Irrfan Khan, who brought a modern sensibility to recent hit films and had roles in Hollywood movies such as “Life of Pi” and “The Namesake”, died on Wednesday, aged 54.
The death, after a prolonged battle with cancer, was confirmed by a spokesman who said Khan was surrounded by family at the time.
“He fought the many battles that came with it,” the spokesman said in a statement, referring to the diagnosis of Khan’s rare cancer in 2018.
Khan was among the first Indian actors to make a consistent mark in Western cinema, following in the footsteps of crossover pioneers such as Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth and Om Puri.
Born Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan in Rajasthan, in a family with no ties to cinema, the actor recalled in interviews that as children, he and his siblings were not allowed to watch movies.
The only exception was when a visiting uncle took them to the theatre.
“An incredible talent,” said Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, among the tributes on Twitter that followed Khan’s death. “A gracious colleague. A prolific contributor to the world of cinema .. left us too soon creating a huge vacuum.”
Well-known director Karan Johar, said, “Thank you for raising the bar as an artist … Thank you for enriching our cinema… We will miss you terribly, Irrfan.”