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‘You cannot reduce the power of story with the tag of money because it’s not a share market. So you must know the seriousness of the power of storytelling’.

One of the many quotes by a person who is synonymous to fine acting, Indian cinema, screen power and not just getting into a character but also being the reason for that character being etched in our memories, Irrfan Khan. He is a talented powerhouse of acting that brings alive any character that he plays on screen with his expressions, body language and amazingly effortless acting skills. Irrfan Khan dialogue delivery is like only he could’ve pulled them off.

We take you on a quick journey through the life of this great artist through some lesser known facts about him:

1. Birth in a royal family

Irrfan Khan was born to a Muslim Pathan family on 7th January 1967 in Jaipur, Rajasthan. His father was the late Jagirdar Khan from village Khajuria near the Tonk district. His mother, Begum Khan belonged to the Tonk hakim family. Irrfan Khan’s father ran a tyre business.

Irrfan Khan Childhood Picture

2. Irrfan real name is Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan.

About Irrfan Ali Khan

3. Not a planned career

Getting into films was not what Irrfan Khan had planned for. He was interested in a career in cricket, however, his parents were not too keen on it. It was after he earned a scholarship in NSD that he took to making a career in acting.

Young Irrfan Khan

4. Education

While studying for his MA degree, he earned a scholarship to study at National School of Drama (NSD) in 1984. He has a Diploma in Dramatic Arts.

Irrfan Khan at NSD

5. First job in Mumbai

When he arrived in Mumbai, he started working as an air condition repair man. It is even said that one of first houses he visited for repairing services was that of the legend Rajesh Khanna.

irrfan khan air condition repair

6. Debut in Salaam Bombay

He debuted in the year 1988 in the Academy Award nominated movie Salaam Bombay. He was then in his final year at NSD; however his role was shortened as his height was being an issue.

Irrfan Khan in Salaam Bombay

7. Marriage and family

Irrfan Khan got married to writer and fellow NSD student Sutapa Sikdar on February 23rd 1995. Apart from his pillar of strength, his wife, he has two sons, Babil and Ayan.

Irrfan khan married Sutapa Sikdar

8. Wanted to give up acting at one point of time

At one point of time in his career he was majorly doing televisions shows and none of the films that he acted in proved to be successful. It became very monotonous for him and it drove him to almost give up on acting. However, acting in The Warrior, made by Asif Kapadia, made him change his mind.

Irrfan Khan facts

9. Instant moment of fame

A historical film, The Warrior, in which he played the lead role, when opened to International films festivals in 2001 gave him an instant fame and he became a well known face in the film world.

Irrfan Khan The Warrior

10. He landed his first role as a lead actor in a commercial movie for Rog in the year 2005.

Facts about Irrfan Khan

11. The ‘R’ emphasis

The additional ‘r’ in his name Irrfan is not because of numerology as commonly perceived. He got his name changed in 2012 by adding an extra ‘r’ only because he liked the sound of it.

Life of Irrfan Khan

12. One of the tallest in industry

Irrfan Khan is a well gifted man in terms of height. He is about 6 ft 1 inch tall. So he very well fits into the category of Amitabh Bachhan and the likes.

Irrfan Khan Height
Celebrity Heights

13. Irrfan is known over the world for not only his exceptional work in the Indian cinema but also British cinema and Hollywood.

During an interview in 2014 with a Hollywood reporter for his upcoming film ‘Jurassic World’ (2015), Irrfan said,

“I’m playing the park owner, a very flamboyant person in the film. When the first Jurassic Park came out, I barely had the money to see it, and now I’m playing a part. My character is trying to entertain the world with good intentions, but sometimes being flamboyant doesn’t mean having much wisdom.”

Irrfan Khan Life

14. Refused a movie to Christopher Nolan in 2014

When Hollywood film director offers you a role and you turn it down, it is a big deal and difficult decision. And Irrfan Khan did just that when Noan offered him a substantial role in the movie ‘Interstellar’ as the former was already committed to two of his projects, Lunch Box and D Day.

Irrfan Refused Nolan Interstellar

15. The Julia Roberts incident

Getting a compliment for your acting from a great Hollywood personality is not a small thing. For Irrfan Khan, the lucky moment happened during one of the Oscars nights. He got a chance to meet Julia Roberts and was surprised at the compliments she offered to him. She told him that she loved his acting in ‘The Namesake’.

Irrfan Khan at Oscar

16. Irrfan has a unique wish

One of Irrfan Khan’s wishes from early days has been to gift his mother a suitcase full of cash just like how they do in movies.

Interesting things about Irrfan Khan

17. When his name got him into trouble

Irrfan Khan was detained at a US airport, like Shah Rukh Khan, simply because his name is similar to a 33 year old terrorist’s.

Unknown Facts about Irrfan Khan

18. Global gone great!

He is one such actor who has joined the likes of many stars who have not just acted in their home cinemas but have done exceptional work globally. Apart from Indian cinema he has also worked in many successful Hollywood projects and has been appreciated all the way.

Secrets about Irrfan Khan

19. Perfectionist of sorts

His wife Sutapa Sikdar narrates that when he was directing the episodes of Banegi Apni Baat, he asked for around 11 rewrites from her until he was fully convinced with the final one.

Irrfan Khan with wife

20. First Bollywood actor in two Academy Award winning movies

Irrfan Khan is the first actor from the Indian film industry who was a part of cult movies, Slumdog Millionare (2008) and Life of Pie (2012), both Academy Award winners.

irrfan khan life of pi

21. His Lunchbox won Critics Week Viewers Choice Award at Cannes Film Festival

Irrfan’s Lunchbox was one of the very few Indian movies to have won Grand Rail d’Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. This was in the year 2013.

Irrfan Khan in The Lunchbox

22. List of awards

Among many of the awards that he has bagged, some notable ones are mentioned below

• National Film Award for the best actor in the 60th National Film Awards 2012 and a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for his role in the movie Paan Singh Tomar.

• In 2014 he won the Asian Film Award for Best Actor.

• He has won three International Indian Film Academy Awards, three Filmfare Awards and an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

• The latest award in his kitty being the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for the movie Hindi Medium in 2017.

Irrfan Khan wins best actor at Asian Film Awards

23. Padma Shri recipient

In the year 2011, Irrfan Khan received the Padma Shri, fourth highest civilian honor in India, for his contribution to the field of arts.

Irrfan Khan receiving Padma Shri

24. Irrfan Khan died at the age of 53

Few days after Irrfan lost his mother he was admitted to Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital where was under observation for colon infection. Irrfan passed away on 29th April, 2020.

The news was broken by his friend and director Shoojit Sircar on Twitter.

Irrfan Khan death news
Shoojit Sircar/Twitter

Having bagged many awards for his various impeccable performances, he still remains a humble and down to earth human being. And this also reflects in his method of acting. From playing different characters from all walks of life flawlessly to making a mark for himself in the international film industry, he has done it all brilliantly. Irrfan Khan is an actor who the Indian audience has appreciated widely since years and the young actors have taken inspiration from; and continue to do so.


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