I was compelled to do it: Boman Irani
The actor talks about playing Kailash Satyarthi and more
Boman Irani is soon going to play the real life character, Kailash Satyarthi, a child rights and education activist, in Jhalki. Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his work on child labour. Boman talks about his film Jhalki, how tough it is to play another person, and his upcoming films.
How did this film reach you?
On a rare day off, I was sitting by my window and answering messages when I got a message from Brahmanand Singh, saying that he was making a children's film where a girl is searching for her missing brother, who is a child labourer. Normally I'd have put him on to my manager or something, but I called him back. Don't know why. He gave me the synopsis of the film and I immediately agreed to do it. It's not a long role, by the way. When asked him about my character he said it is Kailash Satyarthi. I was compelled to do it not only because it gives me a chance to play him, but also to spread awareness about the person. Many Indians don't know about, which is disheartening. It is important to talk about someone like that.
Have you met Kailash Satyarthi?
No, but when I agreed to do the film, and met the director, I told him he has to arrange a meeting with Kailash Satyarthi at some point of time. I really want to meet the man.
How did you prepare for the role?
It is never easy, but in today's day and age, doing research has become easier. I watched many of his videos, his documentaries on how he rescued children. I broke it down into three aspects of the man, which I then tried to understand. One is the public persona. The second is the crusader, who does rescue operations without fear for life. The third is actually his nature, how he talks and behaves with rescued children.
Is it tough to do a biopic of living person and does it actually help people to know more about the person or the cause?
Yes, people will compare, but you should be willing to ignore that and identify with that person as a character. For example, when Ben Kingsley played Mahatma Gandhi in the film, there was an uproar about why an English man should be playing Gandhi. But when you see the film, the man actually transported you into his world. An actor's job is to make you believe. He should create an illusion. I, too, have played Gandhi on stage, though my personality is not at all like that. But it did not matter because what really matters is whether you can wear the spirit of that person.
As far as helping a cause or person is concerned I feel it depends on the story. I think awareness is very important; we have such heroes in our country. We should be aware, proud and realise that there is world outside your own city where people are doing such work.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming films?
I am doing Tarun Mansukhani's Drive, it is an interesting role. Then I am doing Parmanu, where I play a bureaucrat and John Abraham plays the commander in chief. It is again a realistic character. The role in Sanjay Dutt biopic is also nice. So one day Hirani called me and said, "You are not part of my film and I need to put you in the film." He is little sentimental about these things. I have small shot in the film where we play a clip of Munnabhai MBBS, but then he again called me said that you have to play some role in the film. I said whenever you want me to shoot I will come. I have shot for my special appearance. He possibly represents a real character, it is not anyone famous, but Sanjay Dutt must have come across that person in his life.
Is there any update on Munnabhai 3?
I am as much as in dark as other people. They are working on the script and I would not want to talk about it.