VFX Irrfan Khan : Remembered through the lens of animators, comic artists and illustrators

Irrfan Khan : Remembered through the lens of animators, comic artists and illustrators

2020 is of no good till now! While the country is grappling with deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic, renowned Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan passed away today, 29 April, aged 53, succumbing to a two year fight with neuroendocrine tumour.

Khan was diagnosed with the tumour in 2018 and underwent treatment in the UK for a year, before returning in February 2019. He was admitted to Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital on 28 April 2020, for a colon infection. Surprisingly, his mother died four days ago on Saturday, 25 April in Jaipur whose last rites he couldn’t attend.

An actor par excellence, Khan breathed life into various memorable characters from Maqbool, to Haider, Paan Singh Tomar, The Lunchbox, Hindi Medium, Karwaan, Piku, Qarib Qarib Single, Salaam Bombay, Angrezi Medium and many others. His versatility, emotive eyes and expressions made him one of the best actors in Indian cinema. He also achieved considerable success in the West with films like The Namesake, Life of Pi, Jurassic World, Slumdog Millionaire, Inferno, The Amazing Spider-Man and so on.

His untimely demise has shocked the country as well as the foreign film fraternity. The country mourned the death of one of its beloved actors. Condolences and posts have flooded social media prompting actors, fans, politicians from across the world to express their grief at his death. Animators, comic artists, illustrators and graphic novel artists have also paid tribute to this legend through their artworks. Here are our few picks – 

Saswata and Susruta Mukherjee (Bob_Almost and Almost_Bobby) – Animators, illustrators and graphic artists

Shared the brother duo with us, “For reasons unknown we often grow a very personal bond with people we’ve never met. Irrfan Khan’s demise felt like a very personal loss. We were heartbroken when he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumor back in 2018. Today we feel so devastated. I’m sure many have felt this way. Deep down we believe an artist of his stature can never die. Wanted to express that feeling through an artwork of Roohdaar, one of our favorite characters played by him. The Lunchbox and Maqbool are two of our favorite Irrfan Khan performances.”

Mahfuj Ali (MAli’s) – graphic illustrator

Deeply saddened he said, “It’s really difficult to express my feelings in words, when I heard the news, I wished it was fake. I knew Irrfan Khan from those Sunday mornings of Chandrakantha. From there he made himself one of the finest actors ever. He had something special in his acting ability which made him very close to my heart. He made every character distinct. A romantic comedy role in life in a metro, a bandit in Paan Singh Tomar, police officer in Talvar, Maqbool, Life of Pi, all of these movies are memorable because of him. I especially like his comedies like Karwaan, Qarib Qarib Single, and of course Piku. In Piku he made us a part of that journey and we still wish to be within his car. Someone said it’s not just a star that has fallen. He is more than a star. He was a galaxy and he will be in our hearts forever.”

Aniket Mitra – Storyboard Artist

Dumbfounded at the loss, Mitra shared, “I am really at loss of words. So I let my art do the talking.” Mitra’s artwork was also shared by another legend Amitabh Bachchan on instagram.

Sourav Mukherjee – Graphic illustrator and artist

Added he, “I feel he is the most versatile and honest actor of our generation. His demise is a huge loss for the art that we call cinema. No one can match the way he delivers his lines, even the pauses with his eyes. Initially I thought of making a single portrait of him to pay my tribute then I thought a person who can pull off a ‘hopeless romantic in Qarib Qarib Single’ or ‘ a rebel in Paan Singh Tomar’ or a ‘calm yet frightening Don in Maqbool’- with equal panache, no art can justify that much in one single portrait. That’s why I chose to draw all my favourite Irrfan khan’s characters in one frame. My all-time top five Irrfan khan films will be- Billu, The Lunchbox, Paan Singh Tomar, Qissa and Maqbool.” (Order backwards from 5 to 1).

Dapoon Rai Dewan – animator at Vaibhav Studios

Dewan commented, “I’ve always been a huge admirer of Irrfan Sir and his amazing ability to diversify so effortlessly. He’s one actor who gives me something to remember him by. Be it commercial cinema or parallel, the way he slips into each of them so comfortably was something I could never tire of. I constantly watch and rewatch his performances and one liners countless times, and even enact the same with my friends. Even in his interviews, he seemed so relatable and approachable. His loss is like a loss of a relative. Like someone I knew personally is no longer there and I will never be able to see again. It’s just an extremely unfortunate turn of events.

All of his performances have stayed with me. But here are the ones I’ve rewatched countless times – Namesake, Life of Pi, Life in a Metro, Lunchbox, Dil Kabbadi and Karwaan.”

Subhadeep Roy and Shiladitya Bose (Gupi-Bagha) – Animators and illustrators

The partners stated, “Irrfan Khan’ is that name which gets us excited whenever we know that his next film is coming up. The excitement would come with a lot of hope- of seeing the man play yet another incredible character, which we would talk about or relate to, in the times to come. That hope shattered today, when he left us. He was that person who we never considered a ‘star’ or a person who’s acting, because he delved so deep into the simplest of his characters, that it seemed extraordinarily natural. We loved him as if we knew him very closely. Be it ‘Rana Chaudhary’- the Himachal Taxi Stand owner in Piku or ‘Champak’- the uncannily natural Rajasthani sweet shop owner in Angrezi Medium- Irrfan Khan always made us feel that he really exists as those characters, and maybe one day we’ll come across one of them. That is why when we illustrated ‘Pi Patel’ along with Richard Parker together on a boat, we felt that Irrfan finally went where he belonged. As Pi, when he narrated his story, he had accepted that he never got to say goodbye to the tiger that left suddenly. On that thought, we believed that today Pi Patel left us suddenly and courageously battling his ailments, only to reunite somewhere with Richard Parker. In the end, perhaps people leave like this. They leave a mark on you, to cherish forever, and one day just leave. Because goodbyes are hard, and to live inside someone as an eternal memory- that’s what makes you a legend. Take care Irrfan. Come back into a better world someday.”


