Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Boman Irani : ‘Playing a Parsi is similar to any other person’

Boman Irani, who plays a Parsi in his next, feels young filmmakers can finally break the cinematic stereotypes built around communities

In conversation with Shakti Shetty | Mid-Day

A proud Parsi, Boman Irani feels it’s part and parcel of cinema and there’s not much one can do about it except laugh. Belonging to the depleting “tribe of 67,000 Parsis”, he points out that Basu Chatterjee’s Khatta Meetha explored the community without making it look like a caricature. In a freewheeling tête-à-tête, Boman also shares his thoughts on cricket, theatre and his son’s impending Bollywood debut.


Let’s begin with the hackneyed question — how is it like being a Parsi and playing a Parsi on screen?
I find it very similar to playing any other person with any other backdrop. For instance, I might be portraying a Parsi in five different films but none of them are similar to each other. Every single character varies from one another and that’s how an actor operates.

So how do you know that you’ve done a good job essaying a Parsi role?
When a fellow Parsi comes over to me and says that I’ve done well. Simple. Similarly, when I’m playing a Punjabi unless a Sardarji feels that I’ve done justice to the role, I won’t be sated.

Don’t you think Parsis are stereotyped when it comes to cinema?
The world is full of clichés; so naturally it seeps into our films as well. Today if we talk about South Indians, you exclaim ‘Ayyayo’ even though not all Southies use that word.

Is your upcoming film a move in the right direction?
I think so. The film has a Parsi flavour to it, yes, but the story is basically about family values and our common love for cricket.

Talking of cricket, do you enjoy IPL?
Who doesn’t? Even those who criticise it watch it. Having said that, playing test cricket has to be every cricketer’s ultimate dream. They call it ‘Test’ for a reason.

How do you rate Sharman Joshi as a co-actor?
Sharman comes from theatre and he understands the graph of a given character. In my opinion, he’s one of the finest actors of our times.

What sets an actor with a theatre background apart?
More than anything else, theatre instills discipline. And as an actor, you keep on learning. When Mr Bachchan claims that he learns something new everyday, who are we?

Your son Kayoze will be making his debut soon…
The first thing I told him was, “Of all the professions in the world, you had to choose acting!” (laughs). I don’t know what will happen to his career five years from now but I’m sure of his honesty and dedication.

KJo’s gift for Boman
Recently, Karan Johar gifted good friend Boman a camera. The actor, who began his career as a photographer, is so tied up currently that he hasn’t had the time to put it to good use.