Boman Irani talks movies: In Conversation


February 24, 2016

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He’s one of the best things about Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale. Tell Boman that and he beams. He reveals what’s unique about working in a Rohit Shetty movie. “Generally, you interact with the cinematographer, the director or the first assistant director while shooting but this unit has a whole army of spot boys, assistant directors and production guys. And each and everyone has an individual personality… a voice. And they have been on several journeys with Rohit before. That’s why in the credits it always reads ‘Rohit Shetty and team’.”

Dilwale is not the only successful venture Boman has had with Shah Rukh Khan. The pair have worked in hits like Don: The Chase Begins Again, Don 2: The King is Back, Happy New Year and Main Hoon Na before. “Nothing has changed in the last 11 years since Main Hoon Na. Whether he’s the actor or the producer, Shah Rukh’s concerned about every unit member’s well-being. His door is always open. His private time begins when everyone leaves the room, which is at 4 am in the morning. He uses that moment to read or to make phone calls to his kids who live in England. He’s always in touch with his daughter Suhana and son Aryan.” He adds, “SRK has an electric and fantastic energy in front of the camera. He’s never relaxed off it either. He’s always planning. He hates clubbing but he does that, just for the youngsters on the set. For Varun’s (Dhawan) and Kriti’s (Sanon) sake he’d say, ‘Let’s go party!’ even though that’s not his scene. He is quite the ‘let’s please everyone’ kind of person.”

Dilwale got the evergreen pair of SRK and Kajol together after five years. “People associate them as a great romantic pair but there’s more to it. The pauses, the exchanges, the unsaid things between them… it’s great to see how much is said in the unsaid. As an actor, to observe them performing is wonderful,” he smiles. “It seems like Kajol’s been here forever. It’s not just the camera that comes alive while focussing on her; she too lights up in front of the camera.”

Boman also has the much hyped Housefull 3 coming up. “It’s the same old Batuk Patel in a different situation. It’s about his three daughters and their three boyfriends. Plus, there’s Jackie Shroff’s character to deal with too. But he isn’t sleepwalking this time!” he jokes. Unlike Dilwale, Housefull 3 was a set full of pranksters. “You blink your eyes and there’s a prank bang in your face. No one is spared, including the directors Sajid-Farhad.” He goes on to share an interesting incident. “It was the last shot of the day. The girls (Nargis Fakhri, Jacqueline Fernandez and Lisa Haydon) were standing beside the swimming pool. The boys (Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh and Abhishek Bachchan) had to go up to the girls and kiss their hands in the scene. They held the girls’ hands and next thing we know, they were in the swimming pool yelling and screaming!”

He reveals Akshay was the biggest prankster of them all but adds he’s bowled over by the chiselled star’s discipline. “He wakes up every day at some awful hour, much before the sun rises, and does half an hour of exercise in the swimming pool. He has different gadgets to work with; he even walks in the pool wearing mild weights. He fools around, pranks around but when the shot is on he’s all there.”

He has worked with the young crop in both Dilwale and Housefull 3. Quiz him about whom he believes has a brighter future amongst Varun, Kriti, Nargis, Lisa and Jacqueline and he answers, “Varun has a great future. Being from a film family, he understands how a set works, how people work, how important it’s to be prepared and to get the shot correct. He’s an extremely affable and hardworking lad.”

Even though he made his debut in Bollywood at the age of 44, Boman says people shouldn’t see him as a role model for late bloomers. “If someone tells you, ‘Wait till 40 to be an actor,’ then that would be a bad move. Do it when your passion becomes an obsession. And you have to be decently good at it. I have more than one passion. I love photography, music and I write,” he shares. The transition from being a shopkeeper to a an advertising photographer to an actor was a long one. “I did a lot of photography for the Miss Indias. Shiamak Davar introduced me to theatre through Alyque Padamsee. That’s how I met Rahul Da Cunha, the director of the play I’m Not Bajirao. After that play, people started saying ‘this guy can act’. The transition from theatre to films was a natural progression of sorts.” Having worked in comedy, action and thrillers, Boman tells he doesn’t have a favourite genre. “As an actor, I’m merely playing human beings – it can be a happy human being, a sad one, a terrified one….”


He doesn’t like being labelled as a comic actor. “My role in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots wasn’t comic.  Dr Viru Sahastrabuddhe was a dark character. Even in Being Cyrus, Bhoothnath Returns and Jolly LLB I’ve played shadowy characters.” The actor who has given many memorable performances says he’s terrible with compliments. “The best compliment I received so far was for my portrayal of the Sardarji (Vidya Balan’s father) in Lage Raho Munnabhai. A Sardarji went on to tell me, ‘For me you’re a Sardar. Now you’ve to convince me you’re a Parsi in real life by playing a Parsi in a movie’. ” He doesn’t believe in method acting. “Whatever technique you adopt is your method. You have to understand the soul of the film because it will be wrong to put a Rohit Shetty character in a Raju Hirani film.” He insists that he just follows the director’s vision within the parameters of the story. “I cannot portray the character I played in Dilwale in a Subhash Kapoor or a Dibakar Banerjee film. The actor is only fulfilling the director’s vision and the tone of the movie.”

The real Boman Irani is nothing like the characters that he has portrayed on screen. “In most films, I’ve played madcap characters or someone mean, nasty, dark and twisted. The role I played in Well Done Abba perhaps was the closest to me.” And what about Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi? “Oh please, I’m not such a lollipop! I’m married. I have two children (sons Danesh and Kayoze) and have enjoyed a wonderful romance with my wife Zenobia. I’m not a pale romantic who didn’t know how to kiss! Romance is the bravest thing to attempt when you’re unsure if the other person cares for you or not. It was wonderful to play such a character in Shirin Farhad.”

Unlike his onscreen portrayals, he reveals that the real Boman is a happy, positive person. “I don’t like controversy. I’m an outgoing person but at the same time I like being home with my family. I’m not good with too many hours of loneliness. Just an hour to gather my thoughts is enough for me. Then I need my loved ones around me”. An easygoing father, Boman has never insisted his sons take to acting. “I only give my unsolicited advice when it comes to being respectful, honest and decent. When it comes to their career, I encourage them to give it a shot, fail and not worry about the results.”