On September 20, Ritesh Batra’s globally feted The Lunchbox completed 8 years since its release. Nawazuddin Siddiqui who played Shaikh, Irrfan’s friend and colleague, has only words of praise for the film, its director and his costar Irrfan.
“I had the privilege of doing two films with Ritesh Batra. Halanki Lunchbox ko zyada praise mili (Lunchbox got more praise). But I’m equally proud of my second film with Ritesh, Photograph. Lunchbox went on to become one of the celebrated Indian films. Major international stars tweeted about it and it grew into a cult film,” recalls Nawaz.
He is all praise for Batra’s directorial skills. “He is very clear in his head about what he wants. At the same time he gives enough space to actors to do their own thing. Some directors don’t like inputs from actors, although they may pretend to be very liberal on the sets. But Ritesh is a true democrat on the sets. I am thankful to him for giving me a lighthearted role as Irrfan Bhai’s friend in Lunchbox. I was becoming a bit wary of playing dark sinister characters.”
As for the infamous rivalry with Irrfan, Nawaz sets the record straight. “Aisa kuch nahin tha. Sab bakwas baatein (all nonsense). Irrfan Bhai and I were both deeply committed to our characters. Unki soch meri soch se qafi milti thi (we thought alike). Working with him in Lunchbox was a pleasure and a learning experience. Sadly death snatched him away from us. I didn’t get a chance to work with him again.”