Irrfan Khan

Irfan Khan

Irrfan at Anil Ambani's success bash
Born Sahabzade Irrfan Ali Khan[1]
(1967-01-07) 7 January 1967
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Residence Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Nationality Indian
Other names Irfan Khan
Alma mater National School of Drama
Occupation Film actor, Producer
Years active 1988–present
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) Sutapa Sikdar (m. 1995)
Children 2
Awards Padma Shri (2011)

Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan (born 7 January 1967), credited as Irfan Khan or simply Irfan, is an Indian film actor known for his work predominantly in Hindi cinema. He is also known for his work in British films, and Hollywood.[2][3] Film critics, contemporaries, and other experts consider him to be one of the finest actors in Indian cinema for his versatile and natural acting.[4][5] In 2011, Khan received the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour for his contribution to the field of arts.[6]

Khan has garnered the National Film Award for Best Actor in the 60th National Film Awards 2012, for his performance in Paan Singh Tomar.[7] Khan has won the 2014 Asian Film Award for Best Actor, three International Indian Film Academy Awards, three Filmfare Awards, an Independent Spirit Award nomination, and various international honours. He also hosted a television show and commercials. As of 2015, he had appeared in more than 50 Indian films in Bollywood, and a few international films, such as Life of Pi, New York, I Love You, The Amazing Spider-Man and Jurassic World, with a featured role alongside Tom Hanks in the 2016 adaptation of Dan Brown's novel Inferno.[8] In September, 2015, he was appointed as the brand ambassador for "Resurgent Rajasthan", a campaign by the state government of Rajasthan.[9]

Early life

Khan was born in Jaipur, Rajasthan, to a Muslim family. Khan's mother, Begum, was from the Tonk Hakim family, and his father, the late Jagirdar, was from the Khajuriya village near the Tonk district, and ran a tyre business.[10][11][12] Khan was studying for his MA degree when he earned a scholarship to study at National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi in 1984. As Khan comes from a Pathan family but is a vegetarian since childhood, his father often teased he was a "Brahmin born in the family of Pathans".[13]


Khan moved to Mumbai, where he acted in numerous television serials, including Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj, Sara Jahan Hamara, Banegi Apni Baat, Chandrakanta, Shrikant (Doordarshan), AnooGoonj on Doordarshan, Star Bestsellers (Star Plus), and Sparsh. Earlier, he had acted in a teleplay on Doordarshan named Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode where he played Lenin. It was based on a translation by Uday Prakash of a Russian play by Mikhail Shatrov. He was the main villain in a series called Darr (which aired on Star Plus), where he played the role of a psycho serial killer, opposite Kay Kay Menon. He also played the role of famous revolutionary Urdu poet and Marxist political activist of India Makhdoom Mohiuddin in Kahkashan, produced by Ali Sardar Jafri.

He acted in some of the episodes of Star Bestsellers (aired on Star-Plus). In one of the episodes (Ek Sham Ki Mulakat), his role was of a parchoon shopkeeper who has a misconception that his landlord's wife is trying to seduce him and it turns out that his own wife (Tisca Chopra) is cheating on him. In the other one, he played the role of an office accountant who, after being insulted by his female boss, took revenge. He also appeared in a serial called Bhanvar (aired on SET India) for two episodes. In one episode, he performed the role of a thug who somehow lands in court. Theatre and television kept him afloat until Mira Nair offered him a cameo in Salaam Bombay! (1988) though his role was edited out in the final film.

