Irrfan Khan, the Indian-born actor who achieved considerable success in both Bollywood and the west, has died aged 53. He had been admitted to the intensive care unit of Mumbai’s Kokilaben hospital on Tuesday with a colon infection.
In March 2018, he revealed he had been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour, but after extensive treatment he recovered well enough to shoot Angrezi Medium, the film which would turn out to be his last, and whose release this March was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Best known to English-speaking audiences as the police inspector in Slumdog Millionaire, Khan was also a Bollywood mainstay, acting in hits such as Haider and Hindi Medium.
Khan was born Saahabzaade Irfan Ali Khan in Jaipur in 1966, the son of a tyre seller, and went to drama school after failing as a cricketer.
He struggled to make headway in the film industry, despite being cast in a small role as a letter writer in Mira Nair’s 1988 Salaam Bombay! – to his frustration he only managed to find regular work in low-grade TV soap operas. “I came into this industry to tell stories and do cinema and I was stuck in television,” he told the Guardian in 2013.