In a nation where Bollywood and cricket are the biggest entertainment avenues for the common man, actors carry the onus of being socially responsible, says Boman Irani, known for exhilarating performances in films like MUNNA BHAI MBBS and 3 IDIOTS, among others.
The 58-year-old actor, who entered Hindi films after he turned 40 — as an outsider, from English theatre — but successfully cast a spell of joy on Indian audiences by crafting such memorable characters as Dr. Asthana (in MUNNA BHAI…) and Prof Viru Sahastrabuddhe ("3 Idiots"), believes that it is important to be happy and make people smile.
"Some people may find the films that I do senseless cinema; but I am okay with it as long as people have a good laugh and they get their money's worth," the JOLLY LLB actor, who continues to adhere to the "theatre discipline" of rehearsal to endow credibility to the roles he essays, told IANS.
Boman is now looking forward to the release of JHALKI — in which he plays the Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi — which takes a deep plunge into the socially relevant issues of child labour and exploitation.
So moved was the KHOSLA KA GHOSLA actor by the subject that he said yes to the role in a matter of 10 minutes — unusual for someone who generally does not rush into the roles he is offered.
"When it came to this particular film, I truly felt that child labour is an issue that we do not address strongly. So I agreed to do the film in a matter of 10 minutes," said the actor who has plays like 'Family Ties', 'Mahatma vs Gandhi' and 'I Am Not Bajirao' to his credit.
"This film gave me an opportunity to talk about Satyarthi. I agreed to do it because we have to honour crusaders like him," he added.
Boman, who has also dabbled with regional language films, especially Marathi and Telugu, feels that actors need to be responsible not only in choosing roles for films and plays, but also in endorsing brands.
"I think whether you are doing a play, movie or an ad film — you are eventually playing a character. Even though it is for 40 seconds or a minute, the character remains on screen — and if you are selling a product, there has to be a certain amount of commitment to it," said Boman, who appears in two ads for P Mark Mustard Oil — both directed by his son Kayoze Boman Irani.
"When you are preparing for an ad film, it is important to know what the company stands for… When I was doing ads for P Mark Mustard Oil, I had the opportunity meet Vivek Puri, owner of Puri Oil Mills Ltd., and understand the history of the company… the pains that are taken in preparing the product, the ethos of the company," said Boman, who has a preference for home-cooked food.
Emphasising on the importance of good edible oil, he said: "I am a confirmed foodie. Off late, I have been happier eating home-cooked food simply because it brings the family together at one table."
"The main reason why I (prefer to) have my meals at home is because of the quality of the food. My wife's cooking is superlative," said Boman, who also believes in sharing household responsibilities equally with his spouse Zenobia Irani.
As advice to newcomers and outsiders like him who want to make it big in Bollywood, Boman said that they should focus on their work instead of getting into the various camps of the industry.
"I get along with everyone very well. I don't take sides. I do not talk about anything except work. And after work, I talk about fun, life and enjoyment… nothing else," he added.