Irfan Khan, an icon of Indian cinema who had a string of Anglo-American successes under his belt, including Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi, and Jurassic World, has died in Mumbai. Irrfan Khan, one of Bollywood’s most beloved stars who had achieved considerable success in the west, has died aged 53.
He had been admitted to the intensive care unit of Mumbai’s Kokilaben hospital on Tuesday with a colon infection and on Wednesday morning a statement was released confirming his death. “It’s saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away,” read the statement. “Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him.”
Despite his status as one of Bollywood’s most celebrated actors, Khan had a reputation for modesty and integrity and news of his death sent India into mourning, prompting actors, fans, and politicians from across the world to express their sadness at his death.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said that Khan’s demise was “a loss to the world of cinema and theatre. He will be remembered for his versatile performances across different mediums. My thoughts are with his family, friends and admirers. May his soul rest in peace.”
Fellow Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan said Irfan Khan’s death left a “huge vacuum”. “An incredible talent, a gracious colleague, a prolific contributor to the world of cinema … left us too soon,” tweeted Bachchan.
“The charisma you brought to everything you did was pure magic,” tweeted Priyanka Chopra. “Your talent forged the way for so many in so many avenues. You inspired so many of us. Irrfan Khan you will truly be missed. Condolences to the family.”
Indian politician Rahul Gandhi described Khan as a “versatile and talented actor” who would be “greatly missed” while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said India had lost “one of the most exceptional actors of our time.”
In March 2018, Khan revealed he had been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor, but after extensive treatment, he recovered well enough to shoot Angrezi Medium, the film that would turn out to be his last, and whose release this March was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Best known to English-speaking audiences as the police inspector in Slumdog Millionaire and for his roles in Jurassic World and Life of Pi, Khan was a Bollywood mainstay, acting in hits such as Haider, Piku and Hindi Medium.
“I always object to the word Bollywood,” he told the Guardian in 2013. “I don’t think it’s fair to have that name. Because that industry has its own technique, its own way of making films that has nothing to do with aping Hollywood. It originates in Parsi theatre.”Khan is survived by his wife, Sutapa Sikdar, and sons Babil and Ayan.