Tuesday, 5 May 2020•
Internationally lauded Indian actor Irrfan (born Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, on 7 January, 1967), passed away on 29 April 2020, at 53, in Mumbai, India. Irrfan, who was one of the earliest Indian actors to carve a substantial international career alongside his Indian films, in Hindi, died following a long struggle with cancer. The Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) salutes this remarkable actor and extends its heartfelt condolences to his family.
Trained at India’s National School of Drama, Irrfan did wide-ranging roles in over 150 films. His best known films include Ritesh Batra’s wry romantic comedy The Lunchbox (Dabba, 2013, that won two APSA awards—the Jury Grand Prize and Best Screenplay), and two Oscar-winners, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2018) and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (2012).
Irrfan had a close, near decade-long connection with APSA, with eight of his films in the APSA Competition. In fact, he was so prolific, most years he had two films in APSA Competition. These include Nishikant Kamat’s Mumbai Meri Jaan (Mumbai My Life, 2009); Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Paan Singh Tomar, 2012; Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox and Anup Singh’s Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost, both 2013; Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider (a remarkable adaptation of Hamlet, set in Kashmir) and Shoojit Sircar’s Piku, both 2015; Anup Singh’s The Song of Scorpions (with Golshifteh Farahani) and Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Doob – No Bed of Roses (Bangladesh), both 2017.
Irrfan’s international credits also include Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, The Amazing Spider-Man, Jurassic World, A Mighty Heart (with Angelina Jolie) and Asif Kapadia’s The Warrior (UK). Starting out in Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (1988, debut feature for both), he later also starred in her deeply moving The Namesake (2006). His finest Indian films include Haider, Haasil, Paan Singh Tomar, Talvar and Piku. His last film, Angrezi Medium, was released in March 2020. He is survived by his screenwriter wife Sutapa Sikdar, and their sons, Babil Khan and Ayaan Khan.
Written by Meenakshi Shedde, APSA Academy member