In the 1990s, he appeared in the critically acclaimed films Ek Doctor Ki Maut and Such a Long Journey (1998) and various other films which went unnoticed. After many unsuccessful films, things changed when London-based director Asif Kapadia gave him the lead in The Warrior, a historical film completed in 11 weeks on location in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. In 2001 The Warrior opened in international film festivals, making Khan a known face.[14]

In 2003–04 he acted in Ashvin Kumar's short film, Road to Ladakh. After the film received rave reviews at international festivals,[15] the film was being made into a full-length feature starring Khan.[16] That same year he played the title role in the critically acclaimed Maqbool, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

His first Bollywood lead role came in 2005 with film Rog. His performance was praised by critics; one wrote, "Irfaan's eyes speak louder than his words and every time he is in frame, be it talking to his buddy Manish or arguing with Suhel, he shows his capability as an actor".[17] Thereafter he appeared in several films either playing the leading role or a supporting role as a villain. In 2004 he won the Filmfare Best Villain Award for his role in film Haasil. Critics praised his performance in Haasil, saying that "as the ambitious, brash, fearless goon who is mind-blowing. He is outright scary and makes you sit up, wondering what he'll do next".[18] He also played an antagonist in the Telugu film Sainikudu.

In 2007, he appeared in the box office hits Metro, for which he received a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award, and The Namesake. His chemistry with Konkana Sen in Metro was one of the highlights of the multi-star movie. They were closely followed by his appearance in the international films A Mighty Heart and The Darjeeling Limited.

Irrfan Khan at Premiere of The Namesake with Tabu

Even after his success in Bollywood, he has continued his television career. He anchored a show Mano Ya Na Mano (airing on Star One). He hosted another programme named Kyaa Kahein which was similar to Mano Ya Na Mano.

In 2008, he was featured as a narrator in an Arts Alliance production, id – Identity of the Soul. The performance toured worldwide, with tens of thousands turning out to see the event as it toured the West Bank. He also plays the police inspector in the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, for which he and the cast of the movie won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. About him, Danny Boyle said, "he has an instinctive way of finding the "moral center" of any character, so that in Slumdog, we believe the policeman might actually conclude that Jamal is innocent. Boyle compares him to an athlete who can execute the same move perfectly over and over. "It's beautiful to watch."[19]

In 2009, he featured in the film Acid Factory. Khan has stated that he wants to do more action films in the future.[20] He also appeared as an FBI agent in New York and as a Gujarati diamond merchant in New York, I Love You. His film, Paan Singh Tomar, about real-life athlete turned dacoit. Paan Singh Tomar received extremely favourable reviews by critics.

He recently worked on the third season of the HBO series In Treatment, enacting the part of Sunil, who is finding it difficult to come to terms with his wife's death and loneliness after moving to New York.

Khan played Dr. Rajit Ratha in The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012.[21] Khan played the adult version of Piscine "Pi" Molitor Patel in the film adaptation of Life of Pi.

In 2014, Khan appeared in Gunday, which was a moderate box office success. He also made guest appearances in the films The Xpose and Haider, playing an important role in the latter. In 2015, he played the lead role in the film Piku alongside Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan. Khan co-starred in the 2015 film Jurassic World. He appeared in Jazbaa in October 2015 alongside Aishwarya Rai which was very well received by critics. He was next seen alongside Tom Hanks in the 2016 adaptation of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon thriller Inferno.[22]

Other milestones

In September 2015, he was appointed as the brand ambassador for "Resurgent Rajasthan", a campaign by the state government of Rajasthan.[9] He lent his voice to the light and sound show at the war memorial for the Indian army at Vidhan Sabha Road, Jaipur. This show portrays the valour and courage of the Rajasthani soldiers and their triumphs in battle from olden days till today.[23]

Personal life

On 23 February 1995, Khan married writer and fellow NSD graduate Sutapa Sikdar. They have two sons, Babil and Ayan.[1]

Sikdar said about him, "He was always focused. I remember when he would come home, he would head straight for the bedroom, sit on the floor, and read books. The rest of us would be hanging around gossiping." Even now, as he reads through at least one new Hollywood script a week, he believes in doing his homework, staying up till 3 in the morning, taking notes, trying to understand ways to play his character. Sikdar recalls how he would demand as many as 11 rewrites from her when he directed episodes of Banegi Apni Baat. "Once he dragged me to a police station in Mumbai to understand procedure," she recalls.[24]

