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Boman Irani: I am not a funny man in real life

Last updated on: August 8, 2012 18:34 IST

Boman Irani: I am not a funny man in real life

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

One of our most versatile actors Boman Irani plays the romantic lead for the first time in his career in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, which releases on August 24.

Directed by newcomer Bela Sehgal, the film also marks the debut of choreographer-director Farah Khan as an actor.

Boman Irani plays a middle-aged Parsi salesman at a lingerie shop, who is unable to find a suitable bride. 

The actor admits that it was really difficult for him to do the romantic scenes in the film.

In this interview with Sonil Dedhia, Boman talks about the experience of working in the film, his chemistry with Farah Khan and also explains why he is happy doing non-lead roles.

You have done a lot of character-driven roles. Now you're the leading man in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi. How would you explain this journey?

I see every role as a lead role. I won't do an unimportant role. Like the characters Asthana and Khurana in Munnabhai MBBS and Khosla Ka Ghosla respectively, were important. They are crucial to the film. Without them, there is no film.

In Khosla Ka Ghosla, I had just seven scenes. Then it becomes a challenge to make every scene count. It's like I have to score 20 runs in six balls. 

At the same time, I would say that when I am playing a lead role, I get more breathing space. I can graph my journey well in that character. I have time to spread my wings as an actor here. Otherwise, I don't see myself as a hero.


Image: Boman Irani in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi


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'I might not do a lead for another 10 years'

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Can we see you doing more lead roles?

I might not do a lead for another 10 years. I didn't do this movie to get lead roles. I am an actor and have to understand that I may never get a lead role again.

I did a lead role in Well Done Abba, or let me call it a title role. But this kind of role might not come my way ever again. I don't care. I am an actor and will continue to be one.

Today, I am getting recognition because of the non-lead actor roles that I have done in the past nine-and-a-half years. I hope people continue to accept me as a non-lead actor in the next 10 years too.

What kind of romance will we see in this movie?

We play characters who are 40-45 years old, who don't know how to romance at this age. My character has never been out with a girl. Farah says her character has been with guys. So it is clumsy.

We don't know what to do when in love. Should we hold hands, should we write letters, should we text, or should we BBM each other?

Even the act of holding hands is done in a child-like fashion. It is clumsy. And since it is a mature love story, the romance is very different. It is like how they hold each other's hands sheepishly in a cafe when no one's looking or maybe plant a kiss on the girl's hand.

Today's generation doesn't do that. They express their love without hesitation. The characters in the movie are stealing kisses. But it is not a Raj Kapoor style romance.


Image: Boman Irani in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi

Tags: BBM , Done Abba , Farah

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'I was not at all comfortable doing the romantic scenes'

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How comfortable were you doing the romantic scenes?

I wasn't comfortable at all. Even when you are asking me these questions, I feel uncomfortable.

But it works for the character. The character was supposed to be uncomfortable, so it looks good. Had I been asked to be comfortable with it, I might have practised more (winks). 

Did the role make you reconnect with your bachelorhood?

Yes, you can say that. But my bachelorhood was long ago! My days of romance are a thing of the past now. It was a different kind of romance then. I would go out with my wife to Hanging Gardens in South Mumbai. Today, nobody goes there except perhaps the old people (laughs). 

You are playing a Parsi in the film. Did you take any references from any person that you know personally?

I think Parsi is just a colour. My character represents every man of his age in India.

It is really hard to observe people, how they walk, how they carry their body. I have referred to a lot of people, bachelors specially. That's because bachelors have some kind of physical tension in the presence of women. They choose their words. They are very sensitive to certain things. They get offended easily because they don't have anyone to fall back on. They just have one angry mother.

On the other hand, if you have a wife and children, you feel a certain sense of power. Your body language is different. When you don't have all that, you are on shaky ground.


Image: Boman Irani and Farah Khan in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi


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'Salman is an eligible bachelor'

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You mentioned you observed bachelors for your role. Is there any bachelor from the industry that you observed?

I know who you are hinting at! I didn't observe Sanjay Leela Bhansali at all. Not even Salman (Khan) because he doesn't fit the role of a bachelor. He is an eligible bachelor. That's because he doesn't fear meeting women.

My character in the film never sat with a girl in a room alone. So that observation is different. Salman knows how to romance young heroines, hold hands, look into their eyes and do much more.

Now that you have turned into a romantic hero, will you be romancing younger actresses?

No, no! Not at all. Unless, of course, it is the story of an older man and a young girl.

If you expect me to dance around with Diana Penty, I am not going to do that.


Image: Boman Irani in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi


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'Farah didn't come in with the baggage of being a big director'

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Farah Khan is making her debut as an actress. What was it like working with her?

Farah is a highly intelligent person. She understands cinema. There is intelligence in her acting. She has an understanding of the history of cinema and that helps her figure out the style of acting.

She is funny by nature. It doesn't mean, of course, that because one is funny in real life, one will be able to project it on camera. Honestly, I am not a funny man in real life.

Farah came onboard with two thoughts. She has intelligence, plus she knows Hindi cinema very well. She also knows how to pitch the role.

Second, and most importantly, she didn't come in with the baggage of being a big director. She came with a clean slate. She is interested in learning, which comes with humility.

She was very clear that if she fudged a shot, it should be pointed out. She has the humility to accept her faults and rectify them.

Do you think this 'mature' romance will appeal to audiences?

We wanted to make a good movie. We didn't bother about whether or not there is a market for such movies. Nobody knows that. If we knew what works at the box office, we would have three hit films every Friday.

When we started doing the readings, we felt it was a sincere film and it will be a fresh film.

I am confident that it is a terrific movie. The promos have done well.

People went and watched Vicky Donor. They watched Kahaani. What markets did these films have before they were released? But they worked.


Image: Farah Khan and Boman Irani in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi


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'I would like to play a character that people can't imagine anyone else in it'

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So what is the target audience of the film?

We thought we would get a response from mature audiences, but we have got a good response from teenagers as well.

Everyone told me they were really looking forward to this movie. The response was great, I think.

There was no hype around Munnabhai MBBS. The film flopped in the initial two days. But the film was good and later became a cult classic.

You have done a variety of roles -- from villainous to comic. What kind of character excites you personally?

For me, moulding a character is exciting. It can be comic or emotional. I don't look at cinema like that. I like the camera. I like to prepare for my role. I like to create a character.

I would like to play a character that people can't imagine anyone else in it. That is my mantra.


Image: Boman Irani and Farah Khan in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi


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