(Iconic Bollywood star and theatre actor extraordinaire, soulful singer, brilliant photographer and producer, – Boman Irani, the pride and joy of our community is as humble as he is legendary! Down to earth, a gentleman to the core… always spreading his effervescent energy like the rays of the sun, leaving warmth and an everlasting impression in the minds and hearts of his fans, friends, followers and family! Charming and large-hearted, his ability to bring a smile to every face is what makes him even more special and loved – as much by our community as by the nation and the world. His positivity and dynamism is infectious – keeping one and all mesmerized by simply being himself! Parsi Times Reporter Binaisha M. Surti brings to you a special exclusive interview with your favourite personality, our dearest Boman Irani… beyond the Superstar… where you get to know more about Aapro Boman via chats with his wife Zenobia, sons Danesh and Kayoze, and nephew Rehan Poncha.)
Every movie buff enjoys the inimitable Boman-magic that our multi-talented Boman Irani spins on-screen, entertaining the audience full-on, through all his eclectic characters that he portrays effortlessly! On-screen and off-screen, people tend to gravitate towards his friendly demeanor, enchanting personality, his respectful nature and a magical ability to relate to all, immaterial of their standing. Those looking to know more about the community’s Hero Number One are in for a treat! Let’s get started…
Boman’s late father had wanted to name his son Boman, meaning ‘great mind’; and so his late mother, fondly known as Jer (Mother Irani) honoured that wish. Sharing one of his most memorable childhood experiences, Boman says, “The day, when I was travelling, as an 11-year-old to sing with the Adi Marzban Variety Entertainment Troup was a thrilling experience for me. I got a lot of confidence. Also, in school when I won a music competition, my mother bought our first mono-cassette player and recorded the song! It felt great that she was so happy with my performance.”
Boman Irani has been blessed with strong female influences in his life – his mother, sisters, aunts and wife Zenobia have been his pillars. “It’s very important to have that kind of influence – it makes you more sensitive towards feelings and helps draw a balance in life. It’s good to be connected with that side of your personality.” A doting husband, he adds, “It’s amazing to always have a good friend at home with you – Zenobia and I share that beautiful bond – we’re great friends first. When life hands you its ups and downs, you need that friendly motivation. It helps to be at an arm’s length to those who give you good advice, support and comfort you.”
His rock-solid bond with his late mother, Jer (Jerbanoo), is well-known. She’s been the most inspirational person in Boman’s life. “The best life lesson I learnt from her is that you will have adversity and you may not be designed to deal with that adversity; but in the end, you will figure a way to deal with it.” Recounting a sweet memory about her, he says, “When my son Kayoze was little, he would mix up her name. Instead of ‘Jerbanoo’ he would say ‘Berjanoo’, and the name’s stuck with us all, since.” His sons, Danesh and Kayoze were very close to their grandmother, while wife Zenobia shared an extraordinary bond with her mother-in-law. It’s no surprise that family comes first and means everything to Boman – he shares a super-friendly relationship with his sons, who, walking in their father’s footsteps, are extremely grounded, despite their own extraordinary success stories.
A passionate photographer even today, Boman used to enjoy clicking sports related pictures. A huge cricket enthusiast, he recalls watching India v/s West Indies inaugural Test Match in 1975, at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, where Eknath Solkar scored a century. He reminisces standing by the sea-facing side of Mumbai’s gymkhanas along Marine Drive and clicking pictures of young cricketers.
“I remember shooting a Giles Shield match at Hindu Gymkhana. Back then, I did not have a long-lens camera, so I’d start out sitting on the parapet side, then on the field near the boundary line… and before I knew it, I was at cover point, taking pictures! I didn’t realize I’d dragged myself all the way in the sitting position, closer to the players. The next thing I see is a gentleman walking towards me – I thought he’d chase me out. I immediately apologized. But he actually came to ask me if I would share the pictures! That gentleman was none other than former India cricketer – Eknath Solkar himself! Meeting him that day was my first ‘fan-boy moment’. Two days later, I delivered the pictures to him.”
Boman’s love for cinema led to his launching his own production house, ‘Irani Movietone’, inaugurated by the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, who is like family to him. Boman reveals how his mum was a big Bachchan fan and thoroughly enjoyed watching him on the silver screen. He remembers bunking class to catch the film, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. Instead of being pulled up for watching the film, his mother simply asked him sweetly how her ‘Amto’ (Amitabh Bachchan) performed in it!
Coming back to present times, while most are gloomy about the ongoing pandemic and lockdown restrictions, curtailing life as we knew it, Boman, being the positive spark always, focuses on the half of the glass that’s full and shares how he has really enjoyed being able to spend that much more time with his lovely wife Zenobia and their adorable grandchildren ‘Ziaan and Sysha’ – who bring them tremendous happiness and joy. A true Bawaji at heart, he also enjoys spending more time with his ever-loving pooches – ‘Lisa and Gina’.
Not allowing the pandemic to break his stride, our ever-dynamic Boman even donned the teachers hat, conducting online screenplay writing workshops – ‘Spiral Bound’. “During the early phase of the pandemic, we didn’t know how to organize our time. ‘Spiral Bound’ consumed half the day, and today it has indeed grown very big – we have run 370 sessions through the pandemic. This endeavor will continue forever,” he says.
