Irrfan Khan was famous for breaking many stereotypes that were previously laid by Bollywood for an actor. Stereotypes such as an actor must have a muscular body with fair skin. A Bollywood actor without an impressive height, a chiseled face who could lip-sync songs in the rain, will not be able to survive in the film industry.
Irrfan mounted all these prerequisites through his impeccable performance and unmatched screen presence. He showed the Hindi cinema and the Indian audience that there is more to acting than just good looks. He took movies that told different stories every single time. Irrfan experimented with his characters. This is the reason we always witness a new flavor in all his character.
Although, it was impossible for us to pick only 7 memorable movies of Irrfan Khan. The movies mentioned in the list are widely praised and loved by the viewers and the critics. We are sure that you will not regret revisiting them.
1. Piku:- Comedy
Released in 2015, and directed by Shoojit Sarkar, Piku stood out as a film because of it’s relatability with any typical Indian family. There are not many members in the family contrary to what is usually portrayed. There is a daughter and her aging father. The movie peeps into the ordinary life of a family of two. Piku loves her father, but his habit of being choosy as he gets older irritates her the most.
Deepika Padukone as Piku Banerjee is living with her widowed, aging father Bhashkor, played by Amitabh Bachchan. Bhashkor is an eccentric person with chronic constipation. His constant nitpicking and bickering with Piku and every one in her family, makes it impossible for anyone to work for them.
We meet Irrfan as Rana Chaudhary, who owns a taxi business. Piku often quarrels with Rana’s taxi drivers as a result all the taxi driver refuse to drive her in future.
Piku wishes to sell her ancestral home in Kolkata, to which her father strongly protests. Not wanting to sell the home, Bhashkor decides to leave for Kolkata on his own. Piku, however, is reluctant to let her father travel alone due to his health issues. She later joined Bhashkor. Rana offers to drive Piku and her father as all other taxi drivers refuse to take Piku.
Rana’s presence in the movie complements the father-daughter dynamic. He acts as a neutralizer who subtly convinces Piku against selling the home. Meanwhile, he encourages Bhashkor to listen to his daughter, who only wishes the best for him. He even manages to convince Bhashkor to take up cycling to improve his chronic constipation.
This movie talks about the daily life of children trying to cope up with their old parents and their necessities. As parents get older and it falls upon children to share responsibilities, there are a new set of challenges that is seldom addressed.
2. The Lunchbox:- Romance
Released in 2013, this movie gave butterflies and hope to every single soul who gave up on the idea of romance. Lunchbox starring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur along with Nawazuddin Siddiqui won a nomination in the British Film Academy Awards in the non-English film category. Hindi cinema often glamorizes stories about beautiful and young couples falling in love. Rarely do we see two people in their later stages of life finding love. Lunchbox is one such movie.
Ila(Nimrat Kaur) is a housewife whose love life is on decline. In order to save her previously romantic life, she prepares lunch for her husband. She makes all his favorite dishes and sends them to her husband’s office through the renowned dabbawallas’ services in Mumbai.
One day the lunchbox gets misplaced and gets delivered to Saajan(Irrfan Khan), a widowed accountant. Ila learns about the mixed lunch boxes and sends a note to Saajan. Subsequently, there is an exchange of notes where both the parties share their lives.
We see the characters finding themselves falling for each other and as a result decide to meet in person. However, things don’t turn out the way they planned. Shaikh( Nawazuddin Siddique),too, has a crucial role to play in bringing back lost emotions to a previously distant Saajan. He befriends Saajan and eventually helps the two main protagonists find each other.
Lunchbox gives a ticklish feeling and is a good comfort movie. It does not portray love as something too dramatic. It provides hope to people feeling lonely and too old to be wanting to be in love. Exchange of notes, sharing heart’s desires, and life’s monotonous activities, too, can ignite joy, love and friendship.
The film conveys the idea that love and happiness are also found in friendships and certainly in day-to-day activities. It does not always have to be romantic and grand.
3. Life of Pi:- Adventure
Based on the novel of the same name written by Yann Martel Life of Pi is an aesthetically pleasing movie. It managed to take its audience along with it on an unknown journey. The movie received affection and accolades from viewers worldwide.
Pi Patel narrates the story of his life to a writer. He specifically shares the story of 16-year-old Pi, who was stuck in a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pi’s father runs a zoo. He has a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi gets attached to the tiger. Later we find that Pi’s father plans to move to Canada to have a better life. He also plans on selling the animals from his zoo.
They take their animals through a ship: however, a storm destroys the ship, resulting in the death of all the family members of Pi. He finds himself in a small boat as the lone survivor but soon realizes he is sharing the boat with Richard Parker, a hyena, an orangutan, and a zebra. The hyena kills both the orangutan and the zebra and later gets killed by the Bengal tiger.
The movie takes us on a journey where both Pi and the Bengal tiger learn to trust each other. A series of events test both the borders of the small boat. Eventually, upon reaching the land, they parted ways. Insurance officials ask Pi about his journey. He narrates the two accounts, but they were reluctant to trust either of the narratives.
In the first account, Pi describes how he and the Bengal tiger shared the boat, and learned to trust each other in order to reach the island. They both hunted fishes and spent the night on the boat. In the second account he replaces the animals with his family members.
