Tell us about yourself
I would like to describe my core self as that of an artist – as self discovery through the medium of art stimulates me. Professionally I am a filmmaker, film educationalist, acting coach, and also write on cinema. I am the Director of my company, SBI Impresario, which was incorporated by my dad, Sorab Irani in 1975. My company has produced films and documentaries for more than four decades now for Indian and European Television and in my own humble way I am now continuing that film legacy.
I have taken a liking to the arts from childhood and I guess it’s in my genes. My dad is a trained Hindustani classical vocalist as a passion and my dad’s sister is a trained classical Bharat Natyam dancer and both have been important influences in my childhood and growing up years. I never really learnt Indian classical music but nevertheless enjoy listening to and humming ragas. As a child I did train in Bharat Natyam and performed ballets on stage and I feel there is a grace and rhythm that has stayed on with me since then.
Tell us about any current projects
I recently directed, produced (with my dad) and acted in the English language feature film, ‘The Path of Zarathustra’ which was produced by my company and was successfully released on 04 September 2015 by PVR Directors Rare Cinemas in five cities in India.
This film is close to my heart as it addresses a very serious personal concern and also universal problems faced by our contemporary times in the world today. The film tackles, through the specific ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, the universal humanistic essence of God and religion and the quest to find meaning in life finally leads the protagonist to discover love. The protagonist, played by me is a young Parsi Zoroastrian woman on a journey in modern India to discover her faith and the identity of the Parsi community she belongs to, which is at the verge of extinction.
This is a project on which I have been working for the past three years and now seeing it complete and released in theatres in India, and appreciated by audiences, was a great joy however there is a long way to go, I have to reach out to a worldwide audience and spread the beautiful message of the First Prophet, Zarathustra. This is not a conventional commercial feature film meant to passively entertain the audiences but rather actively make them participate and have a dialogue with the film. I am in the process of soon announcing the DVD release of the film and am striving to find the right TV channel who would be interested in screening it and will soon plan the international release of the film too.
As a filmmaker, being a woman is another area that I strongly identity with and I am working on a script based on girl child empowerment besides other ideas.
Being a film educationalist and teaching the subject of film at one of the prestigious IB schools in Mumbai, India (SVKM IB School) – one of the few schools that offer film as a subject – I am constantly involved in nurturing young talent to discover the infinite universe of cinema and I feel that is an interesting process for me as a filmmaker to discover my own self in so many ways and discover films in a new light.
As an educationalist I believe that the greatest learning is when you can make your students discover knowledge, rather then telling them facts. Teaching film is a great subject that can offer you that opportunity.
I soon discovered the attraction to acting as an art form as I was intrigued by how the actor acts and how the process can reveal yourself in so many ways. While I was researching acting training techniques I came upon Mikhail (Michael) Chekhov. His approach to acting was fascinating as it was nurturing an artist not only an actor. I have been passionately moved to produce, direct and present a DVD of the technique, which has the endorsement of Joanna Merlin, the President of the Chekhov Association, New York. With this DVD I introduced the technique to India and I also teach this method to young actors and professionals. Like a filmmaker and educationalist, I see acting too as a great means of discovery and the art form is so much more consuming and personal. I want to give myself an opportunity soon to explore at a deeper level the art of practising the technique and experiencing the magic of dwelling into the infinite possibilities of the body and imagination and discovering a new form of yourself each time, hidden from your immediate consciousness.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
The challenge is to always maintain a fine balance between personal freedom and the money to sustain a reasonable lifestyle. How to find money to fuel your creative yearning and sustain your artistic self without compromising your vision is always a challenge.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Successfully conceiving, creating, producing and releasing my debut feature film has been an important achievement recently and hopefully the first step towards a beautiful artistic journey onwards.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Since many of the roles I play today are not really planned, I am not sure if I would not end up doing this in some way. Life has mysterious turns but maybe what fascinates me but I have not yet the skill to follow through on is drawing and painting so maybe I would have been a painter or I would like to be one.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My father, Sorab Irani. He is a man of action and inspires that in you. He is artistic yet practical.
What does the future hold for you?
Self actualising my artistic self in the roles that I play today and maybe the new roles I discover along the path.
What message would you like to give to the people?
Keep the passion alive in your work and life and if you don’t have it, take a pause and go and discover it. Walk the path and keep the flame alive.
About Oorvazi Irani
An artist at heart and entrepreneur by spirit, Oorvazi professionally crosses boundaries to enrich each role. An auteur filmmaker Oorvazi lends her voice to create a unique world view which can bring about change and as a film educationalist she finds joy in nurturing young talent and also writes on the subject of cinema in various publications on invitation. Oorvazi is also an acting coach and has introduced the revolutionary Michael Chekhov Acting technique to India with her DVD and her acting courses.
Oorvazi is the Director of her own film production company SBI Impresario which was incorporated by her father, Sorab Irani, in 1975. The company has been making critically acclaimed films for Channel Four and the BBC for over three decades. She started her active involvement in the company with her first project ‘The Ramayana: A journey’ – a six-part travelogue series which she produced for Channel Four TV, London.
As a filmmaker Oorvazi has recently completed her first independent feature film ‘The Path of Zarathustra’ after two successful short films ‘The K File’ and ‘Mamaiji’ . Oorvazi believes that life is art and art is life and she lives in the quest of discovering that truth.
Personal Film Education Blog: https://oorvazifilmeducation.wordpress.com
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Delhi Committee Lead Ashish Bhardwaj.