'He loved the outdoors': Indian cinema remembers Irrfan Khan (1967-2020)
Irrfan’s colleagues remember him as a compassionate and sensitive performer, a man with an ‘ever-curious artistic spirit’ who ‘shone brighter than anything in the universe.’
Indian film legend Irrfan Khan passed away aged 53 on Wednesday. The actor was admitted to the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai, where he was under observation for a colon infection. In 2018, Irrfan had revealed he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour. The actor had sought treatment for several months in the UK.
Irrfan was buried on Wednesday afternoon at a cemetery in Versova. He is survived by his wife Sutapa Sikdar and sons Babil and Ayan. His burial was attended by his family, close relatives and friends. “We pray for his peace and hope he’s in a better place today. He was strong in his fight, and we all have to be strong too in this loss,” the actor’s representatives said in a statement.
The Indian film industry has mourned the passing of Irrfan. His colleagues remember him as a compassionate and sensitive performer, a man with an ‘ever-curious artistic spirit’ who ‘shone brighter than anything in the universe.’
Here’s what some of his co-stars and directors had to share in his memory…
Mahie Gill, co-star Paan Singh Tomar, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns
I’ve had the luck of working with him in two films. I was a newcomer on Paan Singh Tomar and was intimidated by his presence. But he had a way of putting everyone at ease. I remember we were shooting in Dholpur, Rajasthan. There was only one vanity van on set, which was given to Irrfan. He, however, made sure that I was using it the most, and would sit outside between takes. He had a deep respect for women and was always caring towards his co-stars. On Saheb Biwi, he made sure I was comfortable in the scenes we had together. He also had a great sense of humour. His demise has been a big loss to the film world.
Akarsh Khurrana, director of Karwaan
It’s so hard to imagine that Irrfan is no more. For Karwaan, I had shot with him for 30 days in Ooty and Kerala. Irrfan had fallen in love with Kerala. He would often pack up and wander around in the beautiful locations. Once, we were shooting near a water body when Irrfan took off on a boat to see the sunset. He was very happy. After shoots, the team would hang out together. Irrfan would always say, “Why are we hanging out in closed places?” He didn’t like restaurants and loved to be in the outdoors.
Neeraj Kabi, co-star Talvaar
Irrfan was a global actor in the truest sense. He brought his excellence and craft to every role he performed. His years of knowledge and hard-work can be felt in his entire body of work. He was the only actor who could represent us on a world stage.
In Talvaar, there was an interrogation scene between our characters. Irrfan was holding his mobile phone with his feet on the table. Because of the nature of the scene, I was in a sad mood that day. I wanted to focus on my character, and had not greeted Irrfan when I came in. It was a thought that kept bugging me, considering he was such a big actor. However, once we got the scene right, Irrfan reached across the table and extended his right hand to me, saying nothing. It was a gesture of praise from an actor who truly valued my contribution to the scene. It’s one image of him that I remember the most…
Ashvin Kumar, director Road to Ladakh
I recall the making of my debut film Road to Ladakh with Irrfan as lead, arriving with a broken wrist in a plaster sharing breakfast in my kitchen in Delhi. Soft-spoken and engaging, wonderful expressive eyes, an encounter from back in 2004 with this talented actor whose silences spoke louder than words.
Dinesh Vijan, producer Hindi Medium, Angrezi Medium
We are thankful for experiencing Irrfan’s resilience and spirit. We’re thankful for being allowed to witness his love and passion for everything around him. So yes, all I can say is thank you to him for letting us be a part of his journey. There is no one like Irrfan and I’m going to miss him very much.
Shah Rukh Khan, co-star Billu
My friend...inspiration & the greatest actor of our times. Allah bless your soul Irrfan bhai...will miss you as much as cherish the fact that you were part of our lives.April 29, 2020
“पैमाना कहे है कोई, मैखाना कहे है दुनिया तेरी आँखों को भी, क्या क्या ना कहे है” Love u pic.twitter.com/yOVoCete4A
Amitabh Bachchan, co-star Piku
T 3516 - .. just getting news of the passing of Irfaan Khan .. this is a most disturbing and sad news ..April 29, 2020
An incredible talent .. a gracious colleague .. a prolific contributor to the World of Cinema .. left us too soon .. creating a huge vacuum ..
Prayers and duas
Parvathy, co-star Qarib Qarib Singlle, in a social media post
For that persistent ever-curious artistic spirit that created worlds from scratch, for always including your fellow actors in the joy of such creations, for owning those very human errors as well as the generosity of your being, for always believing “it’s just the beginning!” Remembering you, Irrfan.
Dulquer Salmaan, co-star Karwaan, in a social media post
You were this humongous talent, a living legend, an international movie star. And yet, you treated all of us on Karwaan and everyone you met, as equals. By some ease of your nature, you made us all feel like family. You were kind, witty, charming, curious, inspired, compassionate and always fun. I observed you the entire time like a student and a fan. Thanks to you, all through shoot I had a constant smile plastered on my face. I laughed endlessly, struggled to keep a straight face, and so often stared at you in absolute awe. In return you always had that grin. That amused grin at the world. Almost like it surprised you at all times. It’s how I will always remember you.”