Irrfan – the popular star & an extraordinary actor

From Nikita Saha

A man in a few words, a man who touched a million hearts with his annoying eyes, and a man whose death tore our hearts apart, leaving us deprived and gutted. A bohemian actor who took on the charm of a mainstream star without letting go of his roots, this was a man who crossed nationalities and geographic boundaries to appeal to a global audience. This man was an irrfan.

Irrfan was a star performer himself and, despite his national and international fame, not a single pretentious trace in himself. For me personally it was cathartic on so many levels to see him play countless roles. He was an actor who didn’t choose his characters, but vice versa. It was the characters who chose him to be fortunately portrayed by the powerful Irrfan.

Why was his death a personal blow to us? Possibly because Irrfan was able to meticulously and diligently prove that Bollywood is not just about ancestry. He was able to prove how raw talent, hard work and dedication have their own unique sheen that no challenge can overstress. Furthermore, it was his undying love for acting that made cinema a joy for us and made us worry about losing this gem as one of our own.

Also read: “Irrfan Taught Me To Be A More Instinctive Director”: When Nikkhil Advani went to work with the great actor

Whether it was the reserved and eccentric Saajan Fernandes in The Lunchbox or the mischievous Shaukat from Karwaan, Irrfan has given each of his characters remarkable intensity, mystique and brilliance. And in a way that has left an indelible mark on people’s hearts. He was one of the few in the industry who sought and delivered incredible intellect.

As a nuanced actor, Irrfan’s honesty and infectious energy were reflected in his craft. Vulnerability, lack of imposed sophistication, and mediocrity – all of these are us, and Irrfan has represented us all in some ways through his roles. He never forgot that it wasn’t easy for him to get to this point in his life and it was what made the masses love him even more. His humility spoke to everyone. Starting with a bewitched debut came the cameo Mira Nairs Salaam Bombay (1988) Irrfan let himself be chopped off during the processing phase and did not let any hurdles stop him. He took every setback as a stepping stone towards his ultimate goal of stunning and real performance. The battle did not leave him exhausted, tired, or bitter. He was never the one to wallow in his mistakes and walked a path that others could follow – a path marked by dedication, relentless hard work and struggle, and shimmering achievement.

A winner of numerous national and international awards, Irrfan left an impressive legacy and a number of critically acclaimed work that was not limited to just Bollywood. Of the many giants in the industry, he was the one Hollywood picked. He was certainly insurmountable with a brilliant career.

Here are 5 of his legendary appearances and my personal favorites that have positioned Irrfan as the colossal powerhouse of talent:

Paan Singh Tomar

This film was a portrayal of Irrfan’s effortless excellence. In this company run by Tigmanshu Dhulia, Irrfan Paan Singh brought Tomar to life as an athlete, dacoit and husband. The story revolves around the Indian soldier who was forced to become a dacoit by challenging circumstances. When it was released, the critically acclaimed biographical drama became a breakthrough in Irrfan’s career, winning the National Award for Best Actor for its intense performance.



The film was primarily a father-daughter story in which Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone’s natural acting performances were highly valued. But Irrfan, although he was not the protagonist, was able to make his presence felt in the dramedy of life and make his viewers ask for more.

Qarib Qarib singles

Irrfan parvathy

This is a story of two middle-aged people with different personalities who meet on a dating platform, embark on a journey together, and finally discover each other in the process. Irrfan as “Yogi” is a breath of fresh air in this not so typical romantic comedy. His goofy character charmed his way into the hearts of the audience.

The lunch box


Another of his great performances, The Lunchbox, is a romantic drama that captures the threads of urban loneliness in big cities and is portrayed gushingly by Irrfan. The film was a resounding success both in India and overseas. No one could have felt the pain of loneliness as well as Irrfan and his great duet with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, another steadfast actor, was absolutely spectacular.

Hindi medium

This comical satire on the Indian education and school system has been a very successful endeavor. Irrfan amazes us with his perfect comic timing and the emotional depths that only an artist of his stature and caliber can go into. As usual, he nails it with his class action while soulfully playing the role of a man torn between his simple upbringing and the new pretentious wannabe avatar.

Irrfan’s vibrant and successful cinematic journey is a testament to his formidable acting skills, which have exceeded all box office norms. His work abroad helped further strengthen his prospects at home. Irrfan’s attitude, warmth and perfected personality, an actor par excellence, an extraordinary actor, a popular star and a beautiful person from the inside out, will always stand out from the crowd. His early departure will forever remain an injustice that is difficult to come to terms with.

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