Bollywood star Irrfan Khan, best known in America for appearing in the films Slumdog Millionaire and Jurassic World, died in Mumbai on April 29, 2020. He was 53.
Khan’s cause of death came from complications following a colon infection, according to Gulf News. In 2018, the Indian National Award-winning actor announced that he had been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor, the Hindustan Times reported. Neuroendocrine tumors are a rare form of cancer that affects how the endocrine glands produce hormones, cells which inform the body’s metabolism, growth, and mood, according to Yale Medicine.
While Khan was forced to take a break from acting following his diagnosis, he was able to return to making movies this past year. His most recent film, Angrezi Medium, was released in March. However, the Life of Pi star suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized on Tuesday. His publicist confirmed, “Yes, it’s true that Irrfan Khan is admitted to ICU to Kokilaben [Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital] in Mumbai because of a colon infection. We would keep everyone updated. He is under doctor’s observation.”
The news of Khan’s death was then confirmed by his publicist on Wednesday, who put out the following statement:
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. Surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about, he left for heaven[ly] 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 …, ‘As if I was tasting life for the first time, the magical side of it.’
Khan is survived by his wife, Indian film producer and screenwriter Sutapa Sikdar, and their two sons, Babil and Ayan.
Here’s what you need to know about Irrfan Khan:
1. Khan Took a Year Off From Acting Following His Cancer Diagnosis in 2018
The actor, who starred alongside Tom Hanks in Inferno and Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart, told Gulf News that he was completely surprised when he was first diagnosed with cancer. However, Khan kept his spirits up.
After undergoing extensive treatment in London, he returned to making films in February 2019, according to NDTV. He starred in the March 2020 release Angrezi Medium, during which Khan said he kept thinking of a certain uplifting Hindi song to keep him going, Gulf News reported: “I tell life: ‘Lag Jaa Gale Ki Phir Yeh Haseen Shaam Ho Naa Ho, Shayad Is Janam Mein Mulaqaat Ho Na Ho’ – which translates in English, “Embrace and hug life, for you 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.”
2. Khan Earned a Full Scholarship to the National School of Acting in New Delhi
Khan was born Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan in Jaipur, Rajasthan, on January 7, 1967. He has two brothers, Imran and Salman. After earning a scholarship to the National School of Acting in New Delhi in 1984, he made his film debut with a brief cameo in Mira Nair’s Oscar-nominated film Salaam Bombay and had worked consistently ever since. In India, Khan was famous for appearing in numerous box office hits such as Paan Singh Tomar, Haider, Gunday and Hindi Medium.
Stateside, he starred in the film version of Jhumpa Lahiri’s best-selling novel The Namesake and was nominated for a BAFTA Award for his work in The Lunchbox. Khan also starred on Showtime’s critically acclaimed drama series, In Treatment.
3. Khan was Unable to Attend His Mother’s Funeral Earlier This Month Due to Coronavirus
The actor’s mother, Saeeda Begum, died in Jaipur on Saturday, April 25, according to NDTV. Due to coronavirus and social distancing guidelines, he could only attend the funeral via video from Mumbai. Begum was 95.
When Khan died Wednesday, his wife and two children were by his side at the hospital, Gulf News reported.
4. Khan Had Two Films In Pre-Production Before He Died
Prior to his death, Khan was attached to star in two upcoming films, The Wicked Path, and Takadum, according to IMDb. His last film, Angrezi Medium, was released a week before India shut down due to coronavirus. The movie was a sequel to Hindi Medium, which was one of India’s most successful films in 2017.
5. Tributes to Khan’s Award-Winning Film Career Filled Social Media
According to Khan’s IMDb page, he appeared in over 100 Bollywood films and successfully made his way into American cinema. In addition to his breakthrough stateside in eight-time Oscar Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, he starred alongside Natalie Portman and Bradley Cooper in New York, I Love You, The Amazing Spider-Man and was adult Pi in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.
Amitabh Bachchan, who co-starred alongside Khan in Piku, shared the following tribute on Twitter:
Indian filmmaker Karan Johar tweeted, “Thank you for those indelible movie memories….thank you for raising the bar as an artist …thank you for enriching our Cinema….we will miss you terribly Irrfan but will always always be immensely grateful for your presence in our lives…..our cinema….we salute you.”