New Delhi, 29 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Indian actor Irrfan Khan, known for his roles in “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Life of Pi” and numerous award-winning Bollywood films, died in Mumbai on Wednesday. He was 53.
Khan’s death was confirmed by a spokesman for the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital where he was admitted with complications arising from a colon infection.
The actor was known for his versatility and played a wide range of roles from villain to hero to the unassuming man next door, often in an understated style with a touch of humour.
Khan was detected with endocrine cancer in 2018 for which he underwent prolonged treatment in London. He returned to work in 2019.
“It’s saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away. Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him,” his publicist said in a statement.
Khan is survived by his wife Sutapa Sikder, a scriptwriter, and two sons.
The actor was buried at the Versova cemetery in Mumbai with just family and a few friends and colleagues attending due to the restrictions in place to contain the coronavirus.
One of India’s finest actors, the tall and lanky Khan was known for expressing a gamut of expressions through just twitches of his eyebrows or a movement of the eyes.
“An incredible talent … a gracious colleague … a prolific contributor to the World of Cinema … left us too soon … creating a huge vacuum,” veteran actor actor Amitabh Bachchan tweeted.
Khan has acted in more than 100 films, mostly in Hindi, in a career spanning over three decades. He won India’s National Film Award in 2013 for his depiction of an athlete who becomes a bandit in the biographical movie “Pan Singh Tomar.”
His sensitive portrayal of a lonely accountant who mistakenly receives a colleague’s lunchbox in the film “The Lunchbox” won him the Viewers’ Choice Award at the 2013 Cannes film festival.
Hollywood films Khan acted in besides Danny Boyle-directed Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” are Mira Nair’s “The Namesake,” Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” and big-ticket ones like “Jurassic World,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
“An actor that every director wanted to work with. A human being that gave his best in every role. Indian film’s most successful export to Hollywood … Sad to see #IrrfanKhan leave us, after what we thought was successful fight against cancer,” film director Shekhar Kapur said in a Twitter post.
“He simply lit up the screen. Irrfan was an actor of a different calibre. We will miss him,” said Prasoon Joshi, screenwriter and chairman of India’s film certification board.
Tributes poured in from across India from colleagues, fans and admirers.
The deep admiration for Khan was evident in that through the day the top dozen Indian trends on Twitter were about him.
The hashtags ranged from his name, the names of his most popular films, to #restinpeace to #gonetoosoon.