Quirks and Laughs
He’s zany. He’s witty. He’s jolly. He likes cracking a joke every now and then. He could get serious. And he’s stylish. Both on screen and off of it, Boman Irani is insightful and entertaining. The powerhouse of talent was in Bengaluru to unravel his unconventional idea of style at the Blenders Pride Reserve Collection Evenings when RITZ caught up and had him wax eloquent about his sense of style, acting and Parsi humour.
First off, on the subject of style, tell us what you are most comfortable wearing.
My track pants and a T-shirt. I genuinely feel that jeans are comfortable to work in. Comfort is one aspect of dressing, while respect is another. I would never ever go anywhere dressed shabbily. And I like to dress shabbily as when I’m at home, I’m shabby. At home I don’t think anyone even needs to comb their hair. It’s perfectly ok. When you’re at home with your dog tumbling on the bed, you can’t possibly wear a suit. But when I’m flying or heading out for any meeting or a function, I don’t think I’ll ever go without a blazer.
Which characters you’ve essayed so far had a bizarre fashion sense?
Oh, that’s true of most of the characters I’ve played.
And which one character tops that list?
It’s the one I played in Khosla Ka Ghosla for sure. Because I couldn’t understand the clothes I had to wear. See I do wear clothes that are bizarre. But that’s the character. I never judge a character as we can’t be judgemental about who we play.
Your son (Kayoze) will also be seen in The Legend of Michael Mishra where you have a role…
Yes, but we don’t share screen space.
Having acted in multiple plays and in films, how distinctive do you find the two?
Screen acting is not about the actor. Theatre is about the actor. Screen acting is about the direction, as it’s a director’s medium. The director is telling the story through cuts, close-ups and editing. I think even non-actors can be a part of great movies as the director can make the character look good. So it’s very important that we have a good script and a good director. If there are good actors acting with you, that’s the best that can happen. When you act with a good actor, your performance looks even better. Many people think a good actor can overshadow your performance, but that’s not true. Nobody overshadows you. An actor who is good will make you look good. I was doing Ferrari Ki Sawari and it was such a pleasure to work with Paresh Rawal as we’d rehearse, discuss the role and the pitch. It’s very important to work with good actors.
You’ve performed comedy and dark roles with equal élan. Which of the two do you like playing more often?
Playing the bad guy is easy. If I take the character from Khosla Ka Ghosla, which is my favourite film and I always talk about Khosla, he’s a bad guy. But he’s got a very serious story to tell. I think Virus (from 3 Idiots) is one of the darkest characters I’ve ever played. And people think of it as comedy. But it’s a dark character. He talks about his son falling off a train and going to lecture the next day. This reflects darkness. That something is wrong with that man. That he’s not normal. Whatever he did was full of ego, full of narcissism, and reflects complete superiority. He’s a dark character. I like to play characters that are shaded, rather than uni-dimensional. Virus could have been a nice person, but he does not want to venture out of his shell. He is always frowning. But one day he decides to crack some joke. See, there are funny people who can be extremely serious. You cannot have a funny person joking every day as he could also be living with some pain. The moment you have a funny man who can be serious, or you have a serious person allowing himself a little joke here and there, it makes the character appear more real and rounded. Most importantly, I like characters that are part of a good story, because if the story is not great, nobody will pay attention to the character. Stories are most important and characters help to tell the story.
Are you considering acting in a play soon?
No. Not now, although I will soon. My heart is in theatre. People ask me whether I want to go back to theatre, to photography and I say YES. So then they ask what I’m doing right now. I say I’m doing movies and I’ll concentrate on this right now and when people get fed up of me doing movies, I’ll go back to my other passions. Let me play out the movie chapter now. My life has anyway been one of merging chapters.
What is it about Boman that not many people know?
I’m petrified of lizards. Absolutely petrified. I’ve still not gotten over the fear of missing my flight. So even if the airline manager is with me in the lounge having coffee, I’ll say let’s go. Another thing about me is that I’m a very lazy person. People think I’m hard-working, and I work very hard when I’m working. But when I’m not working, I’m the laziest person in the world. I would not even turn around for the remote to change the TV channel!! When I’m lazy, I want to be lazy.
Being a Parsi, does humour come naturally to you?
Yes as Parsis we’re happy even making fun of ourselves. We’re happy teasing each other, including our parents. My mother never stops me from teasing her, and I never stop my kids from making fun of me. If a family cannot laugh at the dining table, then it’s not a family. I encourage humour. Parsis like to laugh; I think the neighbours get fed-up. We Parsis talk loud; we eat and keep telling stories. It always helps being a little naughty by nature.
What Parsi delicacies are you fond of?
At weddings I like saas ni macchi, which is fish in white sauce. At home I like to eat the Parsi pulao and I like our good old dhansak.
Do you cook any of these dishes?
Oh no, I can’t even boil an egg! Though once I’ve cooked on TV, which I did all by myself as my wife’s hands were tied.