‘Irrfan Khan was a wonderful actor’: Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle pays tribute

Updated on Apr 29, 2020 07:22 PM IST

Irrfan Khan’s Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle has paid tribute to the actor.

The Slumdog Millionaire team at the Oscars.
The Slumdog Millionaire team at the Oscars.
Hindustan Times, London | By

Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire, on Wednesday reminisced about casting the late Irrfan Khan in the 2008 movie that won eight Oscar awards, calling him ‘a wonderful actor and a pivotal figure’ in the film’s production.

Irrfan’s passing away in Mumbai figured prominently in the mainstream British news media. He was in London for medical treatment for nearly a year after being diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour in March 2018. Several of his films had episodes shot in the UK.

Also read: Irrfan Khan’s heartbreaking Life of Pi scene goes viral: ‘What hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye’. Watch

Boyle said: “Irrfan was a wonderful actor and a pivotal figure in the making of Slumdog Millionaire. It wasn’t a huge role, in fact on paper it was even less rewarding looking. But Irrfan saw the possibility of guiding our audience with his dignity, his grace, his charm, his intelligence and his calmness, through this crossword puzzle of an idea, of a film”.

“He also reassured one of our most significant partners on the film, Peter Rice of Fox Searchlight, who as a friend before he was involved in the film told me cast Irrfan Khan in it, whether there was a role for him or not, he said: ‘Just get that guy’.”

Irrfan Khan and Dev Patel in a still from Slumdog Millionaire.
Irrfan Khan and Dev Patel in a still from Slumdog Millionaire.

“And then he said, he bought the film, he ended up buying the film and releasing it to put it on its trajectory towards the Academy Awards, and he was no doubt partly enticed by the fact that indeed we had got Irrfan Khan. So thank you Peter Rice, thank you Irrfan Khan for a match made in heaven”, he said in a tribute to BBC by video-link from his home.

Also read: ‘Irrfan Khan found beauty even in pain’: Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, Ava DuVernay lead Hollywood in paying tribute

As The Guardian, BBC and other news outlets ran obituaries, several individuals in London and elsewhere in the UK took to social media to express grief over his death, recalling their interaction and fond memories of him during his visits here.

London-based director Asif Kapadia, who gave Khan one of his first lead roles in The Warrior (2001), tweeted with a 2000 image of the actor: “Love you Irrfan bhai”.

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    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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