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A tortoise who won

NANDINI NAIR

Boman Irani is the consummate actor, one who entertains and inspires.


Research is important. You have to derive a character from ten different people



EXCHANGE Actor Boman Irani won over the audience with their honest and witty repartee.

Boman Irani might say, "Acting is about telling a lie and convincing people," but he is as genuine as Truth. Irani and MTV veejay Cyrus Sahukar had the audience in their fist at a recent ABN AMRO event in the Capital.

Cyrus revealed secret facets about Irani, during an interview, `59 Minutes'. "You know why it is not called 69 minutes?" quipped Cyrus. Irani laughed at himself. He mocked his mother and mother-in-law. He ribbed the Parsees. He praised the Sardars. He befriended the spectators.

His face is like a theatre stage; action passes through it all the time. "Parsee mothers are like Italian mothers," he said in all seriousness, only to add, "They are embarrassing. Though mine doesn't have a moustache." As a child he was distressed. He thought his mother was having an affair with the dhobi. His mother would greet the dhobi, "Eik minute main kapade nikal ke aati hoon."

Standing at 6 feet 2 he vividly narrated the "Agra story". He mimicked his mother-in-law at a shop. She ordered the shopkeeper to show the "Mausambi juicer". The shopkeeper replied blankly, "Madamji who Shiva ling hain."

Irani's talent is undisputed after his performances in Raj Kumar Hirani's films. But his foray into acting proves his own belief, "Real life is stranger than fiction."

A photographer by profession, he once had to shoot famed choreographer Shiamak Davar. Shiamak pleaded, "But I am soo ugly." Irani broke into a song to humour to him. Shiamak recognised the talent. A phone call later, Irani had a role in Alyque Padamsee's play. After shy exchanges, Cyrus and Irani revealed that he had played the role of a pimp. He got Rs.200 for his soliciting.

For his next play, "I am not Bajirao", Irani played the role of an 80-year-old Parsee man. "Research is most important. You have to derive a character from different real life experiences. You base a character on 10 different people, and then make it specific. You have to make sure you do not offend anyone." He sat on park benches for hours talking and discovering "what it means to be old."

Drawn from life



Veejay Cyrus Sahukar

For the role of Mahatma Gandhi in Feroz Khan's "Mahatma Vs Gandhi", he lost 27 kilos and had to be given blood transfusions. Originally 90 kilos, he could still hear the front rows saying, "Arre yeh bahuth hatta katta Gandhi hain!"

He spent hours at the auto spare part shops in Mumbai, interacting with Sardarjis for his role of Lucky Singh, in Raj Kumar Hirani's "Lage Raho Munna Bhai." A Sardarji's comment, "In Hindi films a Sardar is always shown as a jokey person. Why should this be? He is also a very sensitive person," determined Lucky Singh's character.

Heartfelt

For Irani, humour always follows the poignant. "I was a posthumous child. I was born six months after my father died." He quickly added, "Yes, I was late as usual." At the age of 15 he entered Golden Wafer. It was a family business, which made potato chips. "I met my wife there. She was my customer. I was not a pimp at that time." She bought 10 grams of chips everyday for three months. He realised it must be love only when he followed her. She gave the chips to a beggar around the corner. A few months later they were married. After 10 years, he threw in the chips to be a photographer.

Irani has lived believing, "A tortoise never moves forward till it sticks its neck out." He has taken the risks and won the races he has run.

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