Irrfan Khan, a rare actor, who straddled multiple worlds, making his mark in both international and Indian cinema, in roles intense and light-hearted, died at the age of 53. Khan, son of a tire seller, a graduate of National School of Drama, didn’t elope with his career in today’s norms of nepotism or a chiselled body aided with the stereotypical standards of what defines a good looking star. His element was raw and emitted a hardworking spirit.
That being said, he wasn’t just an empowering persona onscreen, but also lived a fearless life in reality. His statements can be deemed as controversial, but he certainly didn’t lack a spine, and didn’t shy away from spitting fire. And it’s because of his honest-to-god comments, Irrfan leaves behind a legacy that is incomparable.
While promoting his film Madari in 2016, he had questioned the true spirit of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
"We have forgotten the real meaning of rituals. We have made them a tamasha (mockery). Qurbani means sacrificing something close to your heart and sharing it with others," he said at an event in Jaipur.
Today, you buy a goat from the market for sacrifice. It is something to think about, it is a matter of common sense, we all should ask ourselves how sacrificing another life earns us any goodwill," Khan added.
Besides that he also criticised Muharram stating that it is an occasion of mourning instead people take out elaborate processions. "It is very important to understand the meaning of rituals and festivals or they will be misused."
The fiery statements did received flak from Muslim clerics, to which he said that they don't scare him.
Marital rape in India
When actor Shiney Ahuja was arrested on the charges of raping his domestic help, Irrfan, in an interview with Gulf News urged Indians to address the issue of marital rape. He stated that "I think 90 per cent of married Indian women are raped at some point in their married life. You know what I mean."
Post the outrage, the portal contacted the actor again, to which he asserted, "I am not a statistician. I am not sure about the percentages. But [in] most of the marriages such things happen. They are not condemned."
"Whatever happens in front of me, I would like to raise an opinion about it. Some people are in denial. Sometimes you don't want to agree ... Sometimes you want to hide it or keep it in a closet," he added.
2016 Dhaka terror attack
Condemning the Dhaka terror attack that took place during Ramadan, Irrfan said that it "disturbed him greatly".
“When we were children, we were told not to eat without inviting the hungry to partake of our meal as well..hearing of the terror attacks in Bangladesh has led to deep unease in my heart,” the actor wrote on Twitter.
“Terrorists attack in one place, and Muslims all over the world get a bad name,” Irrfan added. “Mercy and compassion are the basis of Islam. So should Muslims stay quiet and let Islam be maligned? Or should they actively try to correct these wrong ideas of Islam?”
Irrfan's death came on Wednesday morning after news that he had been admitted to the ICU with a colon infection.
Irrfan, who was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour in 2018, is survived by his wife Sutapa and his sons Babil and Ayaan.
He returned home in 2019 and shot for "Angrezi Medium", the sequel to his 2017 hit "Hindi Medium". However, his health condition prevented him from promoting the movie, which hit the theatres in March just before the lockdown that began on March 25.