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 fin 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?
I had my day off and I was sitting by my window and answering messages. While I was doing it I got a message from Brahmanand Singh, which said that he is making a children’s film where a girl is searching for her missing brother who is a child labourer. I called back the person, I don’t know why. Normally I put them to my manager or something. He gave me the synopsis of the film and I said ok, I am happy to do it.
It is 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 I am getting a chance to play him but also to spread awareness about the person. I told them give me a day and I will sort out my dates, as I had to shoot in Banaras. There was date issue but I managed it and told them that I am on. It was out of impulse, also it is little bit of departure from what we generally do and because of the man himself I decided to do it. It is important to talk about the person who many Indian don’t know. It is disheartening.
Have you met Kailash Satyarthi?
No, but when I agreed to do the film, and when I met the director I told him I am doing this film and you will have to make me meet Kailash Satyarthi at any 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 figured out three aspect of the man, which I tried to understand, one is the public persona. The second person is the crusader, who does rescue operations without fear of losing life. The third person is actually his nature, how he talks and behaves with rescued children. There is a completely different personality.
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 that person as a character. For example when Ben Kingsley played Mahatma Gandhi in the film, there was an uproar about why English man should be playing Gandhi. Those days there used to be short reviews and they showed couple of shots at the round table. Everyone started laughing, how will he do it. When you see the film the man actually transported you to his world. We don’t know how Gandhi looked like in real life. So an actor’s job is to make you believe that he is Gandhi since you are in a cinema hall and it is the actor’s domain. He should use it to create his illusion.
People had reservation about Daniel Craig when he took over James Bond people forgot about it after watching it. 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, I am playing a bureaucrat, who is interested in after the failed attempt of atomic test, to revive whole thing and initiates it .John Abraham is playing the commander in chief. It is again a realistic character. The role in Sanjay Dutt biopic is also nice, so one day Hirani calls me and says that 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 MMBS 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 represents possibly a real character, it is not a famous character but that person must have come across in Sanjay Dutt’s 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.