If there was an award for that one Bollywood film that changed minds, hearts and the landscape of Indian cinema forever, 3 Idiots would be strong contender.
Revolving around the Indian education system, the 2009 film starred Aamir Khan as the quirky Ranchhoddas Shamaldas Chanchad, who aims to prove that one needs to chase excellence, and success will follow. He locks horns with the ruthlessly competitive dean of his engineering college, Viru Sahastrabudhe played by actor Boman Irani.
Virus (as the 60-year old is still referred to) is as far removed from Boman in real-life as it could. Rude, insensitive, arrogant â€” he is anything but this! “The first scene I shot for 3 Idiots as Virus was in Shimla, when my daughter (played by Kareena Kapoor Khan) is getting married. I remember, the team had just had a harrowing escape from the blizzard in Leh-Ladakh. I met them, who had come straight from there, pretty shattered when they got off the bus and trucks. Luckily, we were there and broke the tension. Some had cried too. They were rescued by the Army,” he says.
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But that’s after Virus became a changed man. As the original, mean character, he got to play it at IIM Bangalore, where the college scenes were filmed. Reveals Boman, “Every morning, I would without fail, get dressed in the Velcro shirt, with the hook tie, even if I was not shooting, and walk or cycle around the campus. People didn’t recognise me, thought I was a professor. I would bark and snarl at everybody, them wondering ‘Who the hell is this guy?’ I would walk into any lecture, the professor would stop talking, thinking maybe I was a new appointee. I would look around the classroom, say ‘Carry on’ and go. I just wanted to own the place! My character was one who had been there for 20-30 years. One masterstroke was that we all stayed in the campus, in the staff quarters. All the boys â€” Aamir, Chatur (played by Omi Vaidya) Sharman and Maddy (R. Madhavan) felt part of it.”
Boman received acclaim upon its release, and the film ranks among the highest-grossers of Indian cinema. He says that though he was expecting the film to work, he didn’t have an idea about the cult status it would achieve. “I am still surprised by the film. When it had released, we thought it would be a nice filmâ€¦ I realised it had become big when I got calls from people who I hadn’t heard from in years, about the film. I was on a vacation abroad then. And when I came back, we went on a victory tour in four-five cities. We would stand on the terrace of the theatre, and there would be a sea of people on the streets! I never for the life of me thought Virus would capture (attention),” he says humbly.
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(Provided by Mid-Day)