Irrfan Khan Biography, Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan Biography

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Irrfan Khan Early Life.

Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, born in the Indian desert state of Rajasthan on January 7, 1967, Irrfan Khan discovered an early passion for acting and studied at the elite National School of Drama. His drama school training came in handy when he was cast in Maqbool and Haider, contemporary Hindi adaptations of Macbeth and Hamlet. But his life took a tragic turn in 2018 when he was diagnosed with cancer. The news devastated his fans and India’s film community. Khan took a sabbatical to seek treatment in London – accompanied by his family – before returning to play the role of a middle-aged father in Angrezi Medium, his final film and a follow-up to the 2017 hit Hindi Medium. Acclaimed Indian actor Irrfan Khan, whose international movie career included hits such as Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi and The Amazing Spider-Man, has died at the age of 53, his publicist said on Wednesday.

Irrfan Khan Biography and Profile

Irrfan Khan (also known as Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan), one of Bollywood’s most versatile actors, renowned internationally for roles in the hit films Slumdog Millionaire and Jurassic World was born on 7 January 1967 in the western desert state of Rajasthan, in a family with no ties to the cinema. His mother’s family had a royal lineage and his father was a wealthy, self-made businessman who owned a tyre business.

Khan dropped the “Sahabzada” from his name as it pointed to his family’s privileged past, he felt this would get in the way. He also changed his name from “Irfan” to “Irrfan”, not for any noble motive, but simply because he preferred the way it sounds. When his father died, he side-stepped expectations he would go into the tyre business. He was determined to become an actor, although it was not a future his family and friends could easily foresee.

He was keen to work in film but the early roles were in India’s TV soap operas. With dozens of cable channels – each carrying multiple domestic daily dramas, the work was easy to come by but artistically unsatisfying.

For a decade he got stuck in hundreds of uninspiring parts “chasing middle-class housewives” on the Zee and Star Plus networks. He thought seriously about quitting acting.

“Once they didn’t even pay me because they thought my acting was so bad,” he claimed.

His big screen debut was a further disappointment. Cast as one of the younger characters in Mira Nair’s Oscar nominated Salaam Bombay!, he was devastated when his character hit the cutting room floor.

The scriptwriter sympathised but could only tell him “you win some, you lose some”.

The soft-spoken, self-possessed actor was also Bollywood’s most successful crossover star. Khan was known for his nuanced and understated performances, with many calling him one of India’s most talented actors. He was so highly respected, director Wes Anderson once wrote him a part just so he could work with him. Inspired by India’s arthouse cinema of the 1980s Khan decided to make a career in the field and moved to New Delhi to study theatre.

He then moved to Mumbai in search of acting jobs, but the Bollywood films of the 1990s did not present opportunities for the understated acting that Khan favoured. Khan worked in serials for Indian television for close to a decade and sought bit parts in films.

“No-one could have imagined I would be an actor, I was so shy. So thin,” Khan said. “But the desire was so intense.”

In 2001, as he was close to giving up, British filmmaker Asif Kapadia offered him the lead role in “The Warrior”. The film won a BAFTA for Best British Film and was Britain’s entry to the Oscars. It also opened the doors to Hollywood, which appreciated Khan long before Bollywood claimed him.

When Mira Nair was making Salaam Bombay, actor Irrfan Khan, fresh out of New Delhi’s renowned National School of Drama, was offered a role in the film.Thinking that he didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the cast, Nair decided to let go of his part. He ended up acting in a small role before reuniting with Nair for her 2007 film The Namesake; this time as the lead actor, as Ashoke Ganguly, the Bengali professor who immigrated to the USA. He went on to act in “Jurassic World”.

In “The Namesake”, he won praise for his sensitive portrayal of a man who moves to the United States and grapples with the crises of identity that first-generation immigrants can face.

Khan acted in filmmaker Ritesh Batra’s debut, “The Lunchbox”. An intimate story about a cantankerous man and the woman who mistakenly sends him her husband’s lunch box one day, the film won worldwide acclaim, including in India.

In March 2018, Khan announced that he had been diagnosed with a neuroendrocrine tumour. He subsequently returned from London, where he was being treated, and shot a film “Angrezi Medium” (English Medium), which released in Indian cinemas last month.

Khan was absent during promotions and had not been seen in public since news of his diagnosis.

Irrfan Khan Relationship with Islam

He would also refuse to take parts he felt had too close a religious or cultural connotation – declining roles in Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children and Mira Nair’s Reluctant Fundamentalist. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, he found himself twice detained at Los Angeles airport because his name was similar to that of a terrorist suspect.

He tried to drop the family name Khan, preferring to be called simply Irrfan in the credits of his films. He also upset Muslim leaders by criticising animal sacrifice in Islam.