Recently, he has changed the spelling of his name to "Irrfan" and has said he likes the sound of the extra "r" in his name.[25]


Civilian honors

National Film Awards
Filmfare Awards

Other awards




Year Film Role Notes
1988 Salaam Bombay! Letter writer
1989 Kamla Ki Maut Ajit
Jazeere Alfred
1990 Drishti Rahul
1990 Ek Doctor Ki Maut Amulya
1991 Pita (The Father) Dr.Sen[29]
1993 Karamati Coat Jaggu
1994 The Cloud Door Irfan
1998 Bada Din Police Inspector
1999 The Goal The Coach
2000 Ghaath Mamu / Romesh Bhagwat Dogra
2001 The Warrior Lafcadia – Warrior British-Indian film
Kasoor Public Prosecutor
2002 Pratha Priest Ninni Pandey
Kali Salwaar Shankar
Gunaah Police Inspector Digvijay Pandey
Haathi ka Anda
2003 Haasil Ranvijay Singh Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role
Dhund: The fog Ajit Khurana[30]
Footpath Sheik
Maqbool Maqbool
The Bypass Cop
2004 Shadows of Time Yani Mishra Bengali/German film
Aan: Men at Work Yusuf Pathan
Road to Ladakh Terrorist Short film
Charas: A Joint Operation Ranbhir Singh Rathore
2005 Chocolate: Deep Dark Secrets Pipi
Rog Inspector Uday Rathore
Chehraa Chandranath Diwan
7½ Phere Manoj
2006 Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota Salim Rajabali
The Film Shamim Bhai (voice over)
The Killer Vikram/Roopchand Swaroopchand Solanki
Deadline: Sirf 24 Ghante Krish Vaidya
Sainikudu Pappu Yadav Telugu film
2007 A Mighty Heart Zeeshan Kazmi, Karachi Police Chief Hollywood film
Life in a... Metro Monty Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Namesake Ashoke Ganguli Hollywood film
The Darjeeling Limited The Father
Apna Asmaan Ravi Kumar
Partition Avtar Canadian film
2008 Tulsi Suraj
Sunday Kumar
Krazzy 4 Dr. Mukherjee
Mumbai Meri Jaan Thomas
Slumdog Millionaire Police Inspector British film
Chamku Vishal Kapoor
Dil Kabaddi Samit
2009 Acid Factory Kaizar
Billu Billu/Vilas Pardesi
New York Roshan (FBI Official)
New York, I Love You Mansuhkhbai Hollywood film
2010 Right Yaaa Wrong Vinay Patnaik
Knock Out Bacchoo/ Tony Khosla
Hisss Inspector Vinkram Gupta
2011 Yeh Saali Zindagi Arun
7 Khoon Maaf Wasiullah Khan a.k.a. Musafir
Thank You Vikram
2012 Paan Singh Tomar Paan Singh Tomar National Film Award for Best Actor
Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor
The Amazing Spider-Man Dr. Rajit Ratha Hollywood film
Life of Pi Adult Piscine Molitor Patel ("Pi") Hollywood film
2013 Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns Indrajeet Singh a.k.a. Raja Bhaiyya
D-Day Wali Khan
The Lunchbox Saajan Fernandez
2014 Gunday A.C.P. Satyajeet Sarkar
Haider Roohdaar
2015 Qissa Umber Singh
Piku Rana Chaudhary
Jurassic World Simon Masrani Hollywood film
Talvar Ashwin Kumar, Central Department of Investigation (CDI) officer
Jazbaa Youhan, Suspended Cop
2016 The Jungle Book Baloo (voice) (Hindi) Hollywood film; voice in the Hindi localization
Inferno Harry "The Provost" Sims Hollywood film
Madaari Nirmal
2017 Hindi Medium
The Song of Scorpions
Doob: No Bed Of Roses Bangladeshi film (Pre-production)


