Tanaaz Irani: 20 years ago it was easier to do comedy because nobody got offended
The bubbliness of the comic characters she plays on screen has an instant connect with viewers. And no matter what character she portrays, she adds her own, unique flavour to it. Tanaaz Irani is one of the most well-known faces on TV and in cinema, but few know that it was actually theatre that fuelled her passion for acting.
“I was always drawn towards acting. Ever since I was 6 years old, I knew I wanted to be an actor. And the only way I could become an actor at that age was by doing theatre. I only had access to that,” she recalls. “I was in my eighth grade when I first stepped on stage, and played a vegetable wali, dressed up as a lady in a Maharashtrian sari for a Gujarati play. After that I took up different genres, and was part of many plays,” says Tanaaz, who recently performed in the Hindi play Wrong Number, presented by Felicity Theatre.
“I have always been known for my comedy performances, comic timing, and it couldn’t have been more true than in this play. The role that was offered to me was predominantly a negative role — of a woman who is much younger than her husband and cheats on him. If you listen to the character sketch, she could tend to be negative [and] I had to think of a way for this character to be [taken as] positive… In a comedy play, when you have some sort of commonness with the character, that’s when you start laughing. I wanted the comedy to look organic, and not one that’s totally made up,” she says, explaining her character in the play.
Tanaaz, 46, who has been doing theatre in Delhi for more than two decades now, points out that comedy today is perceived much differently vis a vis earlier. She adds, “The first play that I performed in Delhi must have been Bottoms Up. It was a parody on life in India where we did a spoof on the police department, politicians, the racket... You know those days it was easier to do comedy because nobody got offended. We did such good comedies, and nobody felt bad about anything. They used to just laugh,” recalls Tanaaz, who has also directed plays.
The climate of fragile sentiments and offence-taking, however, hasn’t doused her excitement to perform for the audiences in the Capital, which, she says, is “Because Delhi audience is very receptive. The people who come for theatre are out there to have fun. This allows an actor to milk the scene.”
But that’s not the only lure when it comes to travelling to Delhi for a show. “My daughter loves the big motichoor ladoo that you get here,” reveals the Mumbai-based actor, adding, “At times I order that ladoo in advance, so that I don’t miss collecting it, since my daughter always asks me to get it from Delhi.”
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