Irrfan Khan Dies

Remembering Irrfan Khan: The Actor Who Merited to Turn Down Hollywood

Life is full of uncertainty, and at times, it is impossible to prepare for what is to come next. Today, the world lost one of its significant acting icons. Irrfan Khan was one of the best actors of all time and my most beloved one in the modern-day Bollywood.

For an industry that is known by its three Khans (Shah Rukh, Aamir, Salman), Irrfan was perhaps the most respected Khan in the Indian film industry.

His talent knew no boundaries as he appeared in movies across various film industries. Extraordinarily versatile and profoundly empathetic, his work resonated with the people, both in India and the West.

Irrfan Khan in Slumdog Millionnaire

I first acknowledged his acting prowess in the year 2009. He starred in Priyadarshan’s Billu as the lead character. His true-to-life portrayal of a barber immersed me. His big, expressive eyes and an unusual calmness spelled a charm on me.

Ever since I have been seeing his films, be it the excellent Paan Singh TomarThe WarriorLife of PiThe Lunchbox, or his latest Angrezi Medium. His magnetic voice and sharp dialogue delivery continue to mesmerize me. 

For a career that spanned for 25 years, he only starred in 49 films, reflecting his preference for playing quality roles. Very few actors have managed to get acclaim from the audience universally. Irrfan Khan found success both in Bollywood, as well as in the foreign film industries. 

Interestingly, he was also the only Indian, or maybe any actor in the world, to turn down substantial acting offers from visionary filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, and Steven Spielberg. Though, he was entirely worthy of making such bold decisions. 

His performances touched millions of lives. It was a result of his exceptional acting abilities that he piqued the interest of the filmmakers mentioned above and gained substantial credibility. 

Interstellar is my favorite film, and I have imagined Irrfan Khan several times playing the character of Dr. Mann. I wonder if he had said yes for the role? How different the emotional stakes and shock value have been if Mcconaughey found Irrfan, not Damon? 

Thinking of the same excited me. I was hopeful that someday – Irrfan will play equally compelling characters in Nolan or Spielberg films. Unfortunately, he left the world too soon, leaving a massive void in the global film industry.

If you are an admirer of Irrfan Khan, you must have experienced his best performances. Though in case you haven’t seen all of his films. Or you know him for his brief but impactful roles in Jurassic World and Inferno – you can watch the following movies, which have, in my opinion, his best performances.

5 Best Movies of Irrfan Khan

  • Maqboool (2003) – Available for streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar
  • Haasil (2003) – Availabe for purchase on Amazon
  • Billu (2009) – Available for streaming on Netflix
  • Paan Singh Tomar (2010) – Available for streaming on Netflix
  • The Lunchbox (2013) – Available for streaming on Netflix

What are your favorite films of Irrfan Khan? Do you also admire him as an actor? Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Mayank Nailwal
Passionate about films & filmmaking since 2002.
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