Hindi Features

On Irrfan Khan Death Anniversary, Remembering the Actor’s Most Memorable Characters

Versatility and late actor Irrfan Khan went hand-in-hand. With his expressive eyes and a smile ever so charming, Khan could never be described in one word. He was truly a star, leaving behind a trail of performances for generations to enjoy. With every role he did, he portrayed a different side of himself.


Khan, who had a phenomenal film career spanning three decades, had been battling a neuroendocrine tumour since 2018. The 54-year-old underwent treatment in the UK for a year and returned to India in February 2019 to shoot his last film, Angrezi Medium. He passed away on April 29, 2020.

Over the years, Khan has given us iconic characters to remember him by. Whether it was Ashoke Ganguly in The Namesake, Saajan Fernandes in The Lunchbox, or Miyan Maqbool from Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool, Khan’s multifaceted presence on screen will never be forgotten.

On his death anniversary, Silverscreen India brings you a list of the late actor’s most memorable characters.

Ashoke Ganguly – The Namesake

This 2006 Mira Nair film, an adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel by the same name, saw Khan play the role of a first-generation Bengali migrant in the US. A strict father and a devoted husband, Khan flawlessly played his role and delivered one of the best performances of his career in this film. Not to mention, Khan and Tabu made for an incredibly mesmerising on-screen pair.


Paan Singh Tomar – Paan Singh Tomar

This was the role that landed Khan his much-deserved National Award in 2012. Written and directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, Paan Singh Tomar is based on the true story of an Indian Olympian who turned into a dreaded outlaw. Not only was the film a hit at the box office it also earned good reception at several international festivals.


Saajan Fernandes – The Lunchbox

This Ritesh Batra film, which won the Grand Rail d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and received a BAFTA nomination, became one of the most widely-appreciated, unconventional love stories in the Hindi film industry. The story revolves around a widower named Saajan Fernandes, who forms a bond with a married woman (Nimrat Kaur) through neatly-packed lunchboxes and letters passed along with them.


Miyan Maqbool – Maqbool

Based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Khan is seen as the titular lead character who is torn between his loyalty to his mentor and his feelings for his lover. The genius of Khan is such that he perfectly brought this tragic, complex character to life. The 2004 film also stars Tabu, Pankaj Kapur, Masumeh Makhija and Naseeruddin Shah, among others.


Umber Singh – Qissa

Another brilliant character that Khan made memorable was Umber Singh in Qissa. The film follows the choices and actions of a man who is obsessed with the idea of having a son for an heir. Khan’s portrayal of a character who is far from being likeable was lauded by critics and audiences.


Rana Chaudhary – Piku

One can’t help but fall in love with Khan’s portrayal of the annoyed yet understanding Rana Chaudhary. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, the film follows taxi-cab owner and driver Rana, who goes on a road trip with Piku (Deepika Padukone) and her elderly father (Amitabh Bachchan) from Delhi to Kolkata.