Monday, March 15, 2010

There's a monkey in each one of us..Boman Irani

It was a jam-packed conference hall with various eminent personalities of Madhya Pradesh; prestigious educationists, social-workers, industrialists and film critics, all waiting impatiently to see, listen to and relish the celebrity radiations so close to them. The radiations of the the fair-haired boy of the filmy set, the face of versatility in the new era of cinema with a message - our very own Virus from 3 Idiots. And we never thought viruses can be so sweet, did we?

Be it Rancho, the rebel, always questioning things and believing that learning is more than just the usual mode of education or be it the hilarious welcome speech delivered by Chatur, the film 3 IDIOTS with the genius combination of Rajkumar Hirani , Aamir Khan and the team has for sure woven magic on screen. And with his lisp act getting all the right nuances, Boman Irani who played Viru Sahasrabuddhe, the dedicated but strict professor in the film, added just the right mixes of spice unfailingly.

And so to subdue the irresistible desire of knowing behind-the-scene stories and engaging in a full-fledged discussion over the film, The Indore Indira Group invited the professor himself amongst us - Mr. Viru Sahasrabuddhe in his original avatar of Mr. Boman Irani, along with the who's who of the city to join the discussion LIVE with him in the college premises on 13th of March, 2010.

Working his way in the hall, the 6 feet tall Boman, brought a joyous smile to everybody's face.. There was an expression of calmness and satisfaction on his face, which i guess is very Parsi.

After a formal introduction of the guest, the session started with the Q n A..

And Boman was very humble and polite in his approach.

Here are a few interesting questions with their even more interesting replies -

The first question came from the CEO of the institute -

" Whilst the film emphasizes the importance of learning as a never-ending process, was it important for the film to end up on a note where the protagonist becomes a rich guy with the girl he loves beside her? If the hero ended up being a school-teacher in a village, wouldn't the film have gone down well with the audience?"

Boman didn't take long to answer that. He seemed to be very clear in his mind about the concept..quite obviously so, being a part of such critically acclaimed sensible cinema..

He said that the message of the film was to motivate the students to work harder with a strong desire to learn, to innovate and discover new possibilities within oneself. it's only when the focus is on learning and not winning that one becomes an achiever. The commercial success would follow automatically..

Q - How was it working with Mr. Amir Khan? We've heard that he's a that true?
What did you learn from him as an actor and as a human-being?

Nobody is perfect, he said. But improvising is not a bad idea either. He elaborated by narrating an incidence when after the pack-up for the film, he got a call from the crew asking him to come back to the sets for a retake of the scene where Virus beats Rancho with his umbrella inside the hostel room..As Amir was not satisfied with the shot he wanted a retake. Boman came all the way from Banglore, initially taking the whole thing as a prank.

He concluded saying that "the perfect thing about Amir is the fact that he never thinks he's perfect! He's always eager to learn, to improvise and he never escapes from doing so. And that is what i learnt from Amir as an actor and as a human-being".

The audience gave an emphatic applaud.

The Q n A proceeded -

Q - Was it necessary to show the students drinking and peeing in the film?

The giggling heard from amongst the younger crowd as a crescendo rose to a hearty laughter..Boman smiled as he playfully acted out to leave the hall but later came back to the podium to answer the question with an honest, but not without a blend of maturity, reply.

He said that the film had a bigger motive, a greater issue to deal with and so it had to take the support of negativity, only to overcome it later. Raju Rastogi as an emotional character gets himself into a mess and tries to deal with it. He wanted to undo everything. When he fails, he tries to commit suicide. He suffers a lot. And then there's this new Raju Rastogi, the refined one, more aware of himself, more confident. So, if we see the journey of Raju's character, we realise that his misconduct got him into trouble and then he struggled to get out of it. It's all a part of storytelling. You have to show the negative aspect to bring forth the positive one, so to maintain the balance.

The next one was more of a compliment than a query -

"After watching your characters in Munnabhai and 3 idiots, we've kinda started liking the villains too..there's a certain sympathy that has grown somewhere within for the negative characters like've acted so well.."

Boman expressed his gratitude for the compliment but then again playfully asked the people sitting in the audience, whoever liked the villains (or the antagonists as he would call the character in a negative role) to show up to a psychiatrist..

