is an Indian theatre and film actor, voice artist and photographer of Irani descent, who works in Bollywood films. After making his film debut with the 2003 anthology horror film Darna Mana Hai, Irani had his first commercial success with the 2003 comedy Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. He subsequently starred in several highly successful productions including Main Hoon Na (2004), Veer-Zaara (2004), No Entry (2005), Don (2006), Heyy Babyy (2007), Dostana (2008), Housefull (2010), Cocktail (2012), Jolly LLB (2013), Bhoothnath Returns (2014), Housefull 3 (2016) and Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran (2018). Irani’s highest-grossing releases came with several films that rank among the highest-grossing Indian films of all time, including Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), 3 Idiots (2009), Don 2 (2011), Housefull 2 (2012), Happy New Year (2014), PK (2014), Dilwale (2015), Sanju (2018) and Total Dhamaal (2019). His performance in 3 Idiots won him the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Irani was born on 2 December 1959, in Bombay (now Mumbai) to an Irani Zoroastrian family. He finished his schooling in St. Mary’s School, Mumbai. Irani was dyslexic and had ADHD and had a lisp. He overcame his lisp eventually. He undertook a two-year waiter course at Mithibai College in Mumbai. After his polytechnic diploma course, he joined the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and worked there as a waiter and in room service. He was promoted and finally worked as a waiter at the rooftop French restaurant, Rendezvous. He worked at the Taj Mahal for two years.
While he was at school, he used to watch movies at the Alexander Cinema daily after school. His mother often encouraged him to watch the movies repeatedly, to observe their cinematography and art. Irani’s father died six months before Irani was born, but had a namkeen shop, which his mother took over thereafter. Irani also worked at this shop on Grant Road till he was 32 years old. This ancestral bakery and namkeen shop was located in the Grant road area of Mumbai, between Novelty and Apsara Cinemas, and was also where he first met his wife.
While working at the Taj, using the tips that he received, Irani bought a camera and took sports pictures (school cricket and football matches), selling them for twenty to thirty rupees, which he continued till well after marriage. His epiphany came when he saved money for seven years to take his family for their first ever vacation to Ooty, but they ended up in a desolate run-down hotel called Shawham Palace. Irani decided to take control of his life, and instead of living the petty existence of a photographer selling small photos, he would started to dream and live big and provide more for his family. Irani calls it his “zero number bulb moment”.
Irani continued to be a photographer, but now at the age of 32, went six months prior to the world boxing championships at Mumbai to meet Adajania, the then president of the Olympic boxing association of India, and requested to become the official photographer of the World Cup. When Adajania told him there was no need for him, Irani offered to work at his office for six months for free in return for a ring-side badge to cover the event. He continued to try to convince Adajania, and covered a state boxing match in a different manner than other photographers. Adajania was impressed by his photos and his passion and appointed Irani as the official photographer.
Meanwhile, he became the photographer for the Norwegian boxing team and photographed specific photos that they needed of Ole Klemetsen. When asked about his charges, Irani asked for the international rate. Irani took the required photos with his K-1000.
Acting had been a passion for Irani during his school and college days. He trained under acting coach Hansraj Siddhia from 1981 to 1983.
Irani’s mentor was Alyque Padamsee — the veteran theatre actor best known for his role as Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Gandhi. He was introduced to Padamsee by Shiamak Davar.Irani’s earliest theatrical appearance was in Roshni where he played a cameo at the Regional Theatre in Versova. He followed this up with serials like Family Ties and Mahatma vs Gandhi, playing Gandhi after the role was turned down by Darshan Jariwala. His most illustrious play to date is I am not Bajirao which ran for 10 years.
Irani moved to films in 2000. He started out in a number of advertisements such as Fanta, Ceat and Krackjack biscuits (as Mr. Jack of the Krack and Jack duo).
His small but significant role in Darna Mana Hai earned him acclaim. The film was declared a hit, and he was one of the most remembered segments of the film along with Saif Ali Khan. Irani gained attention for his role in the 2003 comedy Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.. His role as J. Asthana earned him a Filmfare Award nomination for Best Comedian. He later appeared in Lage Raho Munna Bhai for which he received several IIFA award nominations and in 3 Idiots opposite Aamir khan which earned him a Filmfare Award and a Star Screen Award for Best Actor in a Villainous Role. Irani has appeared in many comedic roles (Main Hoon Na, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Dostana, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Waqt: The Race Against Time, No Entry, Housefull, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Housefull 2 and Cocktail), supporting roles (Veer-Zaara, Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara, Lakshya, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Sorry Bhai!, Page 3, My Wife’s Murder) and negative roles (Don: The Chase Begins Again , Don 2: The King Is Back, Eklavya). He acted in his first Telugu film Attharintiki Daaredhi as the grandfather of Pawan Kalyan.
Irani hosted the IIFA Awards with actor Ritesh Deshmukh in 2008 in Bangkok, 2009 in Macau, 2010 in Colombo and 2011 in Toronto. He has been on Kaun Banega Crorepati with Sanjay Dutt. He also hosted the quiz show Bollywood Ka Boss. Irani featured in OneTouch Glucose Meters TV commercials in 2015 with Simone Singh.
He launched his production house Irani Movietone on 24 January 2019. The logo was unveiled by Amitabh Bachchan