Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan, known internationally for his roles in the blockbuster films Slumdog Millionaire and Jurassic World, died at the age of 53.
Khan was known for his nuanced and understated performances, many calling him one of India’s most talented actors.
He was so respected that director Wes Anderson wrote to him once just so he could work with him.
In 2018, the actor revealed that he had a neuroendocrine tumor, a rare cancer.
He then underwent treatment at a London hospital for the disease, which affects cells that release hormones into the bloodstream.
Khan has been in intensive care in a Mumbai hospital since Tuesday with a colon infection.
Bollywood stars and politicians have rushed to pay tribute on social media.
“An incredible talent … a kind colleague … a prolific contributor to the world of cinema … left us too soon … creating a huge void,” said star actor Amitabh Bachchan who worked with him on the tweeted film Piku.
Actor Raveena Tandon tweeted that he was “a fantastic co-star, an outstanding actor and a beautiful human being”.
Actor Konkana Sensharma said that Irrfan had paved the way for many actors.
“Irrfan shone so brightly that we all reflected in his glory. Who are we going to look for such integrity again? The world is a lesser place now. Thank you for having the courage to be yourself and unlocking worlds for us, Irrfan, “she said in tweet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi described his death as “a loss for the world of cinema and the theater”.
“We will remember him for his versatile performance on different media. My thoughts are with his family, friends and admirers. May his soul rest in peace, ”he tweeted.
Khan moved from Bollywood to theater seamlessly to Hollywood action and art house.
In 2013, he won the National Film Award for India for his main role in Paan Singh Tomar, a biopic about a top athlete who becomes a bandit.
Other Bollywood hits in which he has performed include Lunchbox and Hindi Medium. His latest, Angrezi Medium, was released last month.
His international breakthrough came in the Anglo-Indian film The Warrior by director Asif Kapadia who won a Bafta.
It was also shortlisted for the UK’s official entry to the Oscars, but had to be dropped due to the fact that Hindi was not a native language of Britain.
The critical success of The Warrior launched his film career and over the next two decades, he would make up to five or six films a year.
He stayed in touch with Mira Nair – who had spotted his talent at drama school but cut him off from Salaam Bombay. They will continue to do The Namesake in 2006 and in New York, I Love You in 2010.
Michael Winterbottom chose him as the Pakistani police captain in A Mighty Heart and Wes Anderson wrote a small role for him in The Darjeeling Limited – just so he could work with him.
Two months after Khan released his diagnosis, he wrote an open letter about his experience with cancer treatment, reflecting on the “intensity” of his pain and the “uncertainty” of life.
This drew massive support from fans around the world.
“A huge loss for Indian cinema”
Soutik Biswas, BBC News, Delhi
The untimely disappearance of Irrfan Khan is the greatest loss for Indian cinema since the death of Smita Patil, one of the country’s most promising actors, in 1986.
Like Patil, Khan was a multifaceted actor, excelling in a wide range of roles and straddling various genres in mainstream cinema and the art house.
Khan was a successful outlier in Bollywood, known for his hammered cinema. He was a very discreet actor – highlighted in his brilliant performance as a loner in The Lunchbox – with unforced grace.
I still remember a brief meeting in the lobby of a hotel in the city of Agra where he was filming The Namesake for Mira Nair, a moving and moving tale of a Bengali couple recently immigrated to the United States.
I told him he looked like a Bengali professor with glasses from the 70s, the role he played in the film. He smiles shyly.
Khan was buried in Versova Kabristan Cemetery in Mumbai shortly after the announcement of his death. His family, close relatives and friends were present.
The press release issued by his public relations company confirming his death, said: “Surrounded by his love, his family for whom he cared most, he left for paradise, leaving behind a real legacy.
“We are all praying and hope he is at peace. “
This is the second family tragedy in less than a week.
Four days earlier, Khan’s 95-year-old mother died in Jaipur, but was unable to attend his funeral due to India’s nationwide lockdown to fight the pandemic of coronavirus.