They have been friends from before they were stars and now Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi have teamed up again for "LOL: Hasse Toh Phasse", a show that they hope will bring some cheer to people during the pandemic. The actors, who have worked together in films such as the "Munnabhai" series, "Jolly LLB", "Legend of Michael Misra" and "Hum Tum Aur Ghost", will be seen as co-hosts in Amazon Prime Video's show. The show premiere on the platform on April 30.
They will be playing referees and keeping an eye on ten of India's best comedians viz Sunil Grover, Gaurav Gera, Suresh Menon, Cyrus Broacha, Kusha Kapila, Mallika Dua, Aditi Mittal, Aadar Malik, Ankita Srivastava, and Aakash Gupta who are doing their best to be the "last one laughing" in this comedy battleground. The show, Irani said, gave him a chance to meet a friend after a long time.
"Honestly, I was thrilled when they said Arshad because eight months after sitting at home, I needed to see someone who, I know, genuinely makes me laugh. "He cracks me up every time he says something, and he's an original. I needed that for therapy and then I kept forgetting that it was not just Arshad who would be there it was these 10 wonderful people who cracked us up through the entire shooting schedule," Irani, who sat down for an interview with Warsi, said.
Warsi joked that the streamer hired Irani to "fill the frame" as "I'm extremely talented".
The actor then joked that Irani initially wanted Riteish Deshmukh but "'Riteish said, 'I don't want Boman!'"
Asked whether it was challenging to do comedy at a time when there was so much tragedy due to the coronavirus pandemic, Warsi said as actors, it was their job to give people something that they can "watch, laugh, enjoy and have a good reason to stay home".
"Being in this profession, one of the first things one learns is to ignore everything that is around you and focus on the job that you've been given. And that is very important because that's what we do.
"...When we were in a room, the only conversation one could have at that time was about the situation that the whole country was in, the world was in. But the moment the cameras were on, we had to leave all that behind and get on with the show. And make it something that everybody wants to watch, laugh, enjoy, and has a good reason to stay home."
Echoing similar sentiments, Irani said it was not that they were "insensitive to what's happening around" but the show's format gave them a chance to contribute to people's lives in their own way.
"If someone can laugh even a little bit at what you have to say, then you are blessed... That's what my mother keeps saying, 'your job is not to prove to the world that you are a good actor, your job is to make people happy.' That's why these guys are priceless," the actor said, referring to the stand-up comedians on the show.
Irani said he realised that the show had a great effect on him when his wife pointed out about his mood.
"When I went home after the pack-up, my wife is telling me, 'You're in a jolly good mood'. And that's the effect it had on me, because the energy and the adrenaline that's flowing, you're bringing with you. So, laughter is contagious," he added.
Warsi and Irani, in their own words, "go back a long way". It was a friendship that began with an accident when Warsi threw a 'trishul' during a stage play and Irani happened to walk by at the exact moment.
Warsi joked that Irani "still thinks it was a mistake" and Irani, who has a scar above his lips from the incident, said it made them "blood brothers".
The actor, a great raconteur, then proceeded to narrate the entire story.
"He (Warsi) was doing a dance on stage with 'trishul' and my entry was next. He was supposed to throw the 'trishul' and his assistant was supposed to catch it but he was busy flirting with some girl and it came and hit me... We became blood brothers since then," Irani said.
Warsi, on his part, said he knew Irani had great talent when he saw him perform the first time. He also knew that his friend would be perfect in movies.
"Our first interaction was this only, this play that we did, and Boman was acting in it," he said, adding that Irani, dressed as Elvis Presley charmed everyone during the rehearsal with his acting.
"I saw that and thought, 'My god, this guy's insane.' So I incorporated his moves into the song. I told him 'I want you to do everything that you're doing, and more on stage' That's the time we met."
When Warsi got his break in movies with "Tere Mere Sapne" in 1996, he recommended Irani's name to producer Jaya Bachchan but Irani said having just done his first play, he felt he was not ready.
"But it's so strange that many years later when I did my first Hindi film ('Munnabhai MBBS' in 2003), it was with Arshad."
Warsi played Sarkeshwar Sharma a.k.a Circuit, the sidekick to Sanjay Dutt's Munna while Irani played Dr Jagdish Chandra Asthana in the Rajkumar Hirani- directed film.