Sometimes he's a crass, ruthless builder who steals property from unsuspecting, middle-class folks. Sometimes he's a happy-go-lucky principal who dances a jig and indulges in brief romance with a professor.
Boman (pronounced 'bum-mann', not 'bow-mann') Irani has the knack of stepping into a variety of roles that are always endearing, but never simplistic or predictable. He adds his own twist, by delving into a make-believe past that could explain the eccentricities of his character's present.
The versatile actor is warm and friendly, and a bit of a philosopher off-screen, with his own take on life and its complexities as well as the characters he plays. And he knows how to laugh with others, and at himself.
I ask him about his 'Lucky Singh' in Lage Raho Munnabhai. But first, he wants to know if I have seen the film. "I didn't get tickets, but I have seen the first one," I say with as much conviction as possible. "I'm soooooo upset to hear that, " he says, feigning offence. "George Bush has seen the first part, so big deal. Even Osama bin Laden has," he adds, with a twinkle in his eye. I assure him I will watch it soon and text him when I do.
Soon to step into the sturdy shoes of DCP D'Silva (above) in Farhan Akhtar's remake of Don, Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Eklavya and an elderly romantic in Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Irani reminisces about his best roles during his short stint in Bollywood.
Text: Merril Diniz | Design: Uday Kuckian