Irrfan Khan: The Bollywood star loved by Hollywood
Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan has died aged 53. Here biographer Aseem Chhabra charts how the actor also rose to become one of its biggest stars in the West.
In 2007 Irrfan came to New York to promote Michael Winterbottom’s A Mighty Heart, an investigation into the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal’s South Asia correspondent Daniel Pearl.
In the midst of interviews with him and his co-stars, including Angelina Jolie, Irrfan pulled me aside and talked to me in Hindi.
He asked if anything was happening – if people recognised him and whether he had a chance to get more work in the West.
A Mighty Heart was Irrfan’s second international project. His first, Mira Nair’s The Namesake (2006) – a story about Indian American immigrants that was financed by a Hollywood studio – was still playing in some cinemas in New York and elsewhere.
Yes, certainly something was definitely happening, I told Irrfan.
I did not know of any other Bollywood actor who had two films playing in US movie theatres at the same time. And later that year, Irrfan was back again, playing a small supporting role in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited.