Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Bollywood star loved by Hollywood actor Irrfan Khan has died aged 53

Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan has died aged 53. Here biographer Aseem Chhabra charts how the actor also rose to become one among its biggest stars within the West.

In 2007 Irrfan came to ny to market Michael Winterbottom's A Mighty Heart, an investigation into the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal's South Asia correspondent Daniel Pearl.

In the midst of interviews with him and his co-stars, including Angelina Jolie, Irrfan pulled me aside and talked to me in Hindi.

He asked if anything was happening - if people recognised him and whether he had an opportunity to urge more add the West.

A Mighty Heart was Irrfan's second international project. His first, Mira Nair's The Namesake (2006) - a story about Indian American immigrants that was financed by a Hollywood studio - was still playing in some cinemas in ny et al. .

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Yes, certainly something was definitely happening, I told Irrfan.

I didn't know of the other Bollywood actor who had two films playing in US movie theatres at an equivalent time. And later that year, Irrfan was back again, playing alittle supporting role in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited.
Irrfan Khan was trained as a theatre actor in India's prestigious National School of Drama, on the other hand struggled working as a television actor.

His first big break was in British Indian filmmaker Asif Kapadia's film The Warrior (2001). The Bafta-winning film was presented in cinemas with an endorsement from late filmmaker Anthony Minghella.

By 2007 Irrfan was already a star in Bollywood, India's Hindi movie industry . He didn't need to combat projects outside India, but as an actor he was always looking to face new challenges.

His big break came subsequent year - Danny Boyle's unexpected hit film, Slumdog Millionaire.

Slumdog made overnight stars of its young leads - Freida Pinto and Dev Patel. But it also opened doors for Irrfan. He managed to urge an agent and a manager within the US and there was no looking back.

Soon he landed big-ticket projects - The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), although a rather small role, Inferno (2016) and even Jurassic World (2015).

There is a story Irrfan told the press while promoting Jurassic World. When the first Jurassic Park opened in 1993, Irrfan was a struggling television actor in Bombay (now Mumbai). He couldn't afford to shop for a ticket to ascertain the film.

Some 22 years later he played a key role during a franchise film that went on to earn $1.7bn (£1.4bn) worldwide. Irrfan suddenly became the foremost successful Indian actor to perform during a Hollywood film.

But despite other big projects within the West - he played a key role in Ang Lee's lifetime of Pi (2012) - Irrfan had to form tough decisions, whether to simply accept big Hollywood films or to figure on smaller but prestigious ones in India.

That problem arose a couple of times.

In 2015 he said no to performing on Ridley Scott's The Martian, instead choosing an enthralling romance Piku, set in Delhi and Kolkata (Calcutta).

"He was in two minds about what to try to to , and he kept asking me," Piku's director Shoojit Sircar told me once I interviewed him for the biography of Irrfan.

"I was thinking, possibly for him, who is Shoojit Sircar? He's nobody compared to a Hollywood director."

Irrfan also said no to Ridley Scott's Body of Lies (2008). And his biggest regret was missing out on Christopher Nolan's Intersteller (2014), because his smaller India-based project The Lunchbox was being shot at an equivalent time.
This is a symbol of the star Irrfan had become, especially after Slumdog Millionaire.

He could have gone by that path of A-list projects, but in 2018 he acted in his first American indie, a sweet little film called Puzzle where he played an eccentric man of means , alongside Kelly Macdonald.

The world was just opening up for Irrfan and he was in his early 50s. Then within the spring of 2018 he disclosed he was affected by a neuroendocrine tumour. Soon he left for London for treatment.

In two years of the struggle and cancer treatment, Irrfan was ready to complete one Hindi-language film Angrezi Medium (2020).

There was such a lot promise, numerous more roles to play. Fortunately, he has left behind an outsized treasure trove of films his fans can watch.