In fact, not many are aware that Boman has studied the art of screenplay writing in New York, as he always wanted to direct his own movie. “My teacher in New York has been incredible and is now a dear friend of mine; we have been writing together. He taught me all about screenplay writing; I continue learn every single day from him.” This wonderful teacher is none other than the Oscar-winning writer of ‘Birdman’ – Alexander Dinelaris Jr.
Boman plays the role of apro Farokh Engineer, legendary former Indian Cricketer, in the upcoming Bollywood movie, ‘83’. He delights in the brilliant chemistry he shared with Engineer, spending good time with him in England. “The spirit of the man is so inspiring! He wants to meet people and share his experiences with them. When he took me to Manchester, Old Trafford to see a cricket match, it was wonderful to see the respect he commanded from all the people around,” says Boman.
The Zoroastrian love for collecting items in their house is well known and aapro Boman is no different. He prides himself in an ultra-huge collection of DVDs, blue ray films at his place, which he has collected over 20 years! “It started with one DVD I bought in London, and it just took off from there! My work is my life and it is what I really love. This is the only thing I indulge in!” he shares.
Did you know Boman is a meticulous holiday planner? He admittedly visits the travel agent multiple times for even the minute details, so he can plan things to perfection. “We get to go once a year; its family time and it is very special to me, so it has to be done well!” he justifies.
Regarded as one of the most well-dressed celebrities, Boman’s love for different coloured suits adds to his charisma. “I wear suits out of respect for the people who have invited me for their functions. It is work, so when I go for corporate shows, I always dress formally – suit and tie. I believe it’s very important to be respectful of the people who have invited you.”
And what advice would he like to share with our readers? “We all should stay motivated and keep ourselves mentally stimulated during these challenging times of the Pandemic. Things will open up eventually, but till then don’t get rusty. Soon you will find yourself busy again – so take this opportunity during the lockdown to learn something new, sharpen your skill sets, become stronger. When things open up, let’s all be prepared and equipped with physical and mental stamina. And most importantly, never let go of or forget your craft.”
“It is very important to know your roots and where you have come from. Never forget the humble situations that our ancestors came from. If you understand your roots, you will be more appreciative of who you are as a human being today. Our community is blessed with a wonderful heritage and legacy. This legacy has to be fueled with more good deeds,” signs off Boman with these words of wisdom.
Rapid Fire Round With Boman Irani
What close friends and family call you: Bob
Favourite colour: Blue
Favourite cuisine: Parsi
Words that describe you best: Hyper when working, lazy when not!
Your closest friend in Bollywood: Raju Hirani
Favourite holiday destination: London
All-time favourite cricketer: Sunil Gavaskar
Favourite subject in school: The one that I would pass in!
Best compliment received so far: I did not recognize you in the film
Your Phobia: I get phobic talking about phobias!
All-time favourite movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Boman Irani’s family – wife Zenobia, sons Danesh and Kayoze; and nephew Rehan Poncha, share their exclusive take on Boman…
Zenobia Irani (Wife): When I met Boman, I was all of 20! From our first date, we were committed to each other. Every relationship needs nurturing and working on from both sides. We have built our relationship on a lot of mutual respect for each other. Boman is a good Parsi with good thoughts, good words and good deeds. He is a very good human being and always says nice things about people. What I like best about him is his humour, kindness and his nature to always include everyone in everything. He loves it when our entire family is together, especially when his sisters and their children come from Pune. Having a simple meal with loved ones – that is what Boman is all about!”
Danesh Irani (Son): Dad and I have always shared a very friendly bond – we’ve faced ups and downs together. Even though times were initially tough, we were always happy. We enjoyed going to Udvada together as that used to be our holiday, basically! During those days, we would travel by train, then take a rickshaw with all four of us squeezed in together… and the roads were not the best, but we’d still enjoy ourselves, and always share a positive outlook. Now today, when we go for better holidays internationally, though the surrounding is different and fancy, we still have the same kind of fun, because we are ‘together’ – and that is what we value the most. Dad loves spending quality time with my kids – Ziaan and Sysha. I have indeed picked up many leaves from my parents’ book on parenting, as they are role models. My father is just the same person as he portrays himself in public – and that is a very unique quality.”
Kayoze Irani (Son): “We are like best friends, and many times I just call him by his name – Boman – when I want that extra attention! We are play station buddies. When we’re not working, then we play almost every evening. We play FIFA – it’s like a huge competition and he plays to win. Often, I go to him for advice and he always tells me, “I’m not going to tell you how to do it, because if I tell you, then you will do it the way Boman Irani does it. I will tell you the right thing to do and you will have to find your own way to do it.” I have learnt from him to be honest, disciplined, punctual and never let anything bring you down. Dad plays the guitar very well too, so I learnt to play that with him during the lockdown. He has ignited my love for sports, too. One incident which touched me greatly was when he took the entire family for a holiday to Malaysia when he was shooting Don 1, this included his mother, sisters and even his in-laws… and that was a wonderful and memorable experience!”
Rehan Poncha (Nephew): “Ever since I can remember, Boman mama has been an entertainer, not just on the silver screen but also at home. I grew up watching him make the family laugh at all our holidays and get togethers. Holidays are important to him – to make and share memories with loved ones and he ensures they happen and happen well! I have learnt from him that hard work coupled with patience yields great results, and that success, no matter how delayed, will always come when you put in self-effort and belief. What I respect most about Bob (Boman’s pet name) is the effort he makes to ensure that everyone he interacts with, will leave feeling like they got not just a great dose of Boman, but the most enjoyable overdose… and that is Boman mama for me!”