In 2014, Irrfan opted out of Ridley Scott's sci-fi spectacle, The Martian.
"Yes, I was offered The Martian," Irrfan had then told Subhash K Jha. "Ridley Scott and I met. I had a memorable conversation with him. What an inspiring man and talent!"
"He is so many things at the same time and yet, he told me he had seen The Lunchbox. I asked him how he could find the time to see films after being a producer, director and so many other things. He said films like Lunchbox were his bedtime stories. Can you believe it?" Irrfan asked.
The role that was offered to him, Irrfan had said, was that of "a NASA scientist. While Matt Damon was in space, my character was on earth."
This was not the first time Ridey Scott -- the director of Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator among many other films -- had offered Irrfan a role.
"He had earlier offered me a part in a film with Russell Crowe which I couldn't do due to time constraints," Irrfan recalled. "Maybe I'll be third time lucky."
Alas, that was not to be.
So why did Irrfan say no to The Martian?
"For Piku," came the prompt reply.
"I had committed my dates to Shoojit Sircar's film, and no regrets about that."
"Piku is an important film in my career. For the first time, I was seen in an overt romantic role. Not that I haven't played romantic roles. I have, in Maqbool and The Lunchbox. But in these films, I didn't get a chance to romance my heroine with poetry and banter," Irrfan said.
"Shoojit is a good film-maker, and I'd love to work with him again. But more importantly, he is a wonderful human being."
The character that was offered to Irrfan in The Martian was eventually played by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who Indian audiences may remember playing Keira Knightley's husband in Richard Curtis's Love Actually.