BREAKING: Irrfan Khan, Renowned Bollywood Star, Dies at 53
Irrfan Khan, the Bollywood leading man who found global fame in Oscar-winning films like Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi, died Wednesday in a Mumbai hospital. He was 53.
Khan’s spokesperson confirmed the death to the New York Times. The actor had been battling a neuroendocrine tumor since 2018, and was admitted to the hospital last week, diagnosed with a colon infection. In a statement to the Times of India, Khan’s family said he was surrounded by loved ones at the time of his death.
“Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him,” the statement read, in part. “We all pray and hope that he is at peace.”
The actor, born Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, was a trained performer, studying at the National School of Drama in New Delhi and making his film debut in the Mira Nair–directed drama Salaam Bombay! in 1988. But he didn’t break out as a leading man until starring in Asif Kapadia’s 2001 drama, The Warrior, later making a splash in Bollywood with films like Haasil and Maqbool, a contemporary adaptation of Macbeth.
To international film viewers, Khan is perhaps best known for appearing in films like 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, the wrenching drama about a boy competing in the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which eventually won best picture at the Oscars. Khan also starred in critically acclaimed films like The Lunchbox, The Namesake—an adaptation of the Jhumpa Lahiri novel—and Life of Pi, Ang Lee’s 2012 adventure drama.
In 2018, the actor went public about his cancer diagnosis, quoting Gone With the Wind novelist Margaret Mitchell: “Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
“The unexpected makes us grow, which is what the past few days have been about,” he wrote in a statement. “To those who waited for my words, I hope to be back with more stories to tell.”
He remained a prolific performer and was slated to star in two upcoming films, The Wicked Path and Takadum. His most recent film, the dramedy Angrezi Medium, in which he plays a kindly widower, hit theaters in March.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi mourned Khan’s death, writing in a statement that it is “a loss to the world of cinema and theatre. He will be remembered for his versatile performances across different mediums. My thoughts are with his family, friends and admirers. May his soul rest in peace.”
Khan is survived by his wife, Sutapa Sikdar, and their two sons.