Irrfan Khan: remembering 5 of his memorable roles

The world of cinema has been mourning the loss of Irrfan Khan, a renowned Bollywood veteran who made the jump into Hollywood blockbusters. The veteran actor passed away at the age of 53, and has left behind a litany of memorable roles.

Truthfully, there are too many to count, so we've selected five that demonstrate his remarkable range.

1. Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

Long established on the Bollywood scene, Khan became known to Western audiences with his role in Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning drama. It's a role laced with equal parts grittiness and pathos, as he plays a police inspector tasked with interrogating Dev Patel's quiz show winner.

As the circumstances surrounding Patel's winning streak become clear, the storyline unfolds like the layers of an onion, as Boyle jumbles past and present in his typically kinetic style. And although it's a relatively small role, Khan shows how to create a sense of sympathy in a somewhat brutal character.

2. Life Of Pi (2012)

A Hollywood role of greater sensitivity came Khan's way in Ang Lee's triumphant Oscar-winner. The director adapts Yann Martel's novel, which criss-crosses the divide between reality and fable in its story of a shipwrecked boy. Did Suraj Sharma's Pi Patel in fact survive on a life raft with only a fearsome tiger for company? Or is it a myth designed to illuminate greater truths about our own spiritual nature?

Khan is superb as the older Pi, who relays his story to Rafe Spall's journalist. The subtlety with which he conveys the conclusion of his tale is heartwrenching and wonderful.

3. The Lunchbox (2014)

Khan returned to his home country of India to deliver one of his best performances. The Lunchbox is a delightful drama examining the world of 'dabbawalas', people who deliver delicious homecooked lunches to office workers in Indian towns and cities.

More specifically, the movie casts light on the women who put the meals together. One such woman starts to communicate with Khan's character via notes concealed in the lunchbox itself. It paves the way for a low key yet magical story of a heartfelt connection in a sprawling metropolis.

4. Jurassic World (2015)

Khan only had a small role in the blockbusting Jurassic World, but it highlights his success in leapfrogging between the various film industries in India and America. He plays Simon Masrani, the CEO of dinosaur theme park Jurassic World who, in one of the film's more curious moments, is revealed to be the only one capable of flying a helicopter.

Of course, that doesn't bode well when the inevitable prehistoric outbreak has people running for their lives. But script implausibilities aside, the movie shows how good Khan was at doing a lot with a little. Just look at his awestruck response to the Indominus Rex hybrid, prior to it breaking out – there's a distinct sense that Masrani regrets actioning the cloning programme, but is unwilling to stop its lucrative potential. 

5. Hindi Medium (2017)

One of Khan's later roles proved to be an enormous Bollywood hit, grossing the equivalent of $45 million worldwide and breaking box office records in the process. It's a movie that demonstrates Khan's deft comic side, playing a father who moves to an elite new area of Delhi in the hope it will help his daughter enlist in a prestigious school.

It's another fine performance from a superb actor who left us at too young an age.

What was your favourite Irrfan Khan performance? Let us know @Cineworld.