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

Variety logo Variety 4/29/2020 Naman Ramachandran
Irrfan Khan wearing a suit and tie © Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Irrfan Khan, the wide-eyed actor who enjoyed art house acclaim in his native India and crossover-success with Hollywood roles including “Life of Pi,” “Jurassic World” and “Inferno,” died on Wednesday. He was 53.

Khan, was previously diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour in 2018 and underwent extensive 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 cut short due to the spread of coronavirus pandemic 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 global prominence playing the lead 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 turn as a soldier-turned-bandit in Dhulia’s “Paan Singh Tomar” earned him India’s National Award for best actor.

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

Khan’s mother passed away in Jaipur a few days ago and he had to witness the funeral remotely 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.

Related Slideshow: In-Memoriam 2020: Remembering the stars we lost (via Photo Services)


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