Irrfan Khan, ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Star, Dies at 53

Irrfan Khan, the great big-eyed actor who enjoyed art house acclaimed in his native India and amassed-success with major Hollywood roles including “Life of Pi,” “Jurassic World” and “Inferno,” died on Wednesday. He was 53 years old.

Khan has been previously diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour in 2018, and then went for a major treatment in London. He recovered well enough to shoot what would turn out to be his last film “Angrezi Medium,” the release of which was abruptly impeded as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that surged in March.

On Tuesday, he was admitted into the intensive care unit of Mumbai’s Kokilaben hospital with a colon infection.

After a brief stint in television, Khan made his film debut with a cameo in 1988 with Mira Nair’s Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay.” He returned to Indian television for the next decade. He shot to the global stardom playing the lead role in Asif Kapadia’s BAFTA winner “The Warrior” in 2001.

His major breakthrough in Indian cinema was in 2004 where he played Macbeth in Vishal Bharadwaj’s “Maqbool” and the antagonist in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s “Haasil.” In 2011, his come-back as a soldier-turned-bandit in Dhulia’s “Paan Singh Tomar” earned him India’s National Award for best actor.

Internationally, Khan’s most evident acts include “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Life of Pi”, “The Lunchbox”,  “The Namesake”, “Jurassic World”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”, and “Inferno”.

 He also starred in 2017 film “The Song of Scorpions”, a Variety award nominee at the Locarno Festival.

Khan’s mother passed away in Jaipur a few days ago and he had to witness the funeral virtually via video link from Mumbai due to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in India.

Filmmaker Karan Johar tweeted: “Thank you for those indelible movie memories….thank you for raising the bar as an artist …thank you for enriching our cinema….we will miss you terribly Irrfan but will always always be immensely grateful for your presence in our lives…..our cinema….we salute you.”

“An incredible talent … a gracious colleague, a prolific contributor to the World of Cinema, left us too soon, creating a huge vacuum,” tweeted veteran Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan.

He is survived by his wife Sutapa and sons Babil and Ayan.

May his soul Rest In Peace.

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