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On Irrfan Khan’s birth anniversary, revisit some phenomenal performances starring late veteran actor

From Paan Singh Tomar to The Namesake, Khan’s admirable portrayals in these films earned him an unshakeable place in Indian cinema.

Shilpa S
Jan 09, 2022

Irrfan Khan’s is a name that Indian cinephiles could not easily forget. The late great actor had etched his name in people’s hearts as one of the most beloved stars to come out of Bollywood, wowing audiences with his skill of authentically capturing the heart and soul of every character he played no matter how small.

After getting his start in theatre, Khan made his film debut with a minor role in Salaam Bombay! (1988). After working on several television productions and acclaimed films, Khan started to take centre stage as a leading man, quickly gaining recognition for his impeccable acting chops. The star not only has a string of Bollywood credits to his name, but has also done parts in Hollywood films as well.

So it comes as no surprise that the veteran actor’s death in 2020 came as a devastating blow to fans and the film industry as a whole. On the late star’s birth anniversary today, here is a list of some films where the star shone so bright he managed to steal every scene he was in.

Paan Singh Tomar
8.5OTTplay Rating
From a gold medal winning athlete to a feared dacoit, the real life story of Paan Singh Tomar seems to be stranger than fiction. The biographical drama traces the life of the titular protagonist from his days in the Indian army to the circumstances that led him to turn to a life of crime. Khan stars as Tomar, his authentic portrayal of the real life figure earning praise from fans and critics alike. The role earned him a National Award for Best Actor.
The Lunchbox
8.2OTTplay Rating
A charming story that starts with the quirkiest of meet cutes, The Lunchbox tells the tale of how a young housewife and a widower strike up a touching friendship. A lunchbox prepared by a young woman for her husband accidentally makes its way to an old widower on the brink of retirement. The two become pen pals, exchanging notes through the delivered lunchbox and gaining a deeper insight into each other’s lives. Khan stars as Saajan, a widower whose friendship with the young woman develops into a deep bond. Khan excels at capturing the emotional depth and inner struggles of his character, and is definitely one of the highlights of this heartwarming drama.
Hindi Medium
8.1OTTplay Rating
This 2017 film explores just how far parents are willing to go for the betterment of their children. It tells the story of a couple, Raaj and Meeta, who decide to enrol their daughter in a prestigious English medium school. When their application gets rejected the first time they pull out all the stops to ensure a place in the school for their daughter, going to outlandish lengths to ensure so. Khan stars as Raaj, the father who throws ethics out of the window for his child, his moral compass getting more and more skewed as the film progresses. The film not only offers some valuable lessons about the pedestal Indians put English medium schools on, but also has some incredible performances by the cast, led by Khan.
8.4OTTplay Rating
This mystery thriller is inspired by the real life double murder case which took place in Noida in 2008. The premise follows a thorough investigation of the case, from the perspective of different parties- the police and two sets of CBI investigators. Khan stars as Ashwin Kumar, an investigator from the Central Department of Investigation, who is called in to re-examine the case after the police have made their findings. In addition to a well structured story and premise, the film is supplemented by stellar performances by its lead cast, which includes Khan and Konkona Sen Sharma.
The Namesake
7.6OTTplay Rating
This English language film is based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel of the same name. The film is a fish out of water tale depicting the struggles of an Indian immigrant family as they try to adjust to their new lives in the United States. The parents’ struggles of letting go of their past lives become exacerbated by the antics of their rebellious teenage son, the latter wanting to have nothing to do with his roots. The film serves as a coming of age tale for both the generations this way, each having to come to terms with the reality of their present identity and past selves.

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