Udayavni Special

Remembering Irrfan Khan’s Cinematic Journey from 1988-2020


Team Udayavani, Apr 30, 2020, 12:11 PM IST

Irrfan Khan lost the battle with a rare form of cancer and died in a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday, April 29. Like a true artiste he lived through his stunning body of work in a career spanning three decades.

As his fans and friends remember the wonderful artiste and human being, here is a look back at some of his memorable screen outings.

Salaam Bombay (1988)

Irrfan, who had left behind his father’s business and a career in cricket, started his career on a humble note with Mira Nair’s movie about the boys living in the slums of the maximum city. Most of his cameo ended on the cutting floor but for a mere blink-and-you-miss appearance.

The Warrior (2001)

After a couple of odd jobs in a few films, Irrfan broke out on the international stage with Asif Kapadia’s film about a warrior in feudal Rajasthan.
The actor’s menacing turn as Lafcadia won over the critics, both in India and around the world, and opened up opportunities for Irrfan to showcase his skills.

Haasil (2003)

Irrfan played a negative part in the Tigmanshu Dhulia-directed movie set around the world of student politics in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. The actor power-packed performance was an absolute revelation for the viewers and first of many collaborations with good friend Dhulia.

Maqbool (2003)

The same year, the actor also starred in Vishal Bharadwaj’s critically-acclaimed adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.

The actor, who featured alongside Tabu and Pankaj Kapoor in the film, made the most of the opportunity as he pulled off the complex character of Miyan Maqbool who decides to kill off his master Abba Ji in his thirst for power. All the three stars were universally praised for the their performances in the movie.

The Namesake (2006)

Reuniting once again with Tabu, the actors were able to form a deep bond with the viewers as they told the story about an immigrant family in the US.

Right from the start, director Mira Nair was convinced that Irrfan was best suited for the role of Ashoke Ganguli, the wise but melancholic head of the family.

A Mighty Heart (2007)

In Michael Winterbottom’s film about slain journalist Daniel Pearl and his widow Marianne, Irrfan appeared as Zeeshan Kazmi, the chief of Karachi Police.

Despite the presence of a star like Angelina Jolie, Irrfan was able to stand out with his subtle-yet-imposing performance.

Life in a… Metro (2007)

Irrfan played the role of Monty, a man looking for a bride, in filmmaker Anurag Basu’s movie about interconnected stories. There was a humour in the actor’s performance that instantly stuck with the viewers.The actor won the best supporting actor trophy at the Filmfare Awards the next year.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Irrfan worked with Danny Boyle on this British movie and his role of a police officer was memorable in the film. Slumdog Millionaire was widely acclaimed for story, soundtrack, direction, and performances. The film was also nominated for 10 Academy Awards out of which, it won 8.

Paan Singh Tomar (2012)

Irrfan reunited with Dhulia for the movie about the eponymous bandit and an athlete, who rebels against the system. The film is considered among his best and won him a National Award for Best Actor a year later.

Life of Pi (2012)

In Oscar-winning film-maker Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same, Irrfan appeared as the elder version of the titular Pi or Piscine Molitor Patel.

The actor delivered a humbling and emotional performance as a man who undergoes a life-changing experience when he finds himself stranded in the ocean along with a group of animals.

The Lunchbox (2013)

Irrfan portrayed a soon-to-retire government employee who forms a bond with a woman (Nimrat Kaur) through a mistaken lunchbox delivery. The whole romance is told through the letters that Irrfan and Nimrat send each other everyday.

Ritesh Batra fully utilized the prolific performer he had in Irrfan and film was a big success when it released in 2013.

Qissa: A Lonely Ghost (2013)

Irrfan played a Sikh Punjabi Umber Singh in this Partition saga, whose desire to have a son takes a bizarre and violent turn, ruining the lives of everyone around him. It is Irrfan’s less famous but among most evocative performances.

Haider (2014)

Vishal Bharadwaj and Irrfan reunited for another Shakespearean adaptation. The film, based on Bard’s tragedy “Hamlet”, featured Irrfan in a small yet powerful role of Roohdar. His entry sequence from the movie is still considered one of the best in Hindi cinema.

Talvar (2015)

The same year, the actor appeared as CBI officer Ashwin Kumar in Meghna Gulzar film about the sensational Aarushi Talwar murder case.

The actor’s performance as a man who gets defeated by the unfair system was the best part of the film.

Piku (2015)

Irrfan had a charming turn in Shoojit Sircar’s adventure comedy movie, also starring Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone.

In a film dominated by dialogues mostly centring around constipation and bowel issues, Irrfan’s Rana brought balance and charm to the story. His romantic hero was identifiable and drawn from life.

Hindi Medium (2017)

The film, directed Saket Chaudhary, was the most commercially successful film of Irrfan’s career. He played the role of a man who goes to great lengths to ensure that his daughter gets into English medium school.

Angrezi Medium (2020)

The film, about a father keen to send his daughter to a foreign university at all costs, was the last film that the actor worked on while still undergoing treatment.

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