Vidhu Vinod Chopra was born in Kashmir and studied film making in Pune at the Film and Television Institute. He won a National Award very early in his career, and is now known as the man behind films like 1942 – A Love Story, Mission Kashmir and Eklavya.
He is also the producer of cult movies like Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. and India’s top box-office performer film of all times, 3 Idiots. Vidhu Vinod Chopra was in London recently with his wife and well-known critic and journalist Anupama Chopra, where he spoke to our London reporter Sunny Malik about his upcoming movies and Ferrari Ki Sawaari, the first film to be shot at Lords Cricket ground. The climax scene was shot here over two days and the film, starring Sharman Joshi and Boman Irani, is not only about a Ferrari as the title suggests. Read on to find out more:
You are here to shoot your production Ferrari Ki Saawari in London. How has it been so far?
It’s been great. We are shooting at Lords over the weekend and this is the first movie that is actually being shot at Lord’s Cricket Ground. They first said no to us, then we sent them our storyboard and the script of our movie and they graciously permitted us to shoot here.
Why was it so necessary to shoot the film at Lord’s Cricket Ground?
This is actually the first time ever that a Vinod Chopra Films production has come out of India and I would not know this, but my executive producer sent me an e-mail saying that she has worked for VCF for twenty-five years and this is the first time we are going out of India and so she wanted to come along (laughs).
The story demands us to come here and shoot in London. I believe in scripts. I believe in cinema to be real. I don’t believe in cutting from Bandra to Switzerland for a song. The end of the movie is Lord’s Cricket Ground, that’s what the movie is about. It’s about a twelve-year old cricketer whose dream is to go to Lords. Because it is in the script, that’s why we came here. We could have shot anywhere and could have saved a lot of money by shooting in some stadium in India and pretending that its Lords.
What else is the film about besides Cricket?
It’s a film about three generations; the young kid, a twelve-year-old, his father Sharman Joshi, who has done an incredible job in the film and his father, played by Boman Irani. Boman is a dejected, disheartened and unhappy cricketer. The young kid wants to play cricket and the disheartened grandfather does not want to encourage him. It is really a film about these three people and also, it’s a film about Ferrari as the title suggests. It’s about a Ferrari being stolen to send this young boy to Lords and then that car gets stolen itself, so it is a fun movie, a lot of fun. But mainly it is about family.
The film was in the news for being offered to a few big actors. How did you decide on casting Sharman Joshi for the leading role?
Let me first explain why I produce films. I produce films because I can have Sharman in Ferrari Ki Sawaari. If I was not producing the film, somebody else would have been the star of this movie as there were big stars, who were interested in playing the role. The economics of putting a big star, a Khan in the movie and putting him (Sharman) in the movie is incredible. But Sharman did a screen test. I was in America (for Broken Horses) when the test came to me and I was very reluctant to see the test as I was at that time, working with some of the finest actors in the world. I was thinking not watch it and Sharman was to come to LA and I just had to see it. I could not believe it, when I finally saw the test.
I couldn’t believe that an Indian actor could do a test as good as what he had done. When he came, I just hugged him and told him the film is yours. I am so proud of that call because now the film is almost ready and I’ve seen it and its just incredible what he has done.
Which other actors will be seen in the film?
Sharman and Boman are the only known actors in the film. We looked at about three thousand children all over India before we found the young boy.
You are also trying to keep his look under the wraps.
Yes, because he is such a gifted child. He is just incredible. He was a long search and was found very dramatically. One of the assistants was in McDonalds, having a coffee when he saw the boy paying the bill. The kid was telling his mother to stay seated and that He will take care of everything. The assistant went up to the mother and told her that he would like to audition him for the part. They thought it’s a big joke. He told them it’s Vinod Chopra Films and invited them to our office and gave them our number.
The father called the next day, thinking it was a hoax but it was real number and they came to a real office. There they saw other kids rehearsing and so they knew that it was serious. That is how he rehearsed and we got this gifted child.
You wrote the story of the film. Where did you get the idea from?
My son, Agni Dev Chopra, plays cricket. He has been in the papers lately, he is doing really well and is very young. Sachin Tendulkar’s son plays cricket too, so Arjun and Agni play cricket together. They are lovely kids and seeing them everyday inspired me to make Ferrari Ki Sawaari.
You are only shooting film on real locations. Is that not more difficult with a live audience watching the filming when you are trying to keep everything under the wraps?
It’s such a real film that I don’t want to bring any falsehood to it. It’s taken me three and a half years to write this film. I believe the script of Ferrari Ki Sawaari is actually much better than the script of 3 Idiots. Also, I have to prove a point that, if let’s say in Ferrari Ki Sawaari we have Sharman, and let’s say in 3 Idiots we did not have a big star. Let’s say we had Ranbir Kapoor playing Aamir Khan’s character. I believe the film would still have been successful. I believe you would still see the film. I want to really tell the world its finally the filmmaker, the music, the script, the movie that makes the difference. I respect actors, I respect stars and I respect the fact that they can pull in an audience but finally it’s the movie.
You have again written the story for Broken Horses too. Where do you go for inspiration?
I write at home and get all my inspiration from there. That’s why I never go out of India to make movies (laughs).
What is the current status of the film?
It is currently on hold because of the casting.
Which other films will you be making in the near future?
We have, apart from Ferrari Ki Saawari, a film called Chitthiyan which will go into production soon. We also have a film by Rajkumar Hirani that will be started soon. We also have a thriller coming up so the next two years will probably be very busy for us (smiles).
Ferrari Ki Sawaari will release on the 27th of April 2012.
Picture credit: Nelson