But then he said, we also tend to sympathize with the villains in the end, when he gives up all of his negativity, because there's a Viru Sahasrabuddhe or a Dr. Asthana or a Lucky Singh, (the negative characters played by him) in all of us. And so when we see them on the screen surrendering to positivity, we feel relieved.

He also praised the filmmakers like Rajkumar Hirani, who very skillfully plan the characters adding a reason to every action they undertake be it the laughter of Dr. Asthana in Munnabhai MBBS or the design of the practical conniving person who wants to usurp a mansion like the Lucky Singh of Lage Raho...

Or like the scene where Virus drops the egg in the initial speech in the encounter with the first year batch of students - symbolic of breaking the dreams, the individuality of a human being, even before the start of his physical existence is marked on the calendar. How the path he would want to choose by himself, is pre-decided by others while he is still in his mother's womb..the scene, Boman said, balanced itself out when his own grandchild, kicks while still in his mother's womb, suggesting that he might become a good footballer and not necessarily an engineer or a doctor, breaking the stereotypical culture of the family..

Another compliment came from a biology teacher who wanted to thank him as a representative of the film fraternity for the support it gives to the people to make a greater impact, like the film did for the school and college teachers...She said that teachers at schools and colleges have a hard time counseling the students and letting them discover their hidden self..These days, she said, it is important to counsel the parents too, who forcibly drag the children on the pathways of the dreams that they themselves could not fulfill..

Boman made a disagreement to her statement and re-instilled the confidence in the teachers for the teachers, he said, have a much greater impact on students than cinema and it's wrong to underestimate their potential.

It was a nice one and a half hour session with the man enlightening us with not only the film nuances but with the description of his struggle-full life and the success that followed in his own pleasing style.

The in-between lighter moments where he was asking everyone to loosen up the neckties, made the mahaul light and entertaining...

I loved the one-liner he concluded the session with -

"There's monkey in each one of us.."

Monday, March 8, 2010

I am all cheery as i memorise the happenings three years back..i was shooting for my debut documentary, Adrashya Nari. It was 8th of March, 2007, Woman's Day and i was out in the field to document the facts on the theme essentially for women - their empowerment through education.

It later occurred to me that the shooting date coincided with the date of celebration for women the world over. And somehow i was self-assured about the task i was involved in. My second self, my alter-ego justified my involvement in the project as necessary and i proceeded.

A lot of appreciation and criticism later, (btw, the docu Adrashya Nari / Invisible Woman, wins yet another title - Silver Lei Award in the International Honolulu Film Festival organised recently under the Short Film category), when i am confronted with the basic question i started my project with, I feel like saying so much. Well, the basic question of how important is education for a woman? Can it really dissolve the social evils persisting in the country and the world over if we get all our women educated? The answer is a simple "No" and so seems very complicated.

The incidence of a ruthless murder of a woman by her mother-in-law and husband, occurred a few months back in the city. The culprits and the victim involved were all well-educated, belonging to well-to-do families. The incidence made headlines and was duly forgotten. Did education resolve the issue? Or did it stop any such incidences from occurring again? It could well have been possible if the woman who had to abandon her life to satisfy the cruelties of others would have voiced her protest against it, just at the time when it started.

So, it's also the matter of a strong value system or value education that a woman should possess, which she can pass on to her future generations. Not that our male members are incapable of doing it but it's always the lady of the house who can actually make or break our homes. Look around to find one as an example. It's never a bad idea to begin the change we always want to see around, at our own home! Charity does begin at home. Always.

Primary education is as essential as the values. There should always be something to fall back on in case destiny turns its back on the so-called lady-luck. Finances are as necessary for a woman as it is for a man. And now it's time she understands that.

Formal education coupled with value education, opens the door for wisdom that many of us lack.
Whilst the former is a bonus, the latter is the core, the fundamental root to the wisdom tree.

 And the decision you make of the biggest choices would often be driven by the value system you'd acquired over the years not only by the knowledge acquired by the books or degrees.

This emotional and logical connectivity goes a long way in leading a structured and balanced life.

Well I think Peter Brougham would agree:

Education make a people easy to lead,
but difficult to drive: easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.