Irrfan Khan, as much at home in the Hollywood superhero film The Amazing Spiderman as in the introspective The Lunchbox , lost his battle with a rare form of cancer and died in a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday. He was 54.
Irrfan, one of India’s finest and most versatile actors, is survived by his wife Sutapa and his sons Babil and Ayaan. He was buried at the Versova graveyard.
It is the second tragedy for the family in less than a week. The Maqbool actor lost his mother, 95-year-old Saeeda Begum, in Jaipur just four days ago and could not attend the funeral because of the nationwide lockdown.
Irrfan, that rare artiste who straddled multiple worlds, making his mark in both international and Indian cinema in roles intense and light-hearted, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital with a colon infection.
He was surrounded by his loved ones in his last moments.
News of the death of the actor, who was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour in 2018, a rare form of cancer that attacks various parts of the body, was confirmed by his family in a statement.
I trust, I have surrendered, the family recalled him as saying when he was diagnosed with the disease.
There was an outpouring of grief from various quarters, including politicians and civil servants as well as his colleagues and his many fans.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Irrfan will be remembered for his versatile performances across different mediums. His demise is a loss to the world of cinema and theatre, Modi wrote on Twitter.
“My thoughts are with his family, friends and admirers. May his soul rest in peace,” the prime minister said.
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. After having been struck by lightning in 2018 with the news of a rare cancer, he took life soon after as it came and he fought the many battles that came with it, the statement read.
Surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about, he left for heavenly abode, leaving behind truly a legacy of his own. We all pray and hope that he is at peace. And to resonate and part with his words he had said, ‘As if I was tasting life for the first time, the magical side of it’, it added.
The news of his death was first confirmed by his “Piku” director Shoojit Sircar who sent his condolences to the family and doffed his hat to the actor’s fighting spirit.
“My dear friend Irfaan. You fought and fought and fought. I will always be proud of you.. we shall meet again.. condolences to Sutapa and Babil.. you too fought, Sutapa you gave everything possible in this fight. Peace and Om shanti. Irfaan Khan salute,” the director said on Twitter.
“Piku” co-star Amitabh Bachchan remembered Irrfan as an “incredible talent” and a gracious colleague.
“… A prolific contributor to the World of Cinema… left us too soon… creating a huge vacuum…,” Bachchan tweeted.
Bollywood star Ajay Devgn, who shared the screen with the actor in 2008 comedy “Sunday”, said Indian cinema suffered an “irreparable loss” in Irrfan’s death.
The self-effacing National Award winner, who acted in films as diverse as Life of Pi , The Namesake and Haasil , had stayed away from the public eye after his diagnosis in 2018 when he went to the UK for treatment.
On March 5, 2018 that Irrfan revealed that he was suffering from “a rare disease”.
In a philosophical note to his fans on Twitter, the actor wrote, “Sometimes you wake up with a jolt with life shaking you up. The last fifteen days, my life has been a suspense story. Little had I known that my search for rare stories would make me find a rare disease. I have never given up and have always fought for my choices and always will,” he had said.
Ten days later, the actor shared that he had been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour and would go abroad for the treatment.
He returned home in 2019 and managed to shoot for “Angrezi Medium”, the sequel to his 2017 hit “Hindi Medium”.
Ahead of the trailer launch of “Angrezi Medium”, he resurfaced on social media and informed his fans in an personal message that he would be sitting out the movie promotions due to his health condition.
“Enjoy the trailer and be kind to each other and watch the film. And yes, wait for me.”
The words linger on.
In his last interview with PTI, the actor said the outpouring of love from his fans felt like a blessing in this adversity.
“Blessings and adversity go hand-in-hand, I had heard, and I experienced it when it happened to me.
“The wishes from all over is like a feeling as if you are walking in the rain and you are not carrying any change of clothes and someone you don’t even know takes you inside his umbrella just like that,” he had said earlier this year ahead of the release of his film “Angrezi Medium”.
The film, which hit the theatres in March just before the lockdown that began on March 25, turned out to be his last cinematic outing.
