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Irrfan Khan: The Enigmatic Actor and True Gentleman Who Inspired Indian and International Artistes

Irrfan Khan.

Irrfan Khan.

After Irrfan Khan passed away on April 29, 2020, several Indian and international artistes spoke about his charming personality and enviable body of work.

A few days before Irrfan Khan’s death anniversary, The Academy remembered the actor in the In Memoriam segment of the Oscars ceremony. Actress Freida Pinto listed down her essential Irrfan Khan films on the Oscars website, paying tribute to the actor. “There was simply no one like Irrfan Khan. His grace and dignity along with his monumental talent as an artist, actor - a portrayer of humanity in all it’s shapes and forms - made me not only have deep admiration for him but I instinctively wanted to emulate that grace in my career as well,” she wrote.

Freida is one among several Indian and international artistes who have been charmed by the magic of Irrfan, and mourned his untimely death on April 29, 2020. Ang Lee, who worked with Khan on Life of Pi, had said in a statement, “Irrfan was a great artist, a true gentleman and a brave fighter. His passing away is cinema’s loss. We will miss him dearly.”

His Jurassic World co-star Chris Pratt had tweeted that he was “sad to hear about the passing of screen legend" adding that Khan “was an exquisite actor and human. He will be missed." Marc Webb, who directed Khan in The Amazing Spider-Man, had said, “Irrfan made it clear that power and gentleness could co-exist in a perfect balance… He may have been the most nuanced actor I have ever worked with and I will always be his dedicated fan." “The charisma you brought to everything you did was pure magic. You inspired so many of us," tweeted Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who starred with Khan in 2011’s dark comedy 7 Khoon Maaf.

Danny Boyle had talked about collaborating with Irrfan in Slumdog Millionaire. “Irrfan was a wonderful actor and a pivotal figure in the making of Slumdog Millionaire. It wasn’t a huge role and in fact on paper it was even less rewarding looking. But Irrfan saw the possibility of guiding our audience with his dignity, his grace, his charm, his intelligence and his calmness, through this crossword puzzle of an idea of a film."

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Actor Riz Ahmed had never met him, but tweeted that Khan was one of his heroes, calling him “one of the greatest actors of our time." “He was an inspiration and a hero to me and millions of others. His work was consistently transcendent, he was a guiding light for so many of us. If you’ve not seen his work, watch The Lunchbox or The Warrior. A true artist who spanned Bollywood and Hollywood and was acclaimed in both. His words in a letter to a newspaper about his illness are a reminder of his beautiful mind and of life’s fragility. His work will live on,” he added.

Several actors over the years have confessed to being his fan, and envying his filmography. Rajkummar Rao has said, “I am a huge fan of Irrfan sir. The kind of filmography he had, the work he has done and the performances he has given — I would love to achieve something like that. That would be great.”

Shoojit Sircar, who directed Irrfan in the 2015 release ‘Piku’, had an equation with him beyond just an actor-director pairing. “He has left a vacuum. If you ask me what the biggest loss was in 2020, I would say Irrfan Khan was the biggest loss to the film industry… What stood about Irrfan was his spirit as a human being. His simplicity of belief in humanity,” he told TOI. Amitabh Bachchan, who starred with Irrfan in Piku, had tweeted, “An incredible talent .. a gracious colleague .. a prolific contributor to the World of Cinema .. left us too soon .. creating a huge vacuum.”

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