‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream!’
The above quote may have been said by the British scholar and novelist – C.S. Lewis, but no one can prove it better than the maverick photographer turned actor – Boman Irani, who made his Bollywood debut at the age of 44 and made a mark for himself with his excellent comic timing and signature style of acting.
“If there is passion in your heart and fire in your belly there is no one who can stop you from moving forward,” says the Housefull 3 actor, who has done everything in his life with complete passion and honesty, be it acting in front of the camera, capturing photographs through his lenses or waiting tables at The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel as a waiter.
Yeah, today Boman Irani may be one of the most sought after actor who is known for his versatility and brilliant performances in films like Munnabhai M.B.B.S, Khosla Ka Ghosla, 3 Idiots etc., but there was a time when this successful actor worked as a waiter and even sat in his ancestral shop selling chips.
“As a kid I had a speech defect, I had a lisp, I used to actually talk like my character Virus from 3 Idiots. To make matters worse I was dyslexic, who was not good at academics. People used to call me Boman the duffer. So I decided to do a course to be a waiter and joined The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel as a waiter. I worked there for 2 years and put my heart in it. My granny used to say – ‘gali ka mochi bano, toh bhi sabse acha mochi bano’, basically be the best in anything you do and that has stayed with me always,” says Boman.
However, Boman was not destined to be a waiter forever. His mother met with an accident and Boman had to take over his family shop. “I started sitting in our shop. I sat in the shop for over 14 years. It was a long time. So imagine sitting in a shop and saying to myself that I think I am a creative person, I think I need to do something with my ability to either writer, or to understand, or to put down words, or to breakdown a screenplay and understand it…I think I am passionate about all that. Actually, I was a student of cinema since I was 12-years-old. As a kid my mom used to encourage me to see films every day, over and over again. She told me to observe cinematography, acting, music, camera movements, lyrics, lightening… everything. I used to watch movies 30 to 40 times at Alexander theater, so I was passionate about cinema. So what do I do? At 32 nobody was making me an actor because that’s a funny age, you are neither too young nor too old to play characters. So what’s the next best thing to do? I bought a camera from the money that I had saved from the tips I got at Taj as a waiter and decided to become a photographer,” reveals Boman.
He juggled his photography career along with managing the shop and actually succeeded in turning his passion into a paycheck. Initially, Boman made about 25 rupees per picture but soon his go-getting attitude and talent coupled with his passion for succeeding helped him to make 300 dollars per picture. He recalls, “I needed to do something creatively and photography was my outlet. I started with sports photography, my pictures were getting composed pretty well and I used to make about 25 – 30 rupees per picture. I said this is a great outlet, if I can make a profession out of this, then I will be a happy creative soul. That happened too, I bagged my first big project as an official photographer for The World Cup of Boxing that was happening in Mumbai. Then I did some pictures for an international client, for which I got 900 dollars, 300 dollars for each picture. I was thrilled. I was finally a professional photographer.”
And though Boman was content to have found some creative outlet, he wasn’t afraid to experiment further as he says, “One day while I was doing a portfolio for Shiamak Davar, he told me that I need to be on stage. I was like why not, chalo karte hai. He took me to theater thespian Alyque Padamsee, who told me I had no talent. However, Shiamak coaxed him to take me and I did a small role of a pimp in a play called Roshni. The show was a disaster but the press talked about me. Then I did another play and another play and another play… and then suddenly I became a theater actor with successful plays. I started getting film offers but I said no to a lot of movies and a lot of television work. Then one fine day Vinod Chopra, who had seen an experimental film I had done – Let’s Talk, called me. He gave me a cheque for 2 lakh rupees saying he would like to block my dates for the next year. I humbly thanked him and returned the cheque. Six months later, he called me again for Munnabhai M.B.B.S, I turned down the offer. Few days later he again called me and insisted that I meet Raju Hirani. I was hesitant to meet him, but I still went. I was planning to finish that meeting in 20 minutes but I ended up spending 8 hours with Raju that day, and by the end of our meeting I said yes to play Dr. Asthana.”
The rest we all know is history. And while today Boman has a very successful career, the man hasn’t stopped dreaming. Recently he voiced his desire to direct a film someday. “I don’t want to keep anything unfulfilled in my life, so I will try it.”
Well, like he says — If there is passion in your heart and fire in your belly there is nothing that’s going to stop you, right Mr. Irani?
Image Credits: cochintalkies, magnamags, indiatvnews, talkingmoviez, parsikhabar