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Thank You, Irrfan Khan You’ve been one of those gifted actors who has kept outdoing himself in almost every character. You’ve shown thousands of people that you really don’t need a chiseled body to be loved by fans. You’ve made people love each and every dialect that you’ve used for your characters. You’ve shown others the art of effortless acting, expressions, emotions and dialogue. You’ve proven to be one of those people who don’t need box office numbers to rise. Instead, you magically made your way into people’s hearts. You bravely fought the burdens on your health, till your last breath, and marked yourself a Legend. The only bad thing you did, was leave us suddenly, forever. But perhaps, you deserve a much better place to be in now. Rest in Peace. You will live in us for eternity. #irrfankhan #lifeofpi #restinpeace #ripirrfankhan #tribute #legendofcinema #artwork #missyou #gonetoosoon #richardparker

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Satrajit Choudhury – Comic Artist at Comics by Satra

Griefstricken Choudhury noted, “Irrfan Khan’s demise is the greatest loss of the decade, for Indian as well as world cinema. Irrfan was one of the rare actors who would light up the screen even without a single dialogue. My favourite films of this magnificent actor are Maqbool, Haasil and Namesake.

Rohan Chakraborty – Comic Artist at Green Humour

“He has been one of my favourite method actors. I have always seen him as India’s answer to Daniel Day Lewis. A lot of his fans would reminisce about his more notable performances like Paan Singh Tomar and Life of Pi at this time, but for me his brief but mighty performance as Roohdar in Haider stands out. There are several things his character represented in the film, one of which was a catalyst to wage battle with your own inner demons. Nobody else could have brought out that philosophical depth in the character like Irrfan did. My most favourite performance of his is Maqbool. I’m a big cinephile, and his demise has felt like a very personal loss,” expressed Chakraborty. 

Kalpesh Khare – founder and art director at Innvention Studio

Khare stated, “Irrfan khan was one of my favourite actors and was also an inspiration to me as an artist and as a person. I have observed him speaking more through his eyes which I have also tried to mention in my today’s artwork. I loved and admired his performances especially in movies like Hindi Medium, The Lunchbox, Madaari, and so on. He has left behind a legacy of achievements to inspire us.”

Arko Chakraborty – animator, graphic artist and illustrator

Mentioned he, “My first experience with the talent of Irrfan Khan was in the film Maqbool. There I was awestruck by his character which is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I was fascinated by his eyes, so expressive yet so cold. But the interesting thing about that as I was discovering his other characters in different films and television works, that intensity in the eyes stayed the same but it was constantly changing and complementing with the characters he was portraying, whether its a cold blooded killer or a sympathetic father. There are very few actors who can achieve that kind of perfection. And Irrfan Khan was one of the finest of that group.”

Abhimanyu Ghimiray – Illustrator

“The moment I heard the news, I felt the sadness creeping in. Not because that a well known personality died, it was more because a brilliant artist who had touched millions of heart with his sheer dedication and immense hardwork in his work, is no more. He fueled soul into his every character and has made us connect with each one of them. His love for his work was evident. Honestly, I would not have made 3 portraits of any celebrity, but Irrfan Khan has not only inspired any filmmaker or an actor, but he has inspired many creative minds and artists in this country. RIP Legendary Irrfan Khan,” remarked he.


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Dear all, It was indeed a heartfelt moment when I heard the news of his demise in morning. I am sure it happened with many of Us. I remember my father telling me about when he first noticed Irrfan on a tv (around 1988). He told me that Irrfan Khan used to stay a street away from us in Jangpura, Lajpat Nagar. My father had seen him in his struggling days, walking around the street, at chai stalls or dhabas. I remember the excitement in my father’s tone when he spotted his neighbour. Though, many of us didn’t know him personally, but I am sure a sudden sadness creeped in when we heard about his demise, isnt it? My heart was really heavy. The entire country felt sad about it. I ponder upon the feeling that what was it about him? And I felt that his beliefs (which he has shared in many interviews), giving soul in every character he has played, his versatility, his hardwork and his love for his work; has touched millions of hearts. Proven to be a role model for many. . . Thank you Legend. You have inspired many and will forever. Rest in peace legendary Irrfan Khan. 29th April 2020 ?????? xxx

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Personally, my spontaneous remembrance of Khan goes back to the enigmatic Roohdaar who gave a new dimension to Hamlet’s ‘Ghost’ in Haider. To a literature nerd like me, that was a sheer delight. It also goes back to the adult Pi Patel who’s strong yet vulnerable and deeply pained because of the unrequited friendship with Richard Parker in Life of Pi. Khan bidding adieu to the mortal world has made innumerable people feel gutted as if it’s a personal loss. But that’s how people like he goes – silently, like a whimper who came, created history and left without saying a goodbye. Just like Richard Parker!

Rest in peace and cinema, Sahabzade Irrfan Ali Khan!

Irrfan Khan in Life of Pi