Bonding with Boman Irani: The actor breaks many popular myths about acting as a profession as he makes his OTT and directorial debut
The Munna Bhai M.B.B.S actor talks about his upcoming film Runway 34, his directorial debut, his OTT debut, starting his acting career at 42 and breaks many popular myths about acting
If the platitude ‘It’s never too late to start working on your dreams’, is anything to go by then actor Boman Irani is a poster boy for it. The actor, who got his debut film Darna Mana Hai (2003) at the age of 42 had his commercial success with Munna Bhai M.B.B.S the same year, and is more than 70 movies old today. He is now a name to reckon with when it comes to diversity in roles as an actor. We all know him as Virus of Three Idiots and Mamu of Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. but Boman Irani is a lot more than his roles. He has back-to-back projects lined up for shooting, three films ready to release including Runway 34 also starring Ajay Devgn and Amitabh Bachchan in lead roles, Jayeshbhai Jordaar with Ranveer Singh and Suraj Barjatya’s Oonchai with a host of senior actors like Anupam Kher, Amitabh Bachchan, Danny Denzongpa, Sarika and Neena Gupta. He recently completed a yet to be announced six episode web series for a streaming platform which will mark his debut on OTT. Boman also teaches the nuances of screenwriting in his online screenwriting workshop, Spiral Bound which is curated for budding writers, amateur and professionals from different walks of life. The actor, at the age of 62 is all set to make his directorial debut with his own production house Irani Movietone by the end of this year, is in the midst of celebrating his granddaughter's birthday. However, he took time out for us to talk about his upcoming movie Runway 34, direction, upcoming projects, life in general and more… Excerpts:
How is the 60s treating you?
Like it treated me when I was in my 30s and 40s. I don’t look at the age as to worry about something. At large it is treating me well because I am mentally and physically active. I was recently in Nepal shooting for my film and I had to climb rocky terrains. I was able to do that so that means I am healthy. Although, I do believe that the saying age is just a number is not true. You grow and things change.
Do tell us about your experience when working in Ajay Devgn’s film and also with Ranveer Singh in Jayeshbhai Jordaar?
It was brilliant to work with Ajay as a co actor and Mr Bachchan. Ajay has a deep knowledge of cinema, camera and angles. He is very clear about what he wants and he loves his craft. And Ranveer is so much fun to work with.
You are making your debut as a director, what interested you to take this plunge?
It was my childhood dream to become a director and I am fulfilling my dream. I knew at some point in my life I will be a director. So far the opportunity didn’t come so I created one with my own script and production company. I always wanted to be a director. I can’t say that I have experience of 30 years that I can take up direction now because you have to start from the scratch and become a student again.
Is there any director who you look up to for their work and set your benchmark as director?
There are so many directors who I admire. My all time favourites are Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Bimal roy. They have told the stories so beautifully. In the West I love Billy Wilder and Steven Spielberg’s work. Their films turn me into a child.
Success came late to you, but you challenged the idea of the right age and right time. How do you see your career graph after three decades?
When you are young you always want to dream about different things. There is a goofy and silly way of looking at the world. I feel you have to fulfill all the dreams because you don’t want any regrets in your life. The timelines that you make are worthless. I was working at a shop when I was 32 and got my break when I was 42 and had to start from the scratch but I was ready for that. Is it against the law? Is it in any rule book that says you can’t start after a certain age? I started doing theater at the age of 35 and when I got the break, people asked me ‘where were you for so many years’. I would say I was practicing all these years to face the camera. Now people say why you are writing at this age but I am just fulfilling the dreams that I saw as a little boy. I can also step back and spend time with my kids and grand kids all the time but I choose to work and when I come back I spend time with them. Now that I am 62, the popular idea is to retire, but I disagree. Retiring at an age is a corporate thing. After retirement should we stop working? No, you can start your passion at any age. It’s the death of your aspirations when you stop working. I am as excited today as when I was 25. I am so excited about everything and it keeps me alive and healthy - (work is) much better than workout.
Being a celebrity, you are constantly in the public eye and a soft target for criticism, especially on social media. How do you stay sane?
Like I did 20 years ago. The situation was the same but not on social media. You are aware that people are forming opinions of you but they shouldn’t make any difference. You have got a mission and you have to make a movie. It’s nice to get love from unexpected quarters but then when hate comes you have to accept it and move on.
You are celebrating your granddaughter's birthday and we have seen you as a father on screen who isn’t too supportive of their children’s decisions. Are you the same in your real life?
You have to ask that to my son. I am easy going in that way. I like to give my children space and not so many orders. My only duty to my children is to love them as it’s the biggest requirement for the child’s mental growth. Giving guidelines and making them follow them is not my thing. Children don’t do what you tell them to do, they do what we do. That’s parenting, end of story. Children don’t like to be ordered. I think I got that formula right.