Saajan Fernandes in ‘The Lunchbox,’ Ashoke Ganguli in ‘The Namesake,’ Rana Chaudhary in ‘Piku,’ and Miyan Maqbool in ‘Maqbool.’ One man, many characters, and a legacy——that is Irrfan Khan for you. A legend who raised the bar for Indian cinema with his path-breaking performances.
We first got his glimpse in Mira Nair’s Academy-Nominated film Salaam Bombay in 1988. Back then, who would have thought that this actor would one day change the dynamics of Indian cinema and star in some of the biggest Hollywood franchises?
Irrfan Khan changed our perspective on life with hard-hitting dialogues from the Academy Award-winning movie ‘Life Of Pi.’ His letters in ‘The Lunchbox’ made us believe in the power of unconventional love.
Khan’s brief yet powerful appearance as Roohdaar in ‘Haider’ made us feel the sorrow of Kashmiri Muslims. Shaukat from ‘Karwaan’ gave us a reason to believe in ourselves and let go of social barriers.
In his 3-decade-long career, Irrfan Khan gave us many films that still impact our minds and hearts. His Shayari in ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ is music to my ears. When I watch ‘The Namesake,’ his monologue still makes me cry. How can an actor be so versatile and flawless?
We have lost legendary performers like Dilip Kumar and Rajesh Khanna, who left their millions of fans heartbroken with their passing. But the pain of losing Irrfan Khan was personal to each one of his fans. More than the actor, we were mourning the great man who left us too soon.
As we remember this iconic legend, let’s have a look at some of his finest work in movies that should be on your watchlist:
“Logon ko Haq Jamana Aata Hai, Rishta Nibhana Nahi.” Now imagine this dialogue in Irrfan Khan’s voice. It will give you goosebumps. Karwaan—a heartfelt movie that didn’t get its due credit, left a lasting impression on those who watched the film.
Co-starring Dulquer Salmaan and Mithila Palkar, this light-hearted yet impactful comedy-drama is a story of three distinct personalities taking a road trip to solve a significant misunderstanding.
It remains one of Irrfan Khan’s finest works, where he steals the show with his comic timing and dialogue delivery. If you want to watch a film that brings both smiles and tears, start watching Karwaan immediately!
Available on: Amazon Prime
“Dear Ila, things are not as bad as they seem.” I watched this film in 2013, and I still resonate with this dialogue by Irrfan Khan. Who would have imagined an actor who played gangster and mafia roles in films like Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, and Yeh Sali Zindagi would pull off a Saajan Fernandes so smoothly?
Once you finish watching this film, there will be several questions you might want to ask yourself. Is life really so bad? Is it too late to start again? The Lunchbox is an unconventional love story that shows the reality of life with a provocative thought.
Want to enjoy cinema at its best? Watch this gem starring Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Nimrat Kaur.
Available on: Netflix
Paan Singh Tomar
This ain’t just a film. It’s a masterclass in acting. Irrfan Khan’s energy, powerful screen presence, and charismatic charm make it a must-watch.
His trailblazing portrayal of subedar Paan Singh Tomar, a seven‑time national champion athlete and Army jawan who became a dacoit, makes this one of his finest performances acclaimed by both critics and moviegoers.
Irrfan won a National Award for his ground-breaking acting in this film which should be on your must-watch list.
Available on: Netflix
7 Khoon Maaf
Another great film, another underrated performance. Helmed by ace filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, it is a Hindi adaptation of Ruskin Bond’s short film Susanna’s Seven Husbands starring Priyanka Chopra in the lead role.
Irrfan Khan’s short yet impactful appearance as Wasiullah Khan will leave you speechless. His transformation from a soft-spoken poet during the day to a monster at night will send shivers down your spine.
Available on: Netflix
If an actor can make you laugh in a film based on a real-life murder, then it has to be Irrfan Khan. Besides the nuanced portrayal of CBI officer Ashwin Kumar, Irrfan Khan steals the limelight in this film with his excellent comic timing.
His effortless acting, combined with the film’s intriguing screenplay, make Talvar one of the finest films of the last decade. As per Irrfan Khan, the powerful and emotional storytelling drove him to sign this film, which was among his greatest works.
Available on: Netflix, Hotstar, YouTube
We may live in a world of Shah Rukh Khan-style romance. But when you meet Rana Chaudhary from Piku, your idea of love might change. Irrfan’s character in this film is as real as it can get. Rana is a good man, but he has flaws, just like all of us.
He speaks his mind and listens to his heart, making him so relatable. With a powerful cast like Irrfan Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, and Deepika Padukone, Piku is a light-hearted film that should be watched repeatedly. In case you haven’t streamed this feel-good film, watch it already!
Available on: YouTube, SonyLiv
“Baaz chuhe pe jhapta, use utha le gaya. Kahaani sacchi lagti hai magar acchi nahi lagti. Baaz pe palatwaar hua, kahaani sacchi nahi lagti magar acchi lagti hai.” A film that sheds light on the corrupt political scenario of India, Madaari is single-handedly carried on the shoulders of Irrfan Khan.
His portrayal of Nirmal Kumar is phenomenal in every frame. He makes us angry, emotional, and at times, happy. Madaari explores the dark side of power-hungry politicians, and Irrfan’s convincing performance is the sheer force that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Available on: Zee5
Qarib Qarib Singlle
One of the most underrated films of the masterclass actor, Qarib Qarib Singlle is a celebration of life. It is a wholehearted film with a bitter-sweet message that will stay with you for a long time.
Irrfan plays the role of Yogi, a successful businessman who lives in the moment and can be lovingly annoying at times, given his loud personality and innocent mistakes.
He meets Jaya (played by Parvathy) through a dating app and decides to go on a trip to seek closure from their past relationships.
You will have to watch the film to believe how incredible each scene is, especially the overwhelming ending. This film is a breath of fresh air and should be on your list.
Available on: Netflix, Zee5
How Irrfan Khan’s legacy continues through his films?
Being a cinema enthusiast and a diehard Irrfan Khan fan, I miss looking forward to his films. It breaks my heart to come to terms with the fact that there will be no ‘new Irrfan Khan releases.’
So I go back to his old films that I love watching. His celebrated dialogues, lauded performances, unmatchable screen presence, and priceless smile make his legacy invincible.
Khan’s extraordinary work in cinema is what will keep him alive in my heart. His performances are and will be an inspiration for generations to come, and Irrfan will live through his films.