying at NSD—as one of the street children, he workshopped with the actual street children. But, when they did test shots, the malnourished children were much shorter, whereas Irrfan, over six feet, stood out oddly.

    In picture: Best actor winner Irrfan Khan kisses his trophy during the Asian Film Awards in Macau on March 27, 2014.

  • 9/22

    "So, I had to uncast him and I made the very difficult decision just two days before the shoot. And I told him, 'Irrfan bhai, ek hi scene bacha hai (there's only a small scene left)… yeh kar dijiye abhi (please do this for now), but I owe you'," said Nair.

  • 10/22

    She kept her word, but it would be 20 long years before she could cast him in Migration (a short), New York, I Love You (another short), and the plum role of Ashoke Ganguli in The Namesake. Irrfan, in an earlier interview, said, "I remember sobbing all night when Mira told me that my part was reduced to merely nothing. But it changed something within me. I was prepared for anything after that."

    In picture: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao with Irrfan Khan

  • 11/22

    Irrfan had made startling revelations in 2017 that he was asked to compromise in his initial days. While Hollywood was rocked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal during the period, Irrfan Khan said things were not that different in Bollywood as well. Without taking names, he said he has been at the receiving end of such proposals.

    In picture: British director Michael Winterbottom, Irrfan Khan, US actress Angelina Jolie, US actor Dan Futterman and British actress Archie Panjabi pose on May 21, 2007, during a photocall for British director Michael Winterbottom's film 'A Mighty Heart' in the Festival Palace in Cannes, southern France, at the 60th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

  • 12/22

    "It has happened to me a lot of times. It won't be good to take names but a lot of times it has been hinted to me and sometimes I have been told clearly that if I compromise I'll get the job. But now it doesn't happen," he said during a media interaction, further adding that such things are tricky, especially when they come from the people one knows. 

    In picture: English actor Sir Patrick Stewart and Irrfan Khan pose during a photocall at the Dubai International Film Festival, in Dubai on December 8, 2017.

  • 13/22

    "It (invitation) has come from both, males and females. It becomes slightly weird because when people you know and respect a lot, give you such offers, you feel that the dynamics of the relationship will change. That's the sad part. But I have the power to accept or refuse them," said Irrfan.

    In picture: Actors Omar Sy (L), Irrfan Khan and director Ron Howard (R) pose during a photocall on the eve of the World Premiere of the movie Inferno on October 7, 2016, in Florence.

  • 14/22

    Irrfan was often asked if he has any plans to write a book on his life. Talking about the same, he said, "No, it is too boring for me. If I get a good writer sometime, who will write not just about me (then will think about the book). It should have other things as well like people who contributed (in my journey so far), circumstances. It should be a story of times and not me."

    In picture: The cast of Slumdog Millionaire, lead actor Dev Patel (L), Freida Pinto (C), Anil Kapoor (R), Irrfan Khan (2nd R) and Madhur Mittal (2nd L) at the 81st Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California on February 22, 2009.

  • 15/22

    Irrfan also never had any desire to join politics. "I am not looking for a future in politics. I am an artist and not here to win the election. I work for entertainment. My stories speak what I want to say. I only pick topics which I feel are important."

    In picture: Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan during a promotional event for their film 'Piku' in Mumbai on March 25, 2015.

  • 16/22

    At age 28, Irrfan married Sutapa, who is an Assamese Hindu. The two tied the knot back in 1995 before Irrfan earned critical acclaim as an actor. The couple has two sons, Babil and Ayan.

  • 17/22

    The couple met each other while studying at the National School of Drama (NSD). Khan says his wife Sutapa Sikdar is the best critique of his work and inspiration as well. "She is the best critique of my work. She has a better understanding of my performance. She has inborn talent. If she says it is a good performance, I blindly accept it. So she has been kind of an inspiration for me to shape me as an actor," said Irrfan.

  • 18/22

    Irrfan Khan used to share a great rapport with his elder son, Babil. They were so comfortable with each other that they used to talk about everything without hesitation. "I have no hesitation or embarrassment in discussing any kind of relationship with Babil, even if it is sexual. Every parent knows that it is difficult to communicate with their children because they have a mind of their own. It is better to have a friendly relationship with them," said the actor in an old interview.

  • 19/22

    In 2018, Irrfan Khan announced that he was battling a rare form of neuroendocrine tumour. The actor, after fighting the battle for the last two years, passed away on April 29, 2020, at Mumbai's Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. The actor was admitted a day before and was kept under observation for a colon infection.

  • 20/22

    In a statement, his official spokesperson said, "I trust, I have surrendered... These were some of the many words that Irrfan expressed in a heartfelt note he wrote in 2018 opening up about his fight with cancer. A man of few words and an actor of silent expressions with his deep eyes and his memorable actions on screen. It's saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away. Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him. After having been struck by lightning in 2018 with the news of rare cancer, he took life soon after as it came and he fought the many battles that came with it. Surrounded by his love - his family for whom he most cared about, he left for heaven abode, leaving behind truly a legacy of his own. We all pray and hope that he is at peace. And to resonate and part with his words he had said, "As if I was tasting life for the first time, the magical side of it..."

  • 21/22

    Irrfan Khan was last seen in Angrezi Medium, the last Bollywood film released before COVID-19 forced the complete shutdown of cinema halls. Angrezi Medium ran in theatres for just a day before cinema halls all over India were shut down.

  • 22/22

    You'll be truly missed, Irrfan!

    Picture: Illustration by Uday Mohite

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