While the movie was vastly praised for its visuals, it didn’t miss its philosophical touch. Irrfan Khan narrated the events for young Pi in the movie. The last portion of the movie where Irrfan’s Pi shares the disappointment of separation lingers even after the movie is over.
Check out our blog for movies featuring the journey of humans with animals.
4. Paan Singh Tomar:- Biography, Action
This is an extraordinary biography of the journey of an Indian man who joined the Indian army. Later on this man represented the country in Steeplechase race. And from here he had another major turn in his life which labeled him as a dacoit.
The movie begins and we see that Paan Singh Tomar is on the run. During the run, an interviewer asks him about his life. He states that he was an army man. His seniors saw his remarkable athletic abilities and soon Paan Singh represented the country in the steeplechase race. He won 7 gold medals for seven consecutive years.
However, he had to leave military service and the games. He returned to his village in Chambal due to a dispute over a land. His relative Bhanwar Singh illegally claimed land that belonged to Paan Singh. This disturbance within the family grew bigger and bitter as a result Paan Singh’s mother gets murdered.
Filled with rage and anger, Paan Singh sets to avenge his mother and forms a gang. This gang extracts money from rich businessmen. The gang grows bigger and so does the dispute and bloodshed in Chambal village.
Irrfan Khan was truly spectacular in this movie. The otherwise very complicated character with strong emotions was perfectly played by him. So much so that critics claimed this role fitted Irrfan like a glove.
5. Hindi Medium:- Comedy
Irrfan Khan paired with Pakistani actress Saba Qamar in Hindi Medium paved the way into the audience’s hearts. This comedy drama revolves around the theme of children’s education and the obsessive focus on being able to speak English.
Irrfan Khan as Raaj Batra along with Saba Qamar’s Meeta Batra want to send their 5-year-old girl Piaa to an elite English medium school. They want to provide the best education for their daughter so that she would be a part of the high class society in the future.
At first, the couple disguised themselves as a part of the rich society to get admitted to the desired English school. They even moved to the affluent part of the city to implement their plan, but failed. Next, they shifted to the impoverished area of the city in order to get a scholarship that would help Piaa get into the school.
Just like our parents who wish to provide the best education for their kids. Raaj and Meeta, left no stone unturned. The couple tried to memorize English answers for the interview and even learned how to behave like a true resident of a slum.
In the final portion of the movie, Raaj points to a major glitch in the Indian education system and society. He focuses on the notion that society labels a person illiterate if they are incapable of speaking English.
Irrfan’s hilarious attempts to try to get his daughter admitted to a school is something that the audience would love watching again.
6. Angrezi Medium:- Comedy
This was unfortunately the last film that Irrfan Khan worked on. Angrezi Medium is the spiritual successor of the movie Hindi Medium, also starring Irrfan Khan. The movie showcased that a parent is ready to overcome all kinds of challenges for their children.
Irrfan is playing the role of a single, widowed father Champak Bansal. Champak runs a sweet shop in Udaipur. He has a starry-eyed teenage daughter Tarika, who wishes to study and travel abroad. Furthermore, to add to his list of problems, Champak has a half-brother Gopi, who is always competing against him.
Determined to fulfill his daughter’s wish, Champak is willing to overcome all the obstacles. Champak, Tarika and Gopi arrive in London, but as fate would have it, things don’t go smoothly. Champak and Gopi manage to get themselves arrested and deported back to India; meanwhile we see Tarika enjoying her time in London.
First, not being able to speak English; second, a misunderstanding in the foreign land and finally running out of cash, we see Irrfan’s character engaging the audience till the end.
Champak and Gopi again land in London, this time under a false name. As a result, they are again in trouble. They encounter a cop named Naina(Kareena Kapoor Khan). This encounter brings a new hilarious set of problems. The movie has the audience hooked as they are speculating on the end.
7. Billu:- Comedy
Based on the Malayalam movie Kadha Parayumbol, Billu was originally named as Billu Barber. The title was later changed to Billu, after receiving hate from the hairdresser’s association. The film is a true representation of how the Indian crowd reacts to a shooting especially if it’s a well-known movie star.
Irrfan Khan is portraying the role of a poor barber named Billu. He is living in a very small village called Budbuda with his wife, played by Lara Dutta along with his two kids. His life takes a magical turn when a superstar decides to shoot in the village. The superstar, Sahir Khan played by Shah Rukh Khan, according to Billu is his childhood friend.
All the villagers shower Billu with gifts, favors, praises once they get to know that Billu is friends with the superstar. Failed to prove his friendship with the actor, the villagers along with his family accuse him of lying and fraud. But, a sweet turn of events changed everyone’s opinion of Billu.
While the movie is about friendship, a larger portion of it depicts the love for Bollywood, its actors and actresses. The movie fanatic Indian crowd cannot contain its happiness when they get to catch a glimpse of their hero. It’s almost like a festival for their small village.
We see Irrfan’s Billu struggling to handle his overnight popularity and seeking means to meet his superstar friend. Irrfan Khan’s acting coupled with comedic script left everyone rooting for his character.
Just like the movies teach us many great things about life, an actor’s life too has many lessons. Irrfan’s choice of movies tells us about his passion for achieving the highest best self. His versatile selection of movies teach us to destroy all limitations and accept risks. And this is why we will love Irrfan Khan’s timeless movies forever.
Tell us which movie you would like to revisit.