“We perform these rituals without knowing the meaning behind them,” he said.

He was angrily advised to concentrate on his film career and refrain from making “random statements about our religion”.

Irrfan Khan Education Background

In 1984, he applied for a scholarship to the National School of Drama in Delhi. He lied about his previous experience in the theatre and got in.

“I thought I would suffocate if I didn’t get admission,” Irrfan Khan told one interviewer.

Here Are Some of Irrfan Khan Roles

Piku (2015).
In this heartwarming comedy of a father-daughter relationship (with plenty of bathroom humor), Khan plays a taxi driver with family drama of his own. It’s a classic Khan sidekick role as his wisdom ends up carrying much of the film’s message.

The Lunchbox (2013).
This is about as perfect a movie as it gets. Khan plays Saajan Fernandes, an everyman accountant who has just been widowed. He accidentally starts to receive lunches with notes in them (made by a woman trying to save her own marriage) and a virtual affair begins and blossoms.

The Namesake (2006).
It’s one of those rare cases where the movie might be better than the book,- and that’s all because of Irrfan Khan. He plays Ashoke Ganguli, an Indian immigrant in America, grappling with a new land, a new wife and big dreams. The scenes between him and Tabu, who plays his wife, are sweet and memorable, holding universal lessons about how true love might actually come after marriage.

In Treatment (2010).
This is the only TV series I am including but the intensity and simplicity of a show about a psychotherapist and his clients plays to Khan’s strengths. Khan plays Sunil, who leaves India after his wife’s death to move in with his son and daughter-in-law in Brooklyn. It happens to be the reason I interviewed Khan and he told me then:

“There’s a uniqueness to this program. I can’t say it’s cinema or television or theater. The camera or director doesn’t take liberties with time and space.”

Life of Pi (2012).
In director Ang Lee’s adaption of a boy’s remarkable survival at sea, Khan plays the adult character of Piscine ‘Pi’ Patel. A scene from this movie where Pi talks about life and death is now being widely shared: “I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.” Indeed.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
This movie unfurls in a series of poignant flashbacks and Khan plays the police inspector who keeps bringing us back to the modern day. The transformation from tough-talking and threatening to forgiving and compassionate is signature Khan and this film introduced him to Western audiences in a big way.

Life in a Metro (2007).
Khan’s life and career spanned a rapidly changing and modernizing India. This film captures the angst among India’s young and restless professional class, looking for love and meaning. Khan plays Monty, a sweet but socially awkward guy (again, one we all know). Like Piku, this movie showcases Khan’s comedic timing.

Hindi Medium (2017).
My friend and film critic, Aseem Chhabra, wrote a biography on Khan released earlier this year and highly recommends this movie. The film is about getting kids admissions to elite schools and Khan is reported to be hilarious.

Haider (2014).
This is the third installment of director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Shakespearean trilogy; Khan also acted in the highly acclaimed Maqbool. In ‘Haider,’ Khan emboldens the protagonist’s desire for revenge over his father’s death and the film brilliantly underscores how politics become so personal and family divisions in times of militancy.

What strikes me in the above roles is how often Khan played someone we all know and mastered the art of turning the ordinary moment into the extraordinary lesson. In announcing his cancer diagnosis two years ago, he quoted Margaret Mitchell, saying “Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect.” He pledged: “To those who waited for my words, I hope to be back with more stories to tell.”

Irrfan Khan Awards

Irrfan Khan rose to international fame when he played a police inspector in “Slumdog Millionaire,” which won eight Academy Awards and seven BAFTA Awards.

“I never knew it was going to be popular worldwide in such a big way, with the Oscars and all that,” Irrfan Khan said in a 2015 interview with CNN.

Khan then took on a bigger starring role in “Life of Pi,” which also won multiple Golden Globes and Academy Awards, and played supporting roles in major US films like “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Jurassic World” and “Inferno.”

Irrfan Khan Net Worth

According to website The Cinemaholic, his estimated net worth at the time of his death was close to £40m. Irrfan appeared in a great number of films, including, famously, Life of Pi in 2012. He also appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, and in Jurassic World in 2015.

Irrfan Khan Death

In 2018, Irrfan Khan was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours, which affects cells that release hormones into the bloodstream. Khan said in the past two years, after he was diagnosed with the illness, things have stopped mattering so much. “You screen out noises …You are selective about what you want to filter in. I have gone through tremendous but have somehow managed to control it, then, let go. You are playing hopscotch all the time,” Mumbai Mirror quoted him as saying.

He had an iconic Hindi song that kept playing in his head. In more ways than one, those verses defined that grim period in his life that sprang out of nowhere.

