There was something about Irrfan Khan, I can’t figure what, that made him so real in movies. It was almost like watching someone you know.
His characters seemed like they could have easily been our neighbours, friends or lovers and that if you really tried, you could touch them through the screen.
We will never have the pleasure to do that now, but we can look back at his amazing journey. Here are some of the roles imprinted in our hearts forever by his genius craft.
Rana from Piku who forgave easily, loved subtly and when cared enough, could go any distance to make things work. Literally.
Very different from Saajan, who collected lunchboxes from an unknown woman and fell for her just by reading and writing letters – teaching us that love does, in fact, exist in small details.
And then there was Monty, who could be obnoxious sometimes but was unbelievably selfless, encouraging and had an enviable passion for life.
As Ashoke Ganguli in The Namesake, he taught his family, and us viewers, valuable lessons of life.
Meanwhile Roohdar from Haider personified ‘ghost from the past’ who comes and changes everything forever. Like rooh, his presence was in everything, it’s just that he wasn’t visible.
Irrfan’s most beautiful performance (if there could be such a thing), was in Maqbool where he played the lead. A character torn between love and duty, finally succumbs to guilt and meets an unfortunate end.
And it was only him who could transform everything from body language to dialect for the role of a runner named Paan Singh Tomar, who eventually turns into a rebel you find yourself rooting for.
Irrfan made everything believable. For instance, we didn’t flinch once as he decided to help his friend take a dead body across cities and states in Karwaan because it’s the right thing to do. We bought it, we enjoyed it.
Just like we bought that a wealthy man would go to live in a 1-bedroom-house so that he can fake being poor for the sake of his daughter’s admission in a good school. With Hindi Medium and later Angrezi Medium, he showed us the lengths parents can go for their kids even as they ache and remember their childhoods constantly.
From an ever-supportive friend in Billu Barber.
To a twisted lover in 7 Khoon Maaf…
From a powerful student leader Ranvijay in Haasil.
To a quirky Yogi in Qarib Qarib Single.
And RAW agent Wali Khan D-Day.
Irrfan got the nuance of every role, whether it was small or big.
“Ek Doctor Ki Maut” 💔💔#IrrfanKhan …. you’ll live forever in my memories. ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/ntanY1C51X— Shristi 💔💔 (@Caffeinated__Me) April 29, 2020
As Pi Patel in Life of Pi, he told us what’s really worth living for and what a person regrets the most in the end.
And as a police inspector in Slumdog Millionaire, portrayed what actually goes on behind the bars.
He played the role of Rajit Ratha in The Amazing Spider-Man.
Harry Sims in Inferno.
And Simon Masrani in Jurassic World, becoming the first popular Indian personality in Hollywood, and as he passes away, the entire world mourns the loss.
Though what we will keep going back to, is the ‘letter man’ from Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay, his first movie ever.