Irrfan won best actor National Award for his performance in 2012’s biographical drama Paan Singh Tomar .
The actor was honoured with Padma Shri in 2011.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and other political leaders across the country on Wednesday mourned the demise of actor Irrfan Khan, calling him a “rare talent” who will be greatly missed.
President Kovind called Irrfan a “brilliant actor” and said that his remarkable performances will forever be remembered by the audiences.
“Saddened by the untimely demise of noted actor Irrfan Khan. A rare talent and a brilliant actor, his diverse roles and remarkable performances will remain etched in our memories.
“A big loss to the world of cinema and millions of film lovers. Condolences to his family & admirers,” the president said on Twitter.
PM Modi said that Irrfan’s death is a loss to the world of cinema and theatre.
“He will be remembered for his versatile performances across different mediums. My thoughts are with his family, friends and admirers. May his soul rest in peace,” the prime minister said in a tweet.
Home Minister Amit Shah said the country has lost an “exceptional actor and a kind soul”.
“Anguished over the sad news of Irfan Khan’s demise. He was a versatile actor, who’s art had earned global fame and recognition. Irfan was an asset to our film industry. In him, the nation has lost an exceptional actor and a kind soul. My condolences to his family and followers,” Shah tweeted.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hailed Irrfan was an actor “par excellence” and he is “deeply pained” by the news of his demise.
“He was an epitome of artistic brilliance and versatility. He enthralled audiences with outstanding performances in films like ‘Lunch Box’. His contribution to films will be remembered for long. Deeply pained by his untimely demise,” Singh posted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also mourned the death of the actor.
“I’m sorry to hear about the passing of Irrfan Khan. A versatile & talented actor, he was a popular Indian brand ambassador on the global film & tv stage. He will be greatly missed. My condolences to his family, friends & fans at this time of grief,” Rahul said.
Another Congress lead, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, tweeted, “His acting broke the boundaries of languages, nations and religions, creating an accent of acting that united all humanity through art and compassion.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also condoled Irrfan’s death, saying he was a hard-working and multi-faceted artiste whose journey from the Indian cinema to Hollywood was an inspiration to budding actors.
“He has been snatched away despite putting up a valiant fight against the rare form of cancer,” he said, adding that Irrfan accepted the reality of his diagnosis and faced the treatment bravely.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said he is “saddened and shocked” by the news of the death of the actor, who hailed from the state.
“My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans. May God give them strength. May his soul rest in peace,” he added.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Shocked to hear of the demise of Irrfan Khan, one of the most exceptional actors of our time. May his work always be remembered and his soul rest in peace.”
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Indian cinema has suffered a “great loss” in Irrfan’s demise.
“It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of actor Irrfan Khan. He was an actor par excellence and his untimely demise is a great loss to the Indian film community. We convey to his family and to every one who enjoys the works of the actor our deepest sympathy,” he tweeted.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee said Irrfan’s vast body of work will be his “legacy for generations”.
“Saddened at the passing away of the critically acclaimed film actor Irrfan Khan. He leaves behind a large body of work which will be his legacy for generations. I fondly recall him calling on me in Kolkata a few years ago. My condolences to his family, colleagues, fans & admirers,” she tweeted.
BJP president JP Nadda said, “The passing away of versatile actor Irrfan Khan is an irreparable loss to the world of art and cinema. Artists always lives in our memories with their work. I extend my deepest condolences to his family and fans.”
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav shared his photo with the actor on Twitter.
“Saddening to hear about the demise of one of the most versatile actors of Indian Cinema, Irrfan Khan! Met with Irrfan when he came calling at Patna residence! A multi faceted man, a great human being! My sincere condolences to his family, friends & fans,” he tweeted.
Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan deputy chief minister and senior Congress leader, said Irrfan’s contribution to cinema will always be remembered.
“My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and fans. May his soul find eternal peace,” he added.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said, “No stereotypical looks, no six-pack, no fancy dance steps, no dynastic claim to a place in Bollywood. It was just talent & a breathtaking screen presence. #IrrfanKhan your courage to speak up when others chose silence was your biggest asset & will be missed the most. God speed.”
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