"We have a tendency to compartmentalise our actors," said Boman Irani on Wednesday at the on-going 41st International Film Festival of India at Goa.
"Actors like Ranjit, Ajit were always considered ‘rape-specialists’, they were never allowed to do comedy. Johny Walker at the fag end of his career made me cry, with his performance in Anand. Comedy can come from great anger. Real life situations can have great humour. Uneasiness makes me laugh. I have laughed at a funeral once. Someone I know who’d lost her husband kept crying as she was being hugged by everyone. I went to hug her too, and she whispered please keep a particular lady away from me, she has bad breath and keeps making me cry. We just smiled at that and it almost seemed to come as a bit of relief for her," he said.
The actor known for his character roles in films like 3 Idiots, Munnabhai MBBS, Khosla Ka Ghosla and others held a workshop on the evolution of comedy in Indian cinema earlier in the day to a packed auditorium, easily one of the biggest draws of the 11-day film festival, which concludes on Thursday. "As cinema has evolved, so has comedy. Comedy is a loosely used word. In The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin spoke about World War II, a sad story. So, more important than anything is a good story."
The actor spoke at length about his shift from photography, his acting journey over the last decade and about the need for good screenplay writers in Hindi cinema.
“Great screenplays are character, plot and subtext driven. Even a historical film should incorporate contemporary consciousness. Shakespeare In Love was an interesting film in this aspect. The idiom of cinema has changed today. I think someone like Raju Hirani uses comedy like the older timers such as Chaplin. He understands the people of India very well,” he said. Irani has worked with Hirani in Munnabhai MBBS and 3 Idiots, with the latter being screened at the festival last week.