Boman Irani and Kunal Vijayakar
'He is damn funny without meaning to be' l 'His generosity is unbelievable'
A culinary consultant and
television personality, Vijayakar
has spent a reasonable amount of time on the Mumbai stage
Alyque Padamsee was directing Roshni. Boman was part of the cast too, singing very well. Everyone loved him. I was permanently irritated during the rehearsals because I couldn't sing, and was dealing with some insecurities. The next time I met him was after Cyrus [Broacha] returned from New York and did a play called Family Ties. Boman was already making waves by then, and he would bring his wife and kids over for rehearsal. I'd hang out with all of them.
Then, I Am Bajirao happened [Rahul daCunha's memorable 1996 production], and we'd travel, eat and drink together. But, I really bonded with Boman in 2000 when I had no work. He was a photographer then and had a studio in Worli. I'd call him to ask if he was shooting anything interesting, and would then hang with him all day. We'd order in from Nooranis or Shobha. There were times when I'd go over to his home on a Sunday, and leave the next day. His family embraced me as their own. We'd sit and talk over lots of food. We'd discuss theatre and gossip about people we knew. We'd talk vacations and holidays, and relive the memories.
I am lucky to be part of his core holiday group, which includes his wife, sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. But once, we did a boys' trip with our friend Fali Unvala, an architect and film set designer. It was in full Dil Chahta Hai style. We went to London and checked into a massive suite, and lived in the lap of luxury. Any other group of boys would have got into trouble, but we were terrible at being misbehaved. We'd watch plays, and go for dinner, then watch a matinee or musical, and have a nice drink somewhere. We made Fali do the grocery shopping and make chai every day. It was the most relaxing trip ever.
I think I was unfriendly, impatient and arrogant before I met him. I'd see him, signing autographs even when he was dead tired. If I've improved, it's genuinely because of him. I call him for emotional advice, or tips on performing a scene, and he takes mine on aesthetics, or something to do with the children.
He is a model person, and his generosity is unbelievable; not just with friends and family, but everyone. I can call him for help three times a day, and he will help me. So, I make sure I bother him only when really needed. Ten years ago, I directed a feature film called Fruit & Nut. It was quite a challenge to raise funds, and it later flopped too.
Boman was doing well in his career, and I didn't know if he'd be available. But he made the time. He said, it's your first movie; of course, I will be there. He didn't charge a rupee, although it wasn't my money that was going in.
He is a good man, also spoilt like a child. Everyone loves him, and he is quite faultless. I hope he says nice things about me, too.
Irani is a theatre and film actor,
who earned acclaim for his
portrayal of Dr JC Asthana in Munnabhai M.B.B.S, and Dr Viru
Sahastrabuddhe in 3 Idiots
Kunal and I are lovers in a romantic comedy—complete opposites. He is impatient; I take my own sweet time. Great friendship is forged over food, and that's what happened with us.
But the bond first emerged from creativity and understanding. I was growing as an actor when we first met. And he had already done a fair bit of work. First came the respect, and then the food. The friendship was sealed when he visited my home the first time. I used to live in Byculla. It had a roof that he found charming. And he loved the
skills Zenobia [his wife] was displaying in the kitchen. He became uncle to my children, and worked on their school projects. He even grew close to my mother.
He takes advice and is a good listener. I go for his ears, and despite all his bluster, he is fairly calm. He also has a great eye for good art, colour and furniture. But that doesn't reflect in his clothes. He is almost always in shorts. I often tell him that if he entered a hospital, they'd think he was on duty.
He is damn funny without meaning to be. Especially when he is angry. If the food hasn't arrived, or we are getting late to go somewhere, he gets livid, and we all crack up. What I really appreciate about him though, is that he is all up for a joke. He pretends to be brazen, but is just plain impatient. He is a softy to beat all softies. It's a privilege to be shouted at by Kunal.
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