Reeling from the Loss of Irrfan and Rishi

Reeling from the Loss of Irrfan and Rishi

Surrounded by non-stop stories of loss and grief of individuals from all walks of life around us, we also mourned the loss of two acting giants within a span of 24 hours, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor.
Rishi Kapoor passed away on April 30th at the age of 67 from leukemia, hours after the the passing of actor Irrfan Khan.  Described as “coming from Bollywood  royalty”, Kapoors grandfather, Prithviraj, was a pioneer in India’s pre-independence film industry; his father was Raj Kapoor and son Ranbir Kapoor, one of the biggest leading men in Bollywood today.
Kapoor is best known as a romantic hero whose charm made him one of Bollywood’s heroes of the 1970s and ’80s, in such films as “Mera Naam Joker”, “Bobby”, “Deewana”, “Amar Akbar Anthony” and “Karz”.   His last on-screen performance was in 2019’s “The Body”, and he was in the middle of filming “Sharmaji Namkeen”.  Kapoor married his co-star Neetu in 1980.  One of our favorites is “Main Shayar To Nahin” from “Bobby, featuring the acting debut of Dimple Kapadia. As noted by Sameera Soo, this film (and scene) set the tone for the story of “young lovers who rebel against claustrophobic, old-fashioned ideas. The movie became the highest-grossing film of 1973 and one of the biggest hits of the decade.

Irrfan Khan who passed away on the morning of April 29th at the age of 53 from a Neuroendocrine tumor, was described as a “special acting talent” and “gentleman” who managed to break through Bollywood and Hollywood with an impressive roster of movies including “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Maqbool” and a personal favorite, “The Lunchbox”.  Khan was also unforgettable in the HBO drama miniseries, “In Treatment” as Sunil, a native of Calcutta and recent widower who moves in with his son’s family in Brooklyn.
In a touching remembrance, Mira Nair, who cast Irrfan Khan in her debut, “Salaam Bombay” and her adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake”, describes the way he adapted to the Bengali accent  via Lahiri’s father without the need for a  dialect coach. She notes that for Americans, Khan is “in the realm of Jean-Paul Belmondo or Marcello Mastroianni or Omar Sharif, even — clearly from some other culture but having great appeal to be seen as anything from an Everyman type to a very quiet and intelligent sort of sex appeal.”
And Irrfan’s widow, Sutapa Sikdar, shared a touching eulogy on his Twitter account. She poignantly described their life as a “masterclass in acting” with the cancer diagnosis (from 2.5 years ago) as an uninvited guest where she “learnt to see a 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.”  Irrfan will be sorely missed and if you can, take some time during this quarantine to watch his work.  You can catch “Talvar”, “Haider” and “Life in a…Metro” on Netflix and “In Treatment” on HBO or Hulu.  The rest of his works are available on Amazon.
Here’s a scene with both Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan from the 2013 movie “D-Day”:

Posted: May 2nd, 2020
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