Irrfan Khan, 'Life of Pi', 'Slumdog Millionaire' and Bollywood Star, Dead at 53

Bollywood star Irrfan Khan, known internationally for his roles in Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire and Jurassic World, died Wednesday, his representatives said. He was 53. "It's saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away," read a statement from Khan's PR agency, Hardly Anonymous Communications, according to multiple outlets. "Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought til the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him."

One of India's best-known and beloved actors, Khan revealed in March 2018 that he had been diagnosed with a rare neuroendocrine tumor — an abnormal growth that begins in the body's specialized neuroendocrine cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. This week, Khan was admitted to the ICU in Mumbai's Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital due to a colon infection, his PR agency said.

irrfan-khan_getty-Larry Busacca : Staff
(Photo: Larry Busacca / Staff / Getty, Getty)

Khan's death comes a week after his mother died, although he was unable to attend her last rites owing to India's ongoing nationwide coronavirus lockdown restricting people's movements, the agency said. Khan is survived by a wife and two children.

Upon the news of his death on Wednesday, fans, politicians and other Bollywood figures immediately lit up social media with tributes and messages of condolences. India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, wrote: "Irrfan Khan's demise 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." Other prominent politicians, like Home Minister Amit Shah and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, also shared condolences.

"The charisma you brought to everything you did was pure magic," tweeted Indian actress Priyanka Chopra. "Your talent forged the way for so many in so many avenues.. You inspired so many of us. [Irrfan Khan] you will be truly missed. Condolences to the family."

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Born in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, Khan attended the National School of Drama in New Delhi, starting his acting career soon after. For more than a decade, he played mainly supporting and character roles before breaking into leading roles in the early 2000s, starring and winning his first award for the 2004 film Haasil. Nationwide recognition came the following years with roles in award-nominated and winning films like Life In A...Metro and The Lunchbox.

But he rose to international fame when he played a police inspector in Slumdog Millionaire, which won eight Academy Awards and seven BAFTA Awards. "I never knew it was going to be popular worldwide in such a big way, with the Oscars and all that," he said in a 2015 interview with CNN. After that, his stardom grew even more when he took on a starring role in Life of Pi, which also won multiple Golden Globes and Academy Awards, and played supporting roles in major US films like The Amazing Spider-Man, Jurassic World and Inferno.