Irrfan, who died in Mumbai on Wednesday after a two-year battle with cancer, appeared in a wide range of roles in mainstream and independent-minded productions. Here are only 12 of his most memorable characters.
The unnamed warrior in ‘The Warrior’ (2001)
Asif Kapadia’s directorial debut is an austere and visually striking period drama. Irrfan is rivetting as the strangely named Lafcadia, a strongman who gives up violence.
Ranvijay Singh in ‘Haasil’ (2003)
Ranvijay, an ambitious student union leader, is cunning, intimidating and violent. Irrfan’s antagonist stood out among a cast filled with actors as new-ish as him.
Maqbool in ‘Maqbool’ (2003)
Irrfan’s Macbeth act covers a gamut of emotions, including reverence towards his boss (Pankaj Kapur), passion for his boss’s mistress (Tabu), and guilt and remorse as his enemies surround him for retribution.
Ashoke Ganguli in ‘The Namesake’ (2007)
Irrfan plays Ashoke, a first-generation Bengali immigrant in the United States. Irrfan gives a moving performance as a man who tries to keep it together and stay connected to his family and his roots.
Monty in ‘Life in a... Metro’ (2007)
Monty is one of Irrfan’s earliest attempts at playing a romantic hero. Monty is a middle-aged man looking for a spouse on matrimonial sites. The brash but endearing character is a prototype for Yogi in the rom-com Qarib Qarib Singlle.
Paan Singh Tomar in ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ (2012)
Irrfan’s tour-de-force portrayal of the real-life Paan Singh Tomar, a talented athlete who became a bandit, earned him a National Film Award for Best Actor in 2013.
Saajan Fernandes in ‘The Lunchbox’ (2013)
Irrfan’s Saajan Fernandes is a widowed accountant who has an epistolary romance with a lonely housewife. As Saajan slowly opens up to new possibilities, Irrfan offers a master class in under-playing.
Umber Singh in ‘Qissa’ (2015)
Anup Singh’s Partition-era magic realist movie stars Irrfan, Tisca Chopra, Tillotama Shome and Rasika Dugal as characters whose lives are shaped and scarred by the division of India. Irrfan brings out the humanity of his monstrous character, who raises his daughter as a son.
Ashwin Kumar in ‘Talvar’ (2015)
In a film in which the cops are either bungling the evidence or playing politics, Irrfan’s Ashwin Kumar is the lone ranger crusading for the truth.
Yogi in ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ (2017)
Irffan’s Yogi is a colourful and oddly charming man who’s looking for love in his mid-40s. When he meets a widow (Parvathy Thiruvothu) on a dating app, the two go on a road trip that changes them for the better.
Irrfan as Rana Chaudhary in ‘Piku’ (2015)
Irrfan plays the straight man to Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone’s temperamental father-daughter duo. As Rana, a taxi service owner, Irrfan reluctantly drives Bachchan and Padukone’s characters from Delhi to Kolkata. His handling of his cranky passengers results in both laugh-out-loud and poignant moments.
Raj Batra in ‘Hindi Medium’ (2017)
In one of Irrfan’s most successful movies, he is Delhi-based businessman Raj Batra, who wants to enroll his daughter in a posh English-medium school. When Raj’s poor social skills come in the way of fulfilling his dream, his wife and he try crooked, and often funny, methods to hoodwink the school into accepting their child.