Irrfan Khan, the hero who touched many lives and gave strength to broken souls, found his hero in his wife – Sutapa Sikdar. Irrfan’s love story is a reflection of how from college to success to cancer struggle to death, Sutapa was his pillar of strength.
Born into a wealthy family of the Pathans, Irrfan Khan was a black sheep in the family. While his father and other family members were happy being the landlords and running the family business, Khan was a slave to his creative mind.
It was the urge to satisfy his creative desires, that Irrfan took a road less traveled and went to New Delhi to join the National School of Drama – the place where Irrfan and Sutapa met as classmates.
During one of the practice sessions, Irrfan noticed Sutapa Sikdar. She was learning the art of acting but wanted to pursue story and screenplay writing.
With a lot of hesitation, Irrfan introduced himself. Their love for cinema and art resulted in deep discussions that lead to love.
From His First Break To His First Bollywood Failure
It was Mira Nair’s visit to NSD that helped Irrfan bag his big movie break in Salaam Bombay. He was expected to play a street kid, Salim. But sadly, his role was changed as Mira believed Irrfan didn’t look like a malnourished kid from the streets.
In Salaam Bombay, the movie in which he was supposed to play a critical role, Irrfan had a blink-and-you-miss cameo of sorts. At that moment, Irrfan was heartbroken. But it was Sutapa, who was there for him through it all.
By 1995, Irrfan and Sutapa had firmly established their roots in the entertainment industry and then decided that it was time to take their relationship to the next level. In February 1995, the couple had a simple court marriage and began their journey as husband and wife.
Irrfan and Sutapa were each other’s biggest fans and critics.
Many may not know that Sutapa is a film dialogue writer herself, with films like Khamoshi, Shabd, and Kahaani to her credit. She later turned producer with Madaari (2016) and Qarib Qarib Singlle (2017), both starring Irrfan in the lead.
While working together on many projects, it was Sutapa’s discipline that encouraged Irrfan to improve himself every time. Sharing about Sutapa’s understanding of films, Irrfan once shared:
“We studied in the same film school and my wife has a better understanding of many things than me, including performances. She has a lot of creative energy which translated beautifully into the films and their stories.”
In all these years they’ve endured several highs and lows, both professionally and personally. But the most important struggle that they fought together was when Irrfan was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor in 2018.
During Irrfan’s cancer struggle, Sutapa turned into his immense source of strength and energy. Her unconditional support touched the hearts of many as she stood like a rock next to Irrfan during his toughest battle.
While sharing how he wanted to live for his wife Sutapa, Irrfan stated emotionally:
“What to say about Sutapa? She is there 24/7. She has evolved in care-giving and if I get to live, I want to live for her. She is the reason for me to keep at it still.”
This wasn’t the first time, we got a glimpse of how Sutapa Sikdar stood like a rock next to her husband. In March 2018, right after Irrfan’s diagnosis, Sutapa took to social media and shared how their journey has been anything but easy:
Sutapa Sikdar’s note further stated,
“It seems unbelievable …never ever I realized the meaning of the word unpredictable so well…never ever I could feel peoples wishes on my bones my breath my heartbeat which helped me to stay focused and kicking.. I can’t take names because there are names and there are names I don’t even know who played angels. Sorry for not been able to answer individually but I know what you mean to us. I don’t see beyond one day and that day is today where everything seems fine. For today we go back to work, and the dance and song of life continues. Thank you for believing in your prayers.”