Remembering Irrfan: The 10 Unforgettable Characters of Irrfan

Saaya Vaidya

Maqbool (2004)

In this adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Irrfan plays Maqbool, the right-hand man of the underworld don, Abbaji (Pankaj Kapur). The don’s wife, Nimmi (Tabu) and Maqbool are in love with each other. This is a searing portrait of ambition, despair and desire.

The Namesake (2006)

As a migrant in America, Ashoke is someone who tries to make a world for himself and his family that has the best of India he’s left behind and the country that he’s embraced as his new home. There’s a loneliness to this man who has been his family’s anchor.

Paan Singh Tomar (2012)

Irrfan is Tomar, an Army man who becomes an athlete because they get more food to eat. He first wins race after race and then turns into a dacoit when his ancestral land is snatched from him.  Irrfan moves with grace and points the viewer’s attention to a flawed system that villainizes those it should celebrate.

Qissa (2013)

This is one of those roles in which Irrfan plays a terrible man — Umber is selfish, violent and often reprehensible — and without losing sight of the character’s ugliness, Irrfan made us see the pathos under Umber’s anger and desperation.

The Lunchbox (2013)
Saajan is a widower on the brink of retirement. He’s an unremarkable man, living an unremarkable life, until one day, there’s a mix-up with this lunch dabba. He gets tiffin that was made by Ila (Nimrat Kaur) for her husband and what follows is a heartwarming friendship.

Piku (2015)

Rana (Irrfan), the owner of a taxi business, has to drive cantankerous passenger Piku (Deepika Padukone) and her father Bhashkor (Amitabh Bachchan) to Kolkata from Delhi. For him, the trip is a respite from his mother and sister even if it does mean that he has to navigate the eccentric angularities of Piku and her father. Irrfan’s Rana is not the conventional romantic lead, but he feels very much like the ideal man for Piku.