Back in 1987, one of the finest actors made his debut on the big screen with Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay!, and everyone took note of him. Irrfan Khan graced Indian cinema with his talent and charm, and left an unforgettable mark in the minds of cinema lovers. With his impassioned performances, audiences fell in love with the actor. Right from his debut and irrespective of genre, the actor brought to life emotions with the ease and panache of a veteran.

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Today, his fans are celebrating his birth anniversary. And we thought nothing is better than re-visiting a few of his lesser-known roles and talking about why he is one of the greatest actors we’ve been gifted with.

Anupam in The Goal

Released in 1999, The Goal was directed by Gul Bahar Singh. The film was inspired by a Bengali short story by Prafulla Roy where Khan essayed the role of a devoted football coach. As Anupam, he portrayed the role of a noble trainer who is sincere and enterprising, who worked to help genuine talent flourish, even at the cost of personal lapses. The exceptional camaraderie between Irrfan and child actor Tapas Dhali won a lot of appreciation.

Lafcadia in The Warrior

Another poignant performance by Khan was in The Warrior. The 2001 British film starred Khan as the protagonist Lafcadia. The actor’s phenomenal work helped the team bag the ‘Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film’ at BAFTA. He played a Rajasthani warrior who suffers between the call of duty and human conscience.

Shankar in Kali Salwar

Another one of Khan’s memorable performances is Fareeda Mehta’s Kali Salwar. Inspired by renowned author Manto’s story, Khan’s character feels like a breath of fresh air in this fantasy play-out. He plays Shankar and brings to the screen a realistic representation of life and society, and how it is evolving.

Ranvijay in Haasil

Khan’s performance in Haasil as Ranvijay is one of the most-convincing roles he did. The film went on to become a cult classic with probably the only few films where he did a negative role. Through Ranvijay Singh, the film managed to highlight little-known nuances of student politics and the ugly side of it. Khan even bagged a Filmfare Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role for this film.

Umber Singh in Qissa

Qissa is a film set against the backdrop of the 1947 Partition. Khan is seen essaying the role of Umber Singh, who within the course of the film, talks about our society’s fixation with male heirs. The actor deserves a lot of praise for this role as it can easily be declared as one of his finest performances.

Irrfan Khan passed away on April 29th, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. And while we all miss seeing him on the screen, his long-delayed film Murder at Teesri Manzil 302 recently premiered on the OTT platform ZEE5 on  December 31, 2021.

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