Cinematographer and producer, Nariman Ardeshir Irani was born and educated in Bombay. Always fond of photography, Nariman’s interest took a huge turn when he watched Andaz (1949). To get work in films, he approached veteran Faredoon Irani, who was a distant relative, for advice and guidance. Faredoon helped him and introduced him to the Mistry brothers, Jal Mistry and Fali Mistry, who were then working for Famous Studios. In no time, Nariman joined them as an apprentice and at the end of three years was made the first assistant.
Two years later, director Shahid Lateef gave him his first independent assignment with the film Darwaza (1954). After that Nariman shot many films including Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), Sone Ki Chidiya (1958), Manzil (1960), Phool Aur Patthar (1966), Saraswatichandra (1968), Talash (1969), Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973), Roti Kapda aur Makaan (1974), Majboor (1974), Chhailla Babu (1977), Don (1978) and Dostana (1980). Nariman was awarded the Filmfare award for Best Cinematography in Black and White, for the film Saraswatichandra (1968) in 1968. In 1970, he was awarded the National Film Award for Best Cinematography for the same film.
He set up his own production concern Nariman Films under which he produced Zindagi Zindagi (1972) and Don (1978). While the former flopped badly at the box-office, leaving Nariman in debts, the latter was made to bail him out of the red. While Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman and Pran took the leading roles in film cast, Salim-Javed penned the story for the film.
Sadly, he was not able to complete the film as he died in an accident in 1977, while he was shooting for another film at Rajkamal Studios in Mumbai. It was reported that because of a sudden cloudburst a wall fell on him while he was preparing to take a shot. He was immediately hospitalized but passed away soon after that incident.
On Don’s 42nd anniversary, Amitabh Bachchan remembered Nariman Irani. He shared, “While he was shooting for a film Nariman Bawa suddenly noticed that the set where they were working was about to crumble and fall. A young child was playing around it. Nariman, fearing the kid would get crushed, ran and jumped on the kid and saved him but in doing so he injured himself, as he fell.”
The film Don was then completed after his death and eventually turned out a big hit.
He was survived by his wife, Salma Irani, and two sons, Nadir and Nadeem.
Nariman Irani’s home banner Nariman Films was revived 18 years later by his sons, Nadir and Nadeem, with the Suniel Shetty-starrer Shastra (1996).