“I tell life: ‘Lag Jaa Gale Ki Phir Yeh Haseen Shaam Ho Naa Ho, Shayad Is Janam Mein Mulaqaat Ho Na Ho [Embrace and hug me life, for your never know if we will ever have this magical evening like this or not, Perhaps we may meet or never meet again in my lifetime],” said Khan in an exclusive email interview with Gulf News tabloid.

Khan was alluding to the iconic romantic song sung by Lata Mangeshkar that encapsulates the frailties of life by two lovers and those lines continue to be significant for all those who have lost loved ones or courted death.

In a tweet quoting Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind, he greeted the news philosophically.

“Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect,” he said.

He sought treatment for his condition in London, and posted a poem to his followers on Instegram suggesting his religion was playing an important role in coming to terms with the disease.

“God speaks to each of us as he makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night.”

In an interview with the Mumbai Mirror newspaper, he described life after the diagnosis as “a roller-coaster ride, a memorable one”.

“Happy moments were underlined because of the inherent uncertainty. We cried a little and laughed a lot,” he said.

Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan, a descendant of northern Indian royals, who acted in soap operas before starring in dozens of Hindi-language films and crossover hits like Slumdog Millionaire, died in Mumbai at age 54. Khan was initially treated in a London hospital before returning to India, but passed away in Mumbai on Wednesday morning with a colon infection. He spent his final hours “surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about,” a statement released by his family said. His mother Saeeda Begum died on April 25, 2020.

Khan’s last Bollywood movie, Angrezi Medium, a sequel to one of his biggest hits, Hindi Medium, was released just before India went into lockdown last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him,” the actor’s team wrote in text messages. “He was strong in his fight, and we all have to be strong too in this loss.”

“It’s saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away,” read a statement from Khan’s PR agency, Hardly Anonymous Communications. “Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him.”

Irrfan Khan, an Indian actor who brought versatility and style to recent hit films and had roles in Hollywood movies such as “Life of Pi” and “The Namesake”, died on Wednesday, aged 54. His death, after a prolonged battle with cancer, was confirmed by a spokesman who said Khan was surrounded by family at the time.

“He fought the many battles that came with it,” the spokesman said in a statement, referring to the diagnosis of Khan’s rare cancer in 2018.

Khan was among the first Indian actors to make a consistent mark in Western cinema, following in the footsteps of crossover pioneers such as Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth and Om Puri.

“An incredible talent,” said Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, among the tributes on Twitter that followed Khan’s death. “A gracious colleague. A prolific contributor to the world of cinema .. left us too soon creating a huge vacuum.”

“Irrfan Khan’s demise is a loss to the world of cinema and theatre,” tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “He will be remembered for his versatile performances across different mediums. My thoughts are with his family, friends and admirers.”

Other prominent politicians, like Home Minister Amit Shah and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, also shared their condolences online.

“The charisma you brought to everything you did was pure magic,” tweeted Indian actor and model Priyanka Chopra Jones.

Award-winning filmmaker Shoojit Sircar also posted a tribute on Twitter, writing, “You fought and fought and fought. I will always be proud of you, we shall meet again.”

Amitabh Bachchan, another Bollywood icon, said in a tweet that Khan’s death created “a huge vacuum.”
“An incredible talent, a gracious colleague, a prolific contributor to the World of Cinema .. left us too soon,” Bachchan tweeted.

Did You Know?

Irrfan Khan and director Homi Adjania spent considerable time together in London during summer where Khan was being treated for neuroendocrine tumour.

“We used to hang out and chat about everything about the film. Irrfan is such a beautiful human being, very sensitive and aware. And, I can’t wait for those qualities to come into the film too. I have never seen Irrfan like this before in any film,” said Adjania.

Irrfan Khan Wife

It was at drama school that he also met his future wife, a television writer and producer Sutapa Sikdar. “He was always focused. I remember when he would come home, he would head straight for the bedroom, sit on the floor, and read books. The rest of us would be hanging around gossiping,” Sutapa Sikdar recalled. Irrfan Khan and his wife have two sons, Babil and Ayan.

The Last Words About Irrfan Khan

“What was unique about Irrfan was that he deconstructed the idea of the leading man of Bollywood,” says director and producer Mahesh Bhatt. “In a landscape of fast and shallow communication, it is hard to hear the quieter sound that emanates from your depths. Here was an actor who, in that landscape, made his explosive silences resonate with the Indian viewers. And it also touched the big boys in the US.”

“He knew he was something and he didn’t give it away loosely,” Ms Nair says. “He was an observer, who could harness his life into his performance. He was un­afraid to be craggy, to be handsome, to be unwashed. There was not that shitty vanity that you meet with Bollywood, the man with the mirror.”

Irrfan Khan Timeline - Forbes India
Irrfan Khan Timeline – Forbes India

Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan Biography and Profile

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