‘Over-rehearsing can kill anything’

Spontaneous like no other, Boman Irani brings entertainment to Dubai’s doorstep once again this weekend, but with an important addition

By Davina Raisinghani

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Published: Wed 24 Nov 2010, 8:31 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:01 PM

We’ve watched plenty of celebrities take pictures and it’s always the same routine. Their make-up (yes, that includes the male ones as well) is touched up by one of the entourage, they check their hair and, finally, they strike their most flattering pose, complete with a practiced, perfected smile.

But, ever the entertainer, Boman Irani really gets into the proceedings. He pretends to be grave for the camera, all the while regaling us with a witty commentary on how to perfect said look. And therein lies the secret to his success. He’s a natural at keeping his audience hooked, impromptu performance and all.

“Over-rehearsing can kill anything,” notes the 3 Idiots actor, seriously. He’s due to stage a musical evening with Shankar Mahadevan in Dubai tomorrow evening, which has him reflecting on his technique.

“And you simply cannot rehearse audience participation. I sincerely believe that you should have the power to control your audience, otherwise you just don’t belong on the platform.”

His approach to working on the sets of a movie is surprisingly similar, which is often dismissed by his theatre buddies as an audience-less performance. But, Irani always finds his unsuspecting mark.

“A lot of stage actors say to me, ‘What’s the point of working in studio? You’re acting and reacting to a camera. There’s no fun.’ But I don’t look at it that way.

“While shooting, the guy who stands closest to the actor is the one who holds the thermocol sheet to reflect the light on them. He’s my audience. There are times when he may yawn and then I know that I don’t have his attention.”


Sure, stage fright isn’t something most actors worry about, especially those with experience in stand-up, but there’s the issue of no re-takes and those dreaded hecklers.

“But what’s the worst that could happen? I might fluff a line? I never worry about that. I can do that, say, ‘I beg your pardon’, and get on with it. Hitting the right energy level is what is important,” discusses Irani.

“It’s the same when acting. I do not look at being in front of the camera as having the luxury of a few takes to mess up. If it’s done in one go, then get the final cut and get out of there. I don’t mind doing ten takes to get it right but I will not use that as a cushion to not get it right in one take.”

So, we wonder, is that the elusive key to good acting? Spontaneity?

“To simply learn lines through repetition does not work for me. It’s important for me to reflect on my character. And you’re only in character when your make-up is on and you walk onto the sets.”

Meanwhile, his latest Dubai visit, after the successful Broadway-style show a few months ago, has him collaborating with his IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) awards-stint partner, singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan.

“When I was in Dubai last, it was a one-man show, a two-hour stand-up and therefore I used more comedy and peppered it with songs. But now that I have Shankar with me, we’ll do a lot more music and the comedy will come in between.”

Irani also reveals that he will join the live band present for a few songs with his guitar (a hidden talent that was, once again, unearthed during IIFA), so expect his memorable hit rendition of Give Me Sunshine, amongst others.


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