Boman Irani bumped into Humans of Bombay and recounted his journey as an actor. Having lost his father even before he was born, Irani spoke about being raised by his mother. Growing up as somewhat of a timid child with speech problems, Irani spoke about that one singing performance that changed it all. He remembers how his mother recorded the thunderous applause her underconfident son was getting. He listened to it and slowly found confidence.
Shopkeeper to Actor
Even though Irani studied science in school, his interest also lay in the arts and theatre. To contribute to the family income, Irani said he worked as a room-service attendant and later as a waiter at a five-star restaurant. After his mother had an accident, the responsibility of the family shop rested with Boman Irani. Spending nearly 14 years running the shop where he met his wife, Zenobia, and later had kids. Yet something felt amiss in his life. After his wife and a friend coaxed him to audition for an ad, Irani relented. And before he knew it, he had already starred in close to 180 ads.
A Dream Debut
A busy ‘actor’ by now, Irani was approached to star in a short film. Producer/Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra happened to see the rushes of this short film, and decided to meet him and hand him over a cheque of Rs 2 lakhs. Irani asked him what the film was, to which Chopra responded with a blank expression and said – “I don’t want you to become famous and then not give me dates.” The film happened within the next two years, as Boman Irani became a household name after the success of Rajkumar Hirani’s Munnabhai MBBS. Playing the role of a stoic Doctor called J. Asthana, Irani made an assured Bollywood debut at the age of 35.
Beginning with tiny roles in indie films like Ram Madhvani’s Let’s Talk and Prawal Raman’s Darna Mana Hai, to playing the role of Ratan Tata in the recent PM Narendra Modi biopic, it’s been a long journey for Irani spanning close to two decades. The lesson Boman Irani leaves for all of us, is that it’s never too late to start working towards your dream. You could be a 35-year-old running a wafer shop, and purely by taking that leap of faith, the world could know you as Boman Irani.