Happy Birthday Irrfan Khan – An Artist Who Became My Friend, Mentor And A Guide Through His Impeccable Performances


Irrfan Khan has been one of the reason I loved cinema more than any thing else. While we are still recuperating from the shocking news of his death on 29th April 2020, Irrfan Khan was truly an epitome of talent. The brilliant actor, who explored his career with serious roles like Maqbool, Haasil, Paan Singh Tomar or Talwar gave comedy films a new meaning with his quirky and witty one-liner dialogues. With Piku, Hindi Medium, Qarib Qarib Singlle, Blackmail, Karwaan and Angrezi Medium, Irrfan Khan continued to show that he could play any role with his perfect expression of taking situation-as-it-comes and bringing out humor in it.

Let me reminisce the lesson learnt in life through the filmography of an extremely talented actor in his career which spanned for 35 years.

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A graduate from National School Of Drama, Irrfan Khan debuted with Mira Nair’s Oscar nominated film, Salaam Bombay!, though his scenes never made it to final cut. Irrfan Khan got inspired from Rajesh Khanna and started his acting career with Doordarshan’s Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode. Though he acted in few films, Star Bestsellers along with spate of DD National shows including  ChanakyaBharat Ek KhojSara Jahan HamaraBanegi Apni BaatChandrakantaShrikant and The Great Maratha, Irrfan success came with Asif Kapadia’s The WarriorRoad To Ladakh and Vishal Bharwaj’s critically acclaimed,  Maqbool. Not many know, but Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui first acted together in a short film, The Bypass, which won an award at the Milan Film Festival. His first Bollywood lead role was in the film, Rog, which tanked at the box office but he was praised for his performance.

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Irrfan Khan finally cracked the nuts when he surprised everyone with an enduring performance in Tigmanishu Dhulia’s  Haasil in 2007 for which he won the Filmfare Best Villain Award. He also did well the same year with Life in a… Metro, where he attempted comedy for the first time and was loved in that role. 2007 also saw Irrfan bagging International recognition with films like  The Namesake,  A Mighty Heart and The Darjeeling Limited.

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Irrfan Khan continued to focus on international projects like Slumdog Millionaire (2008), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and probably his best work in Life of Pi (2012). Irrfan Khan played the role of Paan Singh Tomar in  Paan Singh Tomar (2012) to T in his second collaboration with Tigmanshu Dhulia after Haasil. He was just perfect fit for this role where he had to emote the character of a sportsman while turning into a rebel. He won his first  National Film Award for Best Actor for Paan Singh Tomar. This was followed by The Lunchbox, which won the Grand Rail d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and received a BAFTA

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Irrfan Khan saw big turn around when he started experimenting with different genre of cinema from 2015. He worked for the first time with Shoojit Sircar directed Piku  (2015) alongside Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan. Irrfan Khan was appreciated for adding natural charisma to the character of a car company owner. Same year, Talvar became his first big hit as a solo star, thanks to the wonderful direction, mind blowing script and electrifying performances. Irrfan’s dream came true when he starred in Jurassic World (once he could not afford to buy the ticket to watch the 1995’s Steven Speilberg’s Jurrasic Park). Irrfan Khan bagged another international project and this time along with Tom Kanks in  Inferno in 2016. He also worked in Madaari, a very well made film by Nishikant Kamat. It was the year 2017 which changed the fortune of Irrfan Khan when he appeared in Saket Chaudhary’s Hindi Medium. The film belonged to Irrfan Khan who carried it on his shoulder. He surprises with subtle humor which will tickle your funny bone and made Hindi Medium a runaway success, becoming the highest grossing Bollywood film of his career. Same year, Irrfan Khan appeared in a light-hearted comedy flick Qarib Qarib Singlle with Parvathy Menon. The film did average business but Irrfan Khan was simply mind-blowing. This was his second film the same year after Hindi Medium where the actor did a fine job in comic scenes.

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In 2018, Irrfan Khan collaborated with Delhi Belly director Abhay Deol for a dark comedy film called Blackmail. Irrfan Khan stole the show with his perfect expression of taking situation-as-it-comes and bringing out humor in it. The talented actor was magnificent and gave a stupendous performance as Shaukat Ali in Karwan, with Dulquer SalmaanMithila Palkar and Kriti Kharbanda. Irrfan Khan came back after he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumor with  Angrezi Medium , which turned out to be his last film of his career

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Irrfan Khan has been one of the reason I loved cinema more than any thing else. Though I have never met you but through the characters you played in your films, you became my friend who supported with powerful performances, a guide who kept on entertaining me even through thick and thin times and a mentor who believed in hard work, passion and focus which translated into impeccable acting in each of your films.

To an actor who excelled in acting and am sure there will be no one like you

From one of your ardent fan.

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