His story has all the ingredients of a masala potboiler. He started off as a waiter, went on to become a photographer after buying a camera from his savings, and at the age of 35, became an actor. And now, Boman Irani is in the process of planning his directorial debut. On World Photography Day (August 19), we take a look at his journey.
Photography seemed to be a natural choice for Irani, whose father was a photographer. “I never met my father, so it (a few cameras and some negatives) was the only thing that was a physical memory of him. His was not the first camera I used, though, because they used to be bulky. I got myself a basic camera so that I could do sports photography,” recalls the 60-year-old.
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Although he took up photography when he became a father, he had read a lot of books on photography before that, and it soon became an outlet for expression.
“Photography taught me patience. It taught me that art has an expression. I found a lot of solace, patience and discipline. It was a stepping stone to what I eventually wanted to do. Everything I want to express, started from photography,” says Irani, who became a force to be reckoned with in Hindi cinema in 2003, with his portrayal of Dr Asthana in Munna Bhai MBBS.
While he has established himself as an acclaimed actor, he hasn’t stopped clicking. Counting legends like Raghu Rai, Pablo Bartholomew, Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson among his inspirations, he says, “These are the real disciplined gurus who devoted their lives to the craft. There is nothing flashy to what they do, but it’s still so outstanding. They don’t have to open their mouths… you don’t have to read anything about them. You just have to see their photographs and you understand what went into it.”
This opens the field to the age-old debate of equipment vs vision. For Irani , it was a lack of means to afford equipment that helped him hone his craft.
“I’m not saying equipment isn’t necessary, but for me, all my photography came out of lack of equipment. The moment I feel I am being stunted if I don’t have an additional lens, I’m finished. At that point in time, I never had the notion that I’d increase my kit. Then, you rely on vision, expression and creativity. You rely on what’s behind those eyes. Even though specific kind of photography would need equipment, never be stunted by it,” he advises.
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With the pandemic posing restriction on movement, has it become difficult to go out and make photographs? “I now look forward to the photograph to come to me. Again, don’t feel stunted just because you are in the house. You are only stunted by your own lack of creativity. Don’t let anything stop you,” he opines.
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