Actor Boman Irani to play the role of Kailash Satyarthi in Jhalki

Jun 11, 2017, 14:18 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

Actor Boman Irani on playing a Kailash Satyarthi in his next, and why some movies do not need to be socially relevant

Actor Boman Irani
Actor Boman Irani

Even if he hadn't won the Nobel Prize, we should know who he is. When I tell people I am going to be playing Kailash Satyarthi in Jhalki, they ask 'who is that?'" cringes actor Boman Irani, "It's embarrassing." In the film, Irani portrays the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner who was lauded for his campaign against child labour and protection of their right to education.

Jhalki, which is being directed by Brahmanand Singh, is a work of fiction that follows a girl in search of her younger brother, who was sold as bonded labourer. Boman, as Satyarthi, helps him escape. Speaking of the activist, Irani says, "He is a crusader, and the way he approaches his mission is amazing — he has freed almost 87,000 children, and says he won't stop till all children are free. If you are on YouTube watching something, make it something worthwhile and watch his speeches."

It could be the case of life imitating art but Jhalki's premise of saving children at risk also holds close to the 57-year-old's heart. When he is not working, Irani plays mentor at the Don Bosco Shelter Home for Children at Risk, that houses kids rescued from the streets where they are susceptible to a life of drugs and crime. "I help them find some confidence.

They all want to be working members of society. They used to be angrier, now they are more focused. They have ambitions, like becoming a DJ, being in the IT sector or theatre. These are all achievable goals too." Along with mentoring, Irani has also been instrumental in raising funds for the school. "Recently, a bunch of kids came here from Itarsi. It was the first time they had seen the sea. I was not an actor to them, just a person who was talking to them. This gives me a lot of calmness and joy," he says, and then adds, "Even just a line of encouragement can change a life."

Irani, who is known for his iconic roles in Munnabhai MBBS and Khosla Ka Ghosla among many others, is not one to rest on his laurels. He is working on two more projects, one of which is a John Abraham production. Parmanu, revolves around the 1998 Pokhran blasts. "I play a bureaucrat. If you are asking me how it altered my view on the nuclear blasts, I have one primary question: Should anyone in the world have ever made a nuclear weapon? That's the first and most important question. But since that is the case, I now feel that it's a response to being bullied. That's what I got out of that character."

He is also doing a bit role in Raj Kumar Hirani's Dutt, a biopic on Sanjay Dutt's life. And even though he can't tell us what the role is, he seems excited about it.

"Raju called and said, 'you have to be a part of this story'. I said, write me in, get my mug there." On the surface of it, all movies that he is involved in now seem to have political or social relevance, and when asked if that is a conscious decision, he shrugs. "I think all my movies shouldn't be the same, so I do make it a point to do different kinds of films. But yes, right now, they are socially relevant…" he pauses and then says, "I like the idea of movies making a difference, but, at the end of the day, a person does need to be entertained.

The guy on the street wants to go to the movies with his family and have a good time. That's why I make it a point to do a fun movie. As an actor, I am an entertainer, and we should really not take everything so seriously. It's okay if a few movies do not have a message to impart."

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