Remembering Irrfan Khan’s Movies

Written by  Amrita Gupta

The actor who has achieved what only a few stars could manage to conquer on the two largest entertainment industry in the world, Bollywood and Hollywood were Irrfan Khan. The charismatic actor went too soon at the age of 53 after diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour followed by colon infection. 

With the actor’s wide-eyes and profound intellect, Irrfan Khan was one of the finest actors in the industry who broke caste, class, and religious barriers through his acting style to reach out to the audience and confirmed an exceptional space in their heart eventually. As many have realized and expressed the same about Irrfan Khan’s demise is like a very personal loss to them.  

In his 30 years long filmography record, the actor has given many glorious performances in both Bollywood and Hollywood movies. The actor has rendered some brilliant works in films like The Warrior, Maqbool, Paan Singh TomarPiku, Namesake, and many other gems in Bollywood. The global audience equally loved Irrfan Khan’s Hollywood journey after releasing the award-winning academy film The Slumdog Millionaire, and it was just his debut in Hollywood.  

Here are some best films that Irrfan left behind as his legacy to the audience and movie buffs across the world- 

Maqbool: 2004 

Irrfan Khan’s debut film was Salaam Bombay in 1988 with a minimal role. In 2001 the actor was starring in a British film, The Warrior in 2001. But the struggling period of the actor was not over by then. In 2004, Maqbool had his breakthrough in Bollywood.  

Maqbool was a crime drama based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth featuring Irrfan Khan on the lead under Vishal Bhardwaj’s directorial. This film has achieved global recognition for the cast and the director despite not doing well in box-office. Vishal Bhardwaj was convinced for the young actor Irrfan Khan back then after watching his performance in the film Haasil which has released in 2003. The director did not regret his decision finally, and a young NSD graduate got the chance to share the screen with other alumni like Pankaj Kapur, Om Puri, Naseer & Piyush Mishra.  

Maqbool is a complex epic themed on loyalty, guilt, and betrayal, and Irrfan was careful as it was his first romantic flick. The director even arranged a workshop before the shoot, which was a great help for the youngster back then. About the casting of Irrfan in Maqbool, another actor Naseer once said the decision was a masterstroke.  

The Namesake: 2006 

The Namesake was another unique presentation by Irrfan Khan, which has released in 2006 under Mira Nair’s directorial. It was drama film in English language. The story of Ashoke (Irrfan Khan) and Ashima Ganguli (Tabu), who are first-generation immigrants to the United States from the East Indian state of West Bengal. The story leads towards the struggle of the couple as immigrants and the various chronical that followed their next generation in overseas from facing cross-culture to explore Indian tradition by their American born children.  

The Namesake is based on the original story of Jhumpa Lahiri, which was released in the US in 2007 following different international film festivals. The movie earned many praises by the American critic.  

The Life of Pie: 2012 

In this adventure drama film Life of Pie under Ang Lee’s direction, Irrfan Khan plays an adult character of Piscine ‘Pi’ Patel, who depicts the whole story based on the realization of life and death. One of the epic dialogues from this movie of Khan was that in the end, one realized that the whole life act is actually about letting go, but it hurts the most when one cannot get time to say goodbye when the moment takes place.  In 2012, Irrfan Khan also appeared in another biggy, The Amazing Spider-Man.  

Paan Singh Tomar: 2012 

Paan Singh Tomar is one of the iconic films by Irrfan khan, which is a biographical film based on the real story of an athlete who was a soldier in the Indian army and a gold medal winner at the Indian National Games. In the journey of the athlete, he has forced to turn into a rebel against the system.  

This movie achieved global critical acclaimed, as many critics explained this movie is a flawless and utterly gripping film which was directed by Himanshu Dhulia. To understand the challenge a versatile actor can attempt to render such a compelling presentation on the silver screen, Irrfan Khan’s Pan Singh Tomar is one of the brightest examples for that. This movie received the Best Feature film in 2012, 60th National Film Award in Best Actor category. 

The Lunch Box: 2013 

The other actors in Bollywood often choose to dazzle the screen with a glamorous role in their movies. But, Irrfan Khan has proved that a non-glamorous part can also conquer the heart of people like Lunch Box in 2013 is one of such epistolary romantic film. A soulful, passionate exchange between a wife who is seeking attention from his husband and a widower who is at the end of his job life and how their chemistry went through several reality check incidents in it.  

Lunch Box was Irrfan Khan’s highest-grossing Bollywood film till Hindi Medium. This movie had nominated in English Language category for Best Film in 2015 British Academy Film Awards ceremony.  

The Slumdog Millionaire: 2008 

The award-winning academy film, Slumdog Millionaire, gave global exposure to Irrfan Khan overnight. Though, the actor already appeared in English Language movies earlier in The Warrior in 2001 and The Darjeeling Limited in 2007. In the film TSM, Irrfan khan played the role of a police inspector, and the global audience recognized the spark of a master actor in it.  


In Treatment: 2010 

In Treatment, is so far the only TV series where Irrfan Khan was included. About this series, Khan once said in an interview that the series is a unique program, and he can not specify this as cinema, tv-series or theatre as the director does not take liberties with space and time.   

Haider: 2014 

Haider is the third installment of a Shakespearean trilogy by Vishal Bhardwaj. Irrfan played the protagonist in the film, who desired revenge over his father’s death. This movie is the perfect example of how a personal interest turns into political violence with the time of aggression. Irrfan khan also played in the first installment of this trilogy in Maqbool.  

Jurassic World: 2015 

About this movie, Irrfan once said in an interview that when the original Jurassic Park was released back in 1993, it was his last struggling period, and the actor could not avail of the ticket. However, he was very eager to watch the film. Finally, it is an irony where Khan is playing the owner of Jurassic Park in the movie after 22 years.  

Inferno: 2016 

Inferno is the sequel of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. On its third installmentIrrfan Khan landed up in this action mystery-thriller under Ron Howard directorial.  

Hindi Medium: 2017 

Hindi Medium is a comedy-drama about one of the fundamental problems for Indian parents who wants the admission of their child to an elite school. Still, eventually, the family went through several hilarious incidents for belonging from the Hindi language culture. This movie has some clear messages to the audience under the laughter wrapped package, which was gracefully performed by Irrfan Khan. It is one of the highest-grossing films of Irrfan khan after Lunch Box.  

English Medium: 2019 

It was the last work of Khan, which was supposed to release at the theatre on 13th March. Due to the pandemic, the movie finally released on the virtual platform. Irrfan Khan could not attend any promotional tour for this film and left a heart-wrenching voice clip for the audience for this movie, which he has done with so much care as he said in the message while struggling with cancer from the hospital.  

Despite the above recommendation, many other movies were graced by the skilled full acting by the actor such as PikuMadaariKarwaanQarib Qarib Single, D-Day, & Saat Khoon Maaf, Life in a Metro, Knock Out. Cinema world will surely miss this gem of actor who could have given more to this industry.