Famous Indian actor Irrfan Khan, whose international film career included such hits as “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Life of Pi” and “The Amazing Spider-Man”, has died at 53, his publicist announced on Wednesday.
The Bollywood star, who was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor in 2018, was admitted to Mumbai hospital earlier this week for a colon infection.
“Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought to the end and who always inspired everyone who approached him,” said his reporter in a statement.
Born in the Indian desert state of Rajasthan on January 7, 1967, Khan discovered an early passion for theater and studied at the National Theater Elite School.
But his training at Shakespeare and Chekhov did little to facilitate his entry into the Hindi film industry, which at the time was largely focused on the production of blockbusters of classical songs and dances.
Even though he landed a role in 1988’s “Salaam Bombay” – directed by beginner Mira Nair – his share was reduced to a cameo.
He sobbed for hours when he discovered the cuts, he told India’s Open magazine.
“It changed something in me. I was ready for anything afterwards, “he said.
Television roles followed, as did a handful of Bollywood parties, where producers regularly dismissed him as too conventional to play the main role.
By the time British director Asif Kapadia chose him as a mercenary in “The Warrior”, he was ready to stop playing, frustrated by the direction of his career.
But as a sign of the worldwide success that awaited it, the 2001 film garnered prizes and won Khan praise – including in India, where a new generation of directors was eager to experiment with new screenplays.
His training in drama school was useful to him when he was chosen for “Maqbool” and “Haider” – contemporary Hindi adaptations of “Macbeth” and “Hamlet”.
But he also charmed audiences with lighter fares like “Piku”, with Bollywood superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone, and “The Lunchbox”, in which he played a lonely accountant in love with a housewife. .
He consciously bypassed the traditional tropes of Bollywood, focusing on the intricacies of his craft.
This allowed him to carve out an exceptional career in Hollywood, where he collaborated with Oscar-winning directors such as Danny Boyle and Ang Lee and appeared in the HBO show “In Treatment”.
In a 2015 AFP interview, Khan said that western audiences “appreciate the elements and layers you bring to the character.”
But he added: “The informality and the personal relationships in Bollywood are nice. Things are too compartmentalized in Hollywood, and the system can be rigid. “
The father of two has appeared in nearly 100 films, winning awards and admiration from his peers for his nuanced performances.
In press promotions for their 2016 film “Inferno”, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks reportedly described Khan as “the coolest guy in the room.”
But her life took a tragic turn in 2018, when she was diagnosed with cancer. The news devastated his fans and the Indian film community.
Khan took a sabbatical to seek medical treatment in London – accompanied by his family – before returning to play a middle-aged father in “Angrezi Medium”, a follow-up to the 2017 hit “Hindi Medium”.
He suffered a relapse in the months before the film was released, forcing him to return to Britain.
In an interview with the newspaper Mumbai Mirror in March 2020, he described life after the diagnosis as “a memorable roller coaster ride”.
“The happy times have been highlighted because of the inherent uncertainty. We cried a little and laughed a lot, ”he said.