Year Show Role Notes
1985-1986 Shrikant
1988 Bharat Ek Khoj
1992 Chanakya "Senapati" Bhadrashal
1993 Shesh Prashn Shivnaath, central character Komal's husband
1994 Chandrakanta "Badrinath/Somnath"
The Great Maratha Najib-ud-daula and Gulam Kadir Khan
1995 Banegi Apni Baat
1997 Just Mohabbat "Mr. Singh" a.k.a. "Psycho Singh" a.k.a. "Psycho Uncle" He plays a teacher.[31]
Jai Hanuman Maharishi Valmiki
Bombay Blue Rameez
1999 Star Bestsellers Ek Shaam Ke Mulaqaat
2004 Kyaa Kahein Host
2006 Mano Ya Na Mano Host
2009 Mtv Hero Honda Roadies 7 Himself
2010 In Treatment Sunil Raja Hindustani

Video games

Year Show Role Notes
2015 Lego Jurassic World Simon Masrani
2015 Lego Dimensions Simon Masrani


  1. 1 2 "Irrfan Khan". Archived from the original on 2013-12-08.
  2. "Irfan drops 'Khan'". Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  3. Jha, Subhash K (7 March 2012). "Irrfan drops his surname Khan". Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  4. Anderson, Ariston (10 December 2014). "'Jurassic World' Actor Irfan Khan on Upcoming Film: "It Will Be Like a Scary Adventure"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  5. Iqbal, Nosheen (25 July 2013). "Irrfan Khan: 'I object to the term Bollywood'". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  6. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  7. "60th National Film Awards Announced" (PDF) (Press release). Press Information Bureau (PIB), India. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  8. 1 2 "Local boy Irfan in Jaipur as a face of Resurgent Rajasthan". The Times of India. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  9. "Cutting across roles". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 14 February 2009.
  10. "Irrfan Khan". Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  11. O'Connor, Ashling (27 March 2007). "From Bollywood to Boston". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  12. "Irrfan Khan talks about being the odd one out". Deccan Chronicle. 29 August 2015.
  13. "I now see myself in new light: Irfan Khan". IndiaGlitz. 23 April 2004. Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  14. Kalla, Avinash (March 2003). "On the High Road To Ladakh". Archived from the original on 12 April 2003.
  15. Pais, Arthur J (7 November 2003). "Irfan Khan goes to Hollywood". Rediff. New York. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  16. "Movie Review of Rog – Irfaan bangs into commercial cinema too – Bollywood Articles". Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  17. "'Haasil' is not for everybody". 16 May 2003. Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  18. "Keeping It Real". Time. 15 February 2010.
  19. "I want to do more and more of action films".
  20. Bhushan, Nyay (28 June 2012). "'The Amazing Spider-Man' Gets Widest-Ever India Release for A Hollywood Film". The Hollywood Reporter.
  21. Singh, Prashant (15 February 2015). "Irrfan Khan to work with Tom Hanks in Inferno". Hindustan Times. New Delhi. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  22. "Irrfan Khan is the face of a special campaign for Rajasthan". 2015-10-28. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  23. "Irrfan Khan turns India's best known international actor : Profile – India Today". 22 April 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  24. "Paan Singh Tomar has become a symbol: Irrfan". IBN Live. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  25. "Kajol, Tabu, Irrfan Khan get Padma Shri". IBN Live. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  26. "OMG, Paan Singh Tomar receive awards for spreading social messages". Indian Television Dot Com. New Delhi. 24 January 2013.(subscription required)
  27. "IIFA Through the Years – IIFA 2008 : Bangkok, Thailand". IIFA. Retrieved 28 October 2015. Performance In A Supporting Role – Male: Irrfan Khan – Life In A… Metro
  28. "Pita (1991)". IMDb.
  29. Jessi (21 February 2003). "Dhund: The Fog (2003)". IMDb.
  30. "Just Mohabbat: Episode 4, from SET India official Youtube channel".
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