‘I can’t be funny all the time’


Says Boman Irani has he talks about his Blu-ray collection and how he uses humour to get out of sticky situations

“I can’t be prancing around all the time trying to be funny. I am human after all,” says Boman Irani about the after- effects of the roles he has selected to do. For the multi-faceted actor, acting wasn't his first love. Before he was bitten by the acting bug, Boman was a well-known photographer and theatre artist. But everything did not come easy to him. From selling chips to waiting tables at a five-star hotel, Boman has done it all.The actor has donned a new role and that is of a chat show host of Teachers Achievers Club and as part of the show which will feature achievers from various fields. The candid conversations will be dotted with video from friends and family of the guests. “It is a humbling experience to listen to their journey and the common thread running through each of them is humility,” he says. In a free-wheeling chat, the actor talks about his show, the films he selects and his love of collecting blu-ray discs of NASA expeditions.

Excerpts from the interview:
How is Teachers Achievers Club different from other chat shows?

It is not restricted to any particular field. We have selected achievers from different field-sports, films, business etc. The purpose of the interviews is to reveal the human side of success. Through the show, the achievers will talk about their professional highs and lows, their vision and ideologies, disclose personal anecdotes and discuss what it took them to get where they are and how they have maintained level-headedness throughout. This show is like a self-help book for the young generation.

Having eminent personalities mean there is nothing much to discover. How did you deal with that aspect?

It is true that a lot has already been said and discussed about their lives and much has been spoken. But I have been told by the people I have interviewed that this is the best researched chat show they have been a part of. My research team did an exhaustive research by talking to friends and family and made sure that we explore a different facet of their personalities.  So when you talk to a Vidhu Vinod Chopra, you will see him in a different light. How he coped up with his failures and turned it to his success.

What kind of research did you undertake?

I was a part of the research team and all of us sit together and brainstorm multiple concepts that we put together.  It is good to be involved in the preparations for every episode because I have to make sure that my guests are comfortable. You can’t stop between a conversation and the idea is not to ask embarrassing songs but to put out the questions in an interesting way.

What are your learnings from the show?

I am just an audience’s representative. The lessons I learn are the lesson which the audience learns as well. It is a humbling experience to listen to their journey and the common thread running through each of them is humility. The greater the achiever, the greater is the humility. I loved what Narayana Murthy said. ‘The power of money is the power to give it’. People only know Sabyasachi as a designer. Not many know the side of him that thinks about creating jobs for artisans and keeping our cultural heritage intact. It is a great learning experience.

You have dabbled with TV and films. Which has been a more satisfying?

I believe in living in the moment. So when I am doing films, I concentrating on that and when I am doing TV, which is what I enjoy doing then.

What kind of shows do you like watching?

I don’t watch too much TV but I am a collector of blu-ray DVDs of NASA missions. I like watching works of Richard Attenborough, Planeteer etc. I only like watching shows on HD. I catch up on lot of comedy too.

Most shows on TV are family shows with predictable plot. What are your views?

I think, at the end of the day, the audience needs to be entertained. I have nothing against the saas bahu sagas because there is a section of society who wants to watch then which explains their demand. Personally, I like watching the shows on news channel especially the public discussions. Cinema on the other hand is very progressive and the burst of new-age films is very encouraging.

In terms of fleshing out a character -- his nuances, his eccentricities -- how much of it is actually down to the script and how much is down to improvisation?

Character building is not improvisation. Even if it is not in the script, it is actually an interpretation of the script. It is a part of the story. For example a Virus from 3 Idiots may not be written exactly the way I interpreted but the basis of the character was in the script itself. Virus’ character is grim and dark and he is a man from the past- right from the way he walks to his speech. That’s how you develop a character though the specifics are meant to be discovered.

Do you use humour to get out of sticky situations?

I use it all the time. Humour is a very powerful weapon and when used rightly can lighten situations. Having said that, I’m not funny round the clock. I’m not chirpy through the day. I am human. I can’t be prancing around all the time trying to be funny. People often expect me to be funny all the time.

Which has been the most challenging role till date and the most satisfying?

I have enjoyed doing every single role but if I have to pick up one role, it has to Well Done Abba. We had a 32-day schedule away from Mumbai for it and when you’re shooting at a stretch, you really get into the character. It was unlike any role I have played, in terms of language, tone and culture. Before shooting, I had thought Shyam Benegal would be quite serious but we had so much fun.

What has been your biggest learning curve?

Every role is a new role and every role has to be approached as a new film.

Catch Boman in action at the Teachers Achievers Club on STAR World on Saturdays at 8 p.m