Vidyut has made his production debut with IB 71
Last Updated: 08.56 AM, May 10, 2023
Vidyut Jammwal has turned a producer for the first time with IB 71. Also an actor in the movie, Vidyut feels that the film needed to be made so people know who Intelligence Bureau are. He further spoke about how hearing the story of Ganga attacks got him hooked to the film within 10 minutes.
Vidyut talks to OTTplay about what went into making the film, getting Anupam Kher on board and more. He also spoke about his upcoming film Krack and turning a producer for the second time with it.
Excerpts from the interview…
Tell me about the title. How did you finalise IB 71? Was there another tentative title?
IB is Intelligence Bureau, the secret service of India. We've not had a movie on IB. It is the story of 1971. Thus, IB 71. It was the biggest mission of the secret service. It is one of the reasons why India and the secret service has been revered across the globe. It's one of the biggest missions and one of the most impossible things. I don't think a mission like this can be executed today.
Take me back to when the idea germinated. What clicked so that you thought this story should be told?
I have a friend who came with the story of the Ganga attack. I knew about the Ganga hijack but not to that extent. So, I started hearing about it and within 10 minutes, I was mortified. That was the moment I felt that we should work on such movies.
Then we started searching for the director who would understand the passion I had for the project. I saw The Ghazi Attack long ago. Sankalp Reddy was a director I wanted to work with ever since. I just thought why not try asking him if he's interested and then I got in touch with him. The moment he heard it, he felt that we have to do a movie like this. It was simple.
While a few feel that the war should remain history, others believe it needs to be retold to understand what went down. Which side are you on when it comes to the 1971 war?
Some things inspire you and tell you about yourself. When we go back in history, we find a lot of similarities of situations, people, kindness, not being kind. Then we can choose what we want to be. If history is told like it is, that is perfect. It was very important with IB 71. It is a 50-year-old story. We had to dwell into all the realities. So, I think history should be spoken about because why should we deny something that we have been a part of?
How did Anupam Kher come on board? Was it because of his roots, since you mentioned this is based in J&K?
There are two very important people to be cast in the movie. One was my mentor, that would be Anupam Kher and the other would be the 30 agents. That was a massive process because Anupam Kher sir, when we were thinking about the man, we only thought of him. The moment Sankalp and me came on the name, we decided that we should ask him. He had a detailed narration and the aurora of questions, which had to be answered. And then more, and then more. After that, he finally said that she wanted to be a part of the film. The 30 agents were not as easy because we wanted great actors. When you go and audition in Mumbai, they have a repertoire of people they give you - that these actors are working and they have worked in this. There are actors who sit in the wings and don't get a job. I have to say that NSD produces the best actors. When they're in Mumbai, there are very few people who're doing great work and most of them are talented. What we did at my production company Action Hero Films is that we went and searched for people who have done great calibre but have done small roles. We also looked at talents who haven't auditioned. We got on the road and that's how we found these 30.
Tell me what it was about the movie that made you feel like you could make your production debut with it.
One of the reasons was that we didn't have a movie on IB, a full-fledged movie. Every country speaks very highly about their secret services. Everybody knows about Mossad, ISI, KGB, CIA. There's Mission Impossible on the British special services but in India, we don't have any story. Hence, we don't know much about the secret service. When I ask my fellow friends, they get a little confused about what really is the secret service - is it RAW, IB, CID. They have different names. Thus, it was important to make a movie like this. When IB came to me, it was imperative because we need to talk about the story. It was India's glory and biggest victory.
What was it like being an actor who needs to give it all and then being a producer who also needs to work on a tight budget?
In my personal experience, when a story comes to you, then you start deciding what you want to do with it. Once you've started deciding and as you come to a conclusion, you decide this is the amount and then you make the movie in exactly that amount. If you can't afford to make a movie, I don't think you should make it. It wasn't as complicated. When you go shopping and want to buy a shoe, you know in your head how much you can spend but you want the best of it. Then you find the best and just do it.
Currently, there is this pan-Indian culture. Every movie is released in every language. Was that your original plan with the film?
No, we didn't have any such plan. The film is pan India and it will release pan India but in Hindi.
There is, like you mentioned, a lot of sensitive information that you processed during the making of IB-71. Automatically, you get a sense of responsibility from that. So, how did you deal with that and ensure that there was no kind of compromise on that front?
We had to do a lot of research and by that, I don't mean just newspaper cuttings from the past. This is a story and case not mentioned a lot in history. Apart from just reading everything that was there, we had to go into what has been written from the opposite side - what has the other country has written about - then we mixed-and-matched everything. We started meeting officers, people and RAW agents from that era, officers from the IB. They did not give us any information. As much as we could, we came close to reality.
Was it difficult to get the whole picture, since you didn't have all the information?
We did have information. People did not know about it. People who are aware and have been a part of that journey, had a great idea about the Ganga attack. Everybody knew that there was Ganga hijack. Everybody knows that India and Pakistan fought but very few knew that China was involved in the whole war. India divided Pakistan into two in just 13 days. I was just mentioning that there's a massive war happening right now between Russia and another country, which is much smaller than the previous one. It's been one year. They've lost about 65,000 lives but in the 71 mission, we made around 93,000 people surrender and turn it into East Pakistan. It is extremely tough to complete this mission in 13 days. I don't think it is possible in the future. Thus, it was important.
What is the update on Krack?
We have finished about 60% of the shoot. I'm excited because we're working with the best athletes in the world. It's the first extreme sport movie out of India. We're trying to raise the bar one more time. So, I hope it satisfies people and they stop saying that why is it that India doesn't make such great action movies like Hollywood. We've tried to achieve that.
It is your second production film. What is that experience like?
It's good. I'm really enjoying being a producer because I've been an actor for a very long time and I realized that there can be a lot of changes in making people happy on the sets, getting them better food, giving them better facilities, giving more people opportunities and working with talent that normally not many people do - from editors, directors, writers - we've opened a writer's room in Action Hero Films. A person could be from anywhere in the country. If they have a story and they want to tell it and they don't know who to say it to, we ask them to send a mail and we read everything. There are resumes of editors and directors from across. This is what we're doing. I'm excited about producing because I know I've been given a chance by somebody who believed in me. I see so much talent. I want to work with everybody.
Did you want to become a producer before or it happened now at the right time, according to you?
I don't plan so much. You need to pass the eighth grade to get into tenth and then college and so on, right? Once you graduate, you want to post-graduate too because it's so much fun. It's a process that just happened. What I was clear about was that I want to work with talent that not many people work with. That's the change I wanted to be. I always heard people say that people should do this but I've never seen people really do it. So, I thought why not do it? That's what I'm doing. I'm excited. I didn't plan on it but it's a good plan though.