Irrfan Khan: Indian actor dies at 53 after battle with cancer | News | DW | 29.04.2020
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Irrfan Khan: Indian actor dies at 53 after battle with cancer

The Bollywood star was among the first Indian actors to make a consistent mark in Western cinema and had appeared in several Hollywood pictures, including "Life of Pi" and "Slumdog Millionaire."

Indian film star Irrfan Khan has died at the age of 53 after a prolonged battle with cancer, his publicist said on Wednesday.

"Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him," his publicist said in a statement.

Khan's international movie career included Hollywood hits such as Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Alongside Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth and Om Puri, Khan was among the first line of Indian actors to leave a mark in Hollywood and Anglo-American cinema.

Irrfan Khan of 'Puzzle' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2018

Irrfan Khan, here at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, also enjoyed a career outside India

"I never knew I would be so sad — I felt a punch in my heart," Adil Hussain, who was in Life of Pi with Khan, told DW. "He was able to express himself with the utmost vulnerability and where he embodied the character in a wholesome way to give access to the audience to look at his soul."

Long illness

The actor, who was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor in 2018, was admitted to Mumbai's Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital earlier this week with a colon infection.

After revealing he had been diagnosed with the tumor in 2018, Khan received extensive treatment and recovered well enough to shoot Angrezi Medium, the film which would turn out to be his last, and whose release this March was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Guardian reported.

Breaking into mainstream cinema

He was born Saahabzaade Irfan Ali Khan in Jaipur, the son of a tire seller, and went to drama school after failing as a cricketer.

The now globally acclaimed Hollywood and Bollywood actor struggled to make headway in the film industry in his early days, only finding regular work in small TV soap operas.

Khan's breakthrough role came with the feature debut of then-unknown British director Asif Kapadia, whose 2002 low-budget film The Warrior was shot in India.

The Warrior went on to win the BAFTA award for best British film and was selected for the prestigious San Sebastian film festival.

Khan subsequently broke into mainstream films and alongside Bollywood, maintained a career in British and Hollywood cinema.

"He will be remembered as one of the finest actors in India, for sure, and for his contribution to world cinema, as well," said Adil Hussain. "He will remain as one of the most revered actors, most respected actors. He's going to be an inspiration to new kind of actors in India to portray roles with a lot of realism, which generally wasn't the case in the so-called Bollywood film industry." 

mvb/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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