The brilliant Irrfan Khan passed away on April 29, 2020, after battling neuroendocrine cancer for over two years. The actor has left behind a huge void in the lives of his family, friends and fans. Irrfan Khan is survived by his wife, Sutapa Sikdar, and his sons Babil and Ayaan.
In an official family statement, Irrfan’s wife Sutapa and sons have asked us to think of this as a gain, not a loss. The family writes, “How can I write this as a family statement when the whole world is taking it as a personal loss? How can I begin to feel alone when millions are grieving with us at the moment? I want to assure everyone that this is not a loss, it is a gain. It’s a gain of the things he taught us, and now we shall finally begin to truly implement it and evolve. Yet, I want to try to fill in the things that people don’t already know.”
The statement further read, “It’s unbelievable for us but I would put it in Irrfan’s words, ‘it’s magical’ whether he is there or not, and that’s what he loved; he never loved one-dimensional reality. The only thing I have a grudge against him is – he has spoiled me for life. His strive for perfection doesn’t let me settle for ordinary in anything. There was a rhythm which he always saw in everything, even in cacophony and chaos, so I have learnt to sing and dance to the music of that rhythm, even with my tone-deaf voice and two left feet.”
“Funnily, our life was a masterclass in acting, so when the dramatic entry of the “uninvited guests” happened, I had by then learnt to see harmony in the cacophony. The doctor’s reports were like scripts which I wanted to perfect, so I never miss any detail that he sought for in his performance. We met some amazing people in this journey and the list is endless, but there are some whom I have to mention, our oncologist Dr. Nitesh Rohtogi (Max hospital Saket) who held our hand in the beginning, Dr. Dan Krell (UK), Dr. Shidravi (UK), my heartbeat and my lantern in the dark Dr. Sevanti Limaye (Kokilaben hospital). It’s difficult to explain how wondrous, beautiful, overwhelming, painful and exciting this journey has been.”
I find these two and a half years to have been an interlude that had its own beginning, middle and culmination with Irrfan helming the role of the orchestra conductor, separate from the 35 years of our companionship. Ours was not a marriage, it was a union. I see my little family, in a boat, with both my sons Babil and Ayaan paddling it forward, with Irrfan guiding them, “wahan nahi, yahan se modo”. But since life is not cinema and there are no retakes, I sincerely wish my children sail this boat safely with their father’s guidance in mind and rockabye through the storm. I asked my children, if possible, if they could sum up a lesson taught by their father that has been important to them…
Babil: Learn to surrender to the dance of uncertainty and trust your faith in the universe.
Ayaan: Learn to control your mind and to not let it control you.”
“Tears will flow as we plant a raat ki rani tree, his favourite, in the place where you have put him to rest after a victorious journey. It takes time but it will bloom and the fragrance will spread and touch all the souls whom I won’t call fans but family for years to come.”
The Angrezi Medium actor was admitted to Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital with a colon infection, where he passed away. Irrfan’s most memorable works include Salaam Bombay!, Maqbool, The Namesake, A Mighty Heart, Paan Singh Tomar, Life of Pi, The Lunchbox, Haider, Gunday, Piku, Talvar, and Hindi Medium, amongst others.