Billu Barber No More: Irrfan Khan Bids Adieu to the World
Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, an actor who broke the conventional Bollywood stereotype to make a name in international cinema, passed away at 53, on 29th April 2020 in Mumbai, due to complications from a neuroendocrine tumour. Making his first break into the silver screen with Mira Nair’s 1988 global hit ‘Salaam Bombay!’, Irrfan Khan has proven his versatility through Indian, American, and British cinema during his three-decade-long career that ended with Homi Adajania’s ‘Angrezi Medium’, released in March 2020.
Known for his dedication to the art, with an impressive ability to bring characters to life with intense originality, Irrfan was probably the first Indian actor to make a successful presence on the international stage. His filmography is rich with memorable appearances in global blockbusters such as Inferno, The Amazing Spiderman, Jurassic World, and the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi. Recently, he was also seen in the Netflix series Tokyo Trials where he expertly plays out he character of Justice Pal, an Indian on the War Tribunal,
While it was a slow start for him in Bollywood, with many years of struggle and a few notable television shows, he successfully made a name for himself in the industry as a ‘serious actor’ with adequate mass appeal. On one hand, he delved deep into characters like Saajan Fernandez in The Lunchbox and Ashwin Kumar in Talvar, while on the other, he played roles like that of Raj Batra in Hindi Medium and Billu in Billu Barber with such perfection that the audience could easily identify with the characters.
Outside the film industry, Irrfan was known as a friendly insightful man who had an exciting zest for life, driven by the desire to explore new things – be it the variety in his characters or helping others. His unexpected demise has left both celebrities and fans shocked and mourning the loss of an incredible actor as well as an inspiring personality. The gap left by Irrfan Khan in world cinema is not one that can be easily filled, as his legacy continues to grow through his work left behind.
Photograph: Instagram / Irrfan