Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are pitched against one another at every given opportunity. A Shabana-Smita kind of war between Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the two reigning kings of avant-garde cinema has been brewing for a while.
It came out in the open, when, at an awards function at the beginning of 2014, while thanking his team and co-stars for his performance in The Lunchbox, Nawaz didn't mention Irrfan's name.
Protesting that much ado was being made out of nothing Nawaz said, "There was nothing deliberate in this. I didn't mention a lot of people by name. I just wanted to thank the entire team of The Lunchbox."
However, Nawaz did mention Nimrat Kaur with whom he had hardly one scene and not Irrfan with whom he shared almost every frame in The Lunchbox.
Nawaz defends himself saying, "It just happened that way. There was no intention to ignore him. I've nothing against Irrfan. In fact, I've the highest regard for him as an actor. I don't know why such an issue is being made about our so-called rivalry. We are both reserved people. We like to keep to ourselves. We may not be the best of friends. But we are certainly not enemies. I guess people like to pitch actors of similar sensibilities together like Shabana and Smita or Naseer and Om."
To prove how wrong people are about their rivalry, Nawaz says, "Irrfan and I were together at the Sundance Film Festival where my film Liars Dice was shown. There was absolutely no stress between us."
However, some months ago, when Irrfan was asked about his rivalry with Nawaz, the senior actor walked out of the press conference without answering the question.
While Irrfan Khan refused to comment on the rivalry, a source close to the actor feels by commenting on the differences with Nawazuddin, Irrfan would only be fueling the controversy.
"Irrfan doesn't want to give Nawaz any publicity," says a source close to Irrfan Khan.