This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
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USA: Oye! Times readers Get FREE $30 to spend on Amazon, Walmart… Promptly at 3.45pm I knock on the door of Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha's Born Free Entertainment. To my surprise, everything's the same in there since the first time I walked in two years ago. I am guided to Sahil's private cabin to talk to him on their second outing – Bobby Jasoos starring Vidya Balan. Within 7 minutes, Dia shimmers in with the happy hammy air of an actress and welcomes me with a warm hug that suggests that despite being the busiest, she seems the happiest at this phase in her professional career. You get that feeling when you meet her. She's open, welcoming, warm, more concerned about your comfort than her own. Why? Because on my way back to the door after finishing my interview I'm greeted with delicious samosas and jalebis. That's why! Anyway, up close, Mirza's determination to succeed is almost tangible. She might be upbeat and cheery, but there's an intensity and a single-mindedness about her that got her to push her marriage dates with her partner Sahil Sangha and rather allot dates to Bobby Jasoos, the film. With two more movies being planned, and the Vidya Balan one going on floor in a month and a half, one thing is certain; Dia Mirza is now spreading herwings big-time!
Bobby Jasoos isn't a 'murder you solve' story is it?
I think what's exciting for all of us is that everybody has a preconceived notion of what a detective film should be, and in many ways Bobby Jasoos breaks that mold. More than anything else, the film is a journey of a character and a coming of age story of what a woman wants to be. The milieu, the world, the flavors, characters, and Bobby herself, all of this combined will break the prototype of what a detective film should be. From the word go, I recall, when Sanyukta Chawla even gave me the one liner of the story idea to me, I was most fascinated by the fact that it wasn't a typical detective film.
You got a call from Vidya when you were at the airport. Did anything like Argo happen there? Were you stopped and questioned?
(Laughs) I just had my mother and Sahil rush to me asking, "What happened?" I was like, "The best thing in the world just happened." And of course, Vidya being Vidya kept the suspense lingering. She played it up quite well. Actually she wanted all of us on a con-call and wanted to break the news that she's doing the film. Honestly, we were just waiting to hear back from her. It was a special day. The crazy thing was we were going to Delhi to work out our wedding dates and Vidya's call put our entire wedding plan into a tizzy. But her call was also the most exciting thing that happened I should say.
A second film of a two year old production house – a new director – Vidya Balan. Does this make it a risky proposition?
So far, everyone we've approached for the film, be it the technicians or actors, have said 'Yes' from the word go. That is a great indication that we are propelling the right energy and moving in the right direction. With Love Breakups Zindagi, we proved beyond doubt that we were able to make an aesthetic film. We made sure that we made the film in a budget, put it together and release it. The aim and aspiration of Born Free is to continue to offer opportunity to new and credible talent. The fact that Samar is a first time director is inconsequential. The opportunity is provided because the writing has come from his gut and he has lived this story. This isn't just my conviction or Sahil's conviction but Vidya's too. Bobby Jasoos isn't a tricky risky project.
Is Born Free ready to form an alliance with other studios and production houses too? Like how Balaji formed with Dharma and Dharma formed with Phantom?
Alliances happen when minds meet and people connect. When two well-intentioned people come together, good things happen. So whether it's a studio or production companies that you've mentioned who have far more experience than us, if they provide us with an opportunity, why not? On our own, Born Free would like to earn our recognition as an independent production company that can execute and can give out quality work.
Who gave the name 'Bobby Jasoos'?
Bobby Jasoos was interestingly christened with Jaideep Sahni. Many years ago, when Sanyukta met Jaideep and as script writers they were discussing the story, Jaideep had named the character then. We registered this title eight months ago. But when Jagga Jasoos name was revealed we were like – 'What is going on? Why are so many consciences aligned?" But that didn't force us to change our title because we have lived with it for so long and love it.
Was Vidya your first and the last choice?
The first thing you do when you hear Vidya Balan's name as a cast member is celebrate. I've worked with her. I love her. I've sat next to her at award functions and rooted for her. She's an incredible talent. I've loved every step she's taken. I knew deep in my mind that somebody special had do the part. I remember when Vidya said 'yes' to the film I sent a text to her that said – "Bobby Jasoos is very special and it needed someone special to play the part and I'm glad it's you." No one ever crossed my mind.
When do you start the shoot?
We will start the shoot in 45 days. We've done our recce. Principal cast is done, Technicians have been cast too, Secondary cast is locked by 30% and the music is being recorded. We will announce the other cast names in a week or so.
Do we see Born Free make more movies each year now, given the fact that you're working with Vidya Balan in just your second outing?
Since our formation, we've always wanted to release minimum one film a year. But such things can't be planned. We're not at the risk of being in a hurry to put a project together. Sahil is writing another film. It's an organic process.