A true testament of talent, Irrfan Khan is living proof that ability and passion can put you on the global stage far more than hollow star power. He is no doubt one of Hindi cinema’s best actors, which has resulted in his ever-growing stardom in Bollywood, and more recently Hollywood.
His simple charisma and courage to take on increasingly gutsy and challenging roles, has made him one of our most elite and respected performers. He has always tried to push boundaries and do meaningful cinema, ever since his earliest roles in films like Haasil. Unfortunately, he’s only truly been recognised for his work and ability in the last decade, with the industry and audience playing catch up. It ironically took acclaim from the west for him to be truly taken seriously in Bollywood, with films like the Lunchbox finally giving him the recognition he deserves. Not to mention proving he really is the biggest Khan at the box office with the global success of Jurassic World.
On 22nd July his next venture, Madaari, a high suspense thriller co-starring Jimmy Shergill, is due to release, not to mention his upcoming Hollywood blockbuster across Tom Hanks in Inferno. Join us as we look at some of our favourite, and most game-changing roles of Irrfan Khan.
The film that started him on his trajectory as a fine performer, suffice to say Haasil is an important film in Khan’s career. It was the first time he got critically and commercially recognised for his work and was awarded the ‘Filmfare’ award for ‘Best actor in negative role’. It has since been considered a major cult hit of the time.
Life in a…Matro (2007)
In spite of the wealth of stars, Irrfan managed to stand out and make a real impact in his role alongside Konkona Sen Sharma, and really cemented his versatility as an actor.
An adaptation of the Macbeth, Maqbool was the first of many of Khan’s celebrated collaborations with director Vishal Bhardwaj, not to mention the first of Bhardwaj’s Shakespearean trilogy which included Omkara and Haider, all of which had Khan in key roles.
Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
The film that escalated him to new heights in recognition, thus proving to the industry that there is something distinctly special about this actor. Khan not only carried the biopic of the troubled Indian athlete, Paan Singh Tomar but managed to garner rave reviews from all corners, winning the National Award for Best Actor, as well as Best Film.
Life of Pi (2012)
Prior to Life of Pi, Khan had managed to play various supporting roles in projects such as Slumdog Millionaire and The Amazing Spider-Man, but with Life of Pi he had his face on a huge global blockbuster, and established a strong name for himself in the West.
Irrfan’s strong form continued, playing the conflicted undercover agent in the action thriller D-Day, the rebirth of director Nikhil Advani, also featuring Arjun Rampal, Huma Qureshi and Rishi Kapoor. To this D-Day is a gold standard in political thrillers for its tense plot and mature storytelling.
The Lunchbox (2013)
Essential viewing in so many ways, The Lunchbox not only played a key role in Hindi Cinema being taken seriously globally and made a strong statement about the ‘India indie scene’, but also launched the career of the wonderful Nimrat Kaur. The simple love story of two lonely strangers who find such unexpected comfort in each other was infinitely relatable. The film was recognised internationally and was nominated for a BAFTA award (British Academy Film Awards).
Khan completely turned his ‘intense’ image on its head with this simple, slice of life comedy with a stellar cast of Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan. With Piku, Khan proved yet again that there are many shades to him which haven’t been explored onscreen. Piku was not only one of the best films of 2015 but also played a key role in redefining mainstream cinema.
Jurassic World (2015)
Cementing his position as a Hollywood star, Jurassic World had him setting the global box office on fire proving without a shadow of a doubt that he is the real king Khan at the box office. He now has parts in major Hollywood productions written specifically for him! A major achievement by any Indian actor, and something the nation should be proud of. FYI this is the fourth highest grossing film of ALL time, $1.6 billion.
One of the best films of 2015, certainly our top pick, Talvar was unendingly important for every Indian to watch, to be educated on the sad state of the justice system in the context of the unfortunate Aarushi Talwar case. Khan was solely responsible for adding a cinematic and entertaining element to a dark and difficult film about one of the most famous murder investigations, or lack thereof.
What’s to come:
A suspense thriller from director Nishikant Kamat, due to release on 22nd July, we eagerly anticipate the release just to see what this man will do next!
Khan continues his Hollywood blockbusting with an adaptation of Dan Brown’s Inferno, continuing director Ron Howard’s Robert Langdon series of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons , alongside Tom Hanks. Inferno is one of the most anticipated films of the year. It is due to be released on October 28th and we can’t wait!
So here’s to the man who has one hell of a legacy behind him, amongst the greatest of any living Indian actor, and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.