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My father, Boman Irani

Last updated on: December 2, 2010 18:04 IST

'I've got the coolest dad in the whole world'

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Sonil Dedhia Mumbai

Boman started his innings in acting late -- at the age of 37. Today, he is hot property.

It's a rare to find an actor who charms you with his characters, and yet, each of his roles remain distinct and memorable.

As the actor celebrates his 51st birthday today, his eldest son Danesh recalls his time with his father.

"Dad started his career working as a waiter at the Taj hotel." Danesh begins in a faint voice as he recalls his dad's struggling days. "After the Taj, dad got into the family's bakery business. We had a shop in Byculla known as Golden Wafers. Even during those days he was as jovial and funny as he is today."

In the late 1980s, Boman got interested in photography and decided to give it a go. He left his family business and started pursuing photography.

"I remember at the age of 34 dad started his career as a professional photographer. Financially he had a very difficult time but he never made us aware of it," Danesh recalls.


Image: Danesh and Boman Irani

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'Dad had to play a 75-year-old, a man half his age in a play'

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Boman got his big break at the world boxing federation that took place in India. Danesh says, "After the boxing event happened, his photography skills got recognised. There was no looking back." 

Then theatre beckoned. It was choreographer Shiamak Davar who suggested he give theatre a try. Danesh recalls, "Dad was pushed into an audition for Alyque Padamsee's play Roshni and ended up doing a small role. It didn't bring him much recognition but he continued doing theatre."

His persistence paid off in 1996 with Rahul Da Cunha's Rage Productions I'm Not Bajirao, an adaptation of Herb Gardner's experimental play, I'm Not Rappaport. The play was about two old men who converse on a park bench. "Dad had to play a 75-year-old, a man half his age. It was funny to see him dress up like an old man," Danesh adds.

The play become a blockbuster and ran for seven-eight years. If that was not enough, Boman accepted the role of Gandhi in Feroz Khan's play, Mahatma vs Gandhi.

Danesh laughs, "He had lost 22 kgs for his role as Mahatma. Till today I guess he is one of the tallest Gandhijis that anyone has ever played."


Image: Boman Irani in Mahatma vs Gandhi

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'People went crazy after watching my dad in Munnabhai MBBS'

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Then Bollywood happened.

"Everyone thinks that Josh is his first movie but he never acted in that movie. He started with Rahul Bose's Everybody Says I'm Fine in 2001 and Ram Madhvani's Let's Talk in 2002," clarifies Danesh.

Boman was still unsure of continuing in films. "Dad had a little problem with his Hindi diction. He was not sure if he could improve it," Danesh adds.

But that all changed when Vidhu Vinod Chopra offered him a role in Munnabhai MBBS, the same role that was previously offered to Amrish Puri and Paresh Rawal. 

Danesh says, "People went crazy after watching him in Munnabhai MBBS. He did the role of Dr Asthana so beautifully that when I went and watched the film, I also started hating him for a second. But at the end of the movie he won everybody's hearts."

Danesh recalls a funny incident that happened to him during his college days. "I remember I was in college doing my graduation when Munnabhai MBBS released. I had failed in one of the subjects and our parents were called to meet the professor. When my dad walked in, the professor completely changed his behaviour. Two of my friends and I were called to his cabin and given royal treatment. He didn't complain about me to dad. We managed to slip out easily."


Image: A scene from Munnabhai MBBS

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Boman's new avatar

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Since Munnabhai, Boman has done both parallel and commercial cinema with panache. His roles were eclectic -- a quirky Parsi in Being Cyrus, a corrupt cop in Don, a real estate cheat in Khosla Ka Ghosla, the egoistic Viru Shahastrabudhhe or Virus in 3 Idiots.

Currently Boman is making a comeback on stage but this time in a different avatar. Danesh is the producer of the fusion tour. Danesh explains, "I started an event management company Purple Cherry and decided to produce a show called the Fusion Tour with my dad and Shankar Mahadevan."

Fusion Tour sees Boman in a new avatar -- a musician.

"My dad and Shankar compliment each other musically in the show. While dad sings in English, Shanker sings in Hindi and vice versa. Dad also plays the acoustic guitar." Danesh adds.

"The highlight of the show is the last performance when Shankar sings Kal Ho Naa Ho and dad sings Frank Sinatra's My Way. Its just a treat to watch them together. We have already done one show in Dubai which was a huge success. Dad is very kicked about the whole concept."


Image: Boman Irani at the Fusion Tour

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'I am what I am because of my dad'

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Danesh says his father never interfered in his or his brother's career. "Right from the start, he had told us to do whatever we wanted to. He never forced us to do anything. I never thought of getting into event management and becoming a producer. It's all thanks to him that I am what I am today."

He proudly adds, "Everyone would say that they have the best dad in the world but I can honestly say that I have the coolest dad in the world."

Asked how life has changed with his dad's success, Danesh says, "Success comes with its own positives and negatives. For us he remains the same."


Image: Boman Irani

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'I'm sure dad will direct a movie pretty soon'

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Danesh says Boman's friends have stuck by him since his struggling days. "I don't think dad has forgotten any of his friends. Throughout his journey he kept on adding friends and that's what I like about him."

So who is his dad's closest friend in the industry?

"It's difficult to name only one though Rajkumar Hirani (Munnabhai, 3 Idiots' director) is very close to him."

When quizzed about what is the next unexpected thing that Boman might plan to do, Danesh quickly replies, "He wants to direct a film. I am sure he will do it pretty soon."


Image: Boman Irani

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