BOLLYWOOD: Acclaimed Indian actor Irrfan Khan, whose international movie career included hits such as “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Life of Pi” and “The Amazing Spider-Man”, has died aged 53, his publicist said Wednesday.
The Bollywood star, who was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour in 2018, was admitted to a Mumbai hospital earlier this week with a colon infection.
“Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him,” his publicist said in a statement.
Born in the Indian desert state of Rajasthan on January 7, 1967, Khan discovered an early passion for acting and studied at the elite National School of Drama.
But his training in Shakespeare and Chekhov did little to ease his entry into the Hindi film industry, which was largely focused at the time on churning out formulaic song-and-dance blockbusters.
Even as he landed a role in 1988’s “Salaam Bombay” – directed by first-timer Mira Nair – his part was slashed to a cameo.
He sobbed for hours when he found out about the cuts and said “It changed something within me. I was prepared for anything after that,” he said.
Television roles followed, along with a handful of bit parts in Bollywood, where producers routinely dismissed him as looking too unconventional to play the lead.
By the time British director Asif Kapadia cast him as a mercenary in “The Warrior”, he was ready to quit acting, frustrated over the direction of his career.
But, in a sign of the global success that lay in wait, the 2001 film racked up awards and won Khan praise – including in India, where a new generation of directors was eager to experiment with fresh storylines.