The Untold Truth Of Irrfan Khan

Irrfan Khan, a crossover star in both English-speaking and Hindi-speaking entertainment industries known for his nuanced portrayals in blockbusters and art house films alike, has died at the age of 53, per CNN. The Bollywood icon was taken to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Mumbai for a colon infection on April 28, 2020 and was pronounced dead the following day.

"It's saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away," read a statement from the actor's family to Indian media (via Deadline). "Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him."

Khan was reportedly diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor – "an abnormal growth that begin in the body's specialized neuroendocrine cells," according to the Mayo Clinic (via CNN). – in March 2018, according to the BBCWhile the actor preferred not to discuss his diagnosis or condition with the public, India Today reported that he had sought treatment in the U.K. while continuing to work.

His last movie, Angrezi Medium, was released in March 2020; Khan tweeted to his fans that he was unable to promote the film at the time due to his own ongoing health issues, referring to "some 'unwanted guests' in [his] body that were "keeping [him] busy" in a video accompanying the film's trailer. While Khan did not go into detail as to what his bodily "guests" were, he let fans know that he would "keep [them] informed."

It took years for Irrfan Khan to land his big break

Born Sahabzade Irrfan Ali Khan on Jan. 7, 1967, in Jaipur, the capital of the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, per the Hindustan Timesthe actor first came to the attention of audiences in 1988 in a small role in the Academy-Award nominated Salaam Bombay!, directed by the critically-acclaimed Mira Nair. He would later collaborate with Nair on the adaptation of the Jhumpa Lahiri novel The Namesake in one of his first major English-speaking roles.

Despite this laudatory introduction to his chosen industry, it wasn't until his starring turn in the British film The Warrior in 2001 that Khan began to receive notable recognition for his work. In a 2013 interview with the BBC, Khan stated that the role was a turning point in his career in more ways than one, crediting it as the sole reason he decided not to give up on acting.

Irrfan Khan was a worldwide success

After his breakout role, Irrfan Khan worked steadily as an actor in both Hollywood and Bollywood. To English-speaking audiences, he was best known for his performances in Slumdog Millionaire, Jurassic World, The Life of Pi, and The Namesake, but, in India, Khan was considered one of the finest actors of his generation.

As The New York Times noted, Khan was known for his nuance and versatility as an actor, willing to place equal import on art house films and more mainstream commercial projects, alike, with a performance to show for it. Among his more famous roles were in Maqbool, the Indian adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which Khan played the titular lead, the high comedy Hindi Medium, and the Hindi-language thriller Talvar

Of his performance in Talvar as a "world-weary detective," NYT critic Rachel Saltz categorized his performance as "full of small, sly details, that doesn't seem familiar at all" — a description indicative of the complexity he imbued in each of his characters throughout his decades-long career.

In India, Irrfan Khan was one of the greatest actors of his generation

While his fanbase might have been larger in his native country, Irrfan Khan was globally recognized for his undeniable talent and indelible performances. As the The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw noted, the actor was far and wide considered "a distinguished and charismatic star in Hindi-and English-language movies whose hardworking career was an enormously valuable bridge between South Asian and Hollywood cinema."

The news of Khan's passing prompted expressions of grief and mourning on an international scale. On Twitter, members of India's entertainment royalty, including superstars Aamir Khan Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, the latter of whom referred to the late performer as "the greatest actor of our times" (via The New York Post).

Priyanka Chopra, another Bollywood-Hollywood crossover celebrity who had previously worked with Khan in the 2011 black comedy 7 Khoon Maaf, paid tribute to the actor, writing, "The charisma you brought to everything you did was pure magic. Your talent forged the way for so many in so many avenues.. You inspired so many of us. #IrrfanKhan you will truly be missed. Condolences to the family."