Rashid Irani is no more. In the last year or so, which has seen so many pass away, Rashid Irani joins them. With him, perhaps, one of the best chroniclers of Mumbai cinema has moved to another abode. Rashid Irani would be best described as a consummate lover of Mumbai cinema just as the late R. V. Smith was a consummate lover of Delhi as a city. So, it is not incorrect to say that an institution is no more.
For those of you, who might ask or be curious: Who was Rashid Irani? Well, he didn’t write any films, not that I know of. And I don’t think he was trained in film appreciation from one of the famed institutions in the country.
Yet, he was Rashid Irani. He was part of the Irani community in Mumbai, who had come to the city around a century ago. For years, from early morning till late evenings, he ran Café Brabourne, a restaurant in South Bombay in Dhobitalao. In his spare time, he watched movies, wrote about them. His friends who visited Café Brabourne were somehow associated with cinema. So, he was not just a “film buff and a film reviewer”, as he says in his own words, but also someone who’s Café played a role in cinema too. Working some fourteen hours a day at the Café, his passion for cinema ensured that he wrote regularly on cinema for Mumbai newspapers. He was also part of the Selection Panel for MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Images), which organizes the Mumbai Film Festival. Here is their official website: https://www.mumbaifilmfestival.com/
Rashid Irani was born in a Parsi Zoroastrian family. His film reviews were a treat to read. Known as a fearless film critic, he spent a lifetime studying cinema by watching films and writing on them with a madness, a passion that must count as unparalleled. In one of his interviews, Rashid Irani recounts the story of how they bunked their tuition classes after school and ended up watching a Twentieth Century Fox production, starring Marilyn Monroe. Irani also says that Monroe was “seen as a dumb blonde”, which was misogynistic and incorrect because “she worked in all kinds of genres and roles”.
With MAMI, Rashid Irani’s work included watching hundreds of movies every year and distilling movies, which would be selected for the Mumbai Film Festival. So, in Rashid Irani, the world just lost someone who proved that if one follows one’s passion with a consummate craziness, one could be known as a stalwart professionally, even without formal training. And with his wide spectrum of cinematic experiences, he never became a ‘film snob’. Such was Rashid Irani. May his soul rest in peace and may some of his cinematic passion rub off on to each one of us.
In 1967 Rashid joined Suchiitra, a movie club we were running. In 1969 we attended IFFI at Delhi and since then he was regular at film festivals. He will watch the film till all the credit scroll is over!
Great human being with Simple life style . It’s a real void.