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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.I.P. Bollywood icon and international film star Irrfan Khan

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Bollywood icon and international film star Irrfan Khan
Photo: Christopher Polk (Getty Images)

Irrfan Khan, the Bollywood mainstay who was known internationally for his roles in cinematic tentpoles Slumdog Millionaire and Life Of Pi, has died. Per The Guardian, he was admitted to the hospital in Mumbai due to a colon infection. Khan’s representative confirmed his death in a statement: “It’s saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away. Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him.” He was 53 years old.


Born in Rajasthan, India, Khan jump-started his film career over 30 years ago with a small role in the Hindi-language drama Salaam Bombay! Thought the quick appearance was edited out of the final product, it was enough to propel him towards his next film the following year, where he starred opposite Roopa Ganguly in Kamla Ki Maut. He continued to appear in a number of critically beloved movies over the course of a decade, paving a path to his first international hit The Warrior from London-based director Asif Kapadia. The drama’s participation in international festivals introduced Khan to a global audience and inspired him to continue pursuing a film career.

In 2005, Khan received his first Bollywood leading role with Rog, beginning a prolific career that would cement him as a cultural icon (and a busy one, at that: while appearing in films he maintained a steady TV career). Three years later he would appear as the police inspector in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, which garnered both a more fervent interest at home and lingering Hollywood attention. He would further diversify his impressive roster of credits with a number of stateside titles, gaining supporting roles in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man and Life Of Pi, as well as 2015's Jurassic World.

Colleagues and fans continue to mourn the loss of a man who was often praised for his layered performances, adaptable talent, and charismatic, down-to-earth charm. He is survived by his wife and two songs.