It is often said that death overpowers everything, but not on the art of the artists as their works remain in the heart of their audience, while their legacy is continued by the young minds they inspired during their reign. Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, commonly known as Irrfan Khan, was one such artist. With his versatility and emotionally powerful acting skills, Irrfan inscribed a mark on the hearts of many cinema-lovers, and his sudden death is mourned by his fans, admirers, and loved ones. With utmost respect and nostalgia, this article intends to pay a tribute to his works that have inspired many.
Not only had he won the hearts of the Indian audience through his premier movies, such as The Namesake (2006), Life in a…Metro (2007), and Paan Singh Tomar (2011), but many international directors also cast him in pivotal roles in their movies and praised his acting skills. He played important roles in critically acclaimed Hollywood films, such as Life of Pi (2012), as well as blockbusters like Jurassic World (2015), and Inferno (2016). His highest-grossing Hindi film release came with the comedy-drama Hindi Medium (2017), which won him the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. Sadly, his final appearance was in its sequel Angrezi Medium (2020).
Through all his movies, the one thing that made him unique was the way he portrayed certain roles that are not usually seen in commercial Bollywood movies. While most Bollywood films are action-packed and some subtly encourage hegemonic ideas (such as objectification and capitalism), most of Irrfan’s films are emotion-driven and the impacts of those films were amplified through his acting. It is the way he embraced the character and the script that made him one of the most versatile actors in the world. He was not looked up to for his tough stunts or chiseled physique, rather he was seen as someone who could make the audience go through a certain form of catharsis by his complex portrayal of seemingly simple characters in interesting movies.
As much as his journey from a struggling actor to an international superstar is inspiring for all the beginners out there, his humble personality is also noteworthy. In 2012, he stopped using Khan as a part of his name because he wanted his work to define him — neither his caste, nor his religion. Thus, his work ethic reflected his integrity and dedication towards building a better society. The sudden death of Irrfan Khan is a great loss for the film industry worldwide as his style was as unique as his personality. With his demise, the world has definitely lost an inspiring artist. May he rest in peace as his art will always linger in the hearts of his fans.