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Giving wings to dreams

Last updated: 19 February, 2011

Film Production

Zayed Khan, Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha recently launched a banner titled Born Free. Through this venture, the trio wants to make socially-relevant commercial films, writes Rajiv Vijayakar

They co-starred six years back in Dus, yet again in Cash, and have been buddies ever since. Zayed Khan, actor-son of Sanjay Khan, and Diya Mirza, ex-Miss Asia Pacific, actor and activist, have joined hands to launch Born Free Entertainment Pvt Ltd, a banner under which they will make movies they believe in.

Their first production, Love, Breakups, Zindagi, went on the floors on February 15 and apart from Dia and Zayed, it stars a host of newcomers. The film is directed by Sahil Sangha, the third partner of Born Free. The company’s symbol is a butterfly, signifying beauty. And what about the company’s name? Says Dia, “A newborn is free from fear and willing to explore and grow.” Quips Zayed, “It is about looking beyond the horizon.”

Idea conceptualisation
How did Dia (now ten years in the industry) and Zayed (born in a film family) decide to turn partners? “It was an organic decision!” agree both partners. Adds Dia, “There was this action-comedy film whose script we were reading. Around that time, I got an idea to make our own film. When I shared it with Zayed, he was charged as well. And that’s how Love, Breakups, Zindagi was first conceived.” Agrees Zayed, “We did not consciously turn producers. It was the film’s concept that made us take the step. We thought that we needed to make the film in the right way with the right sensibilities.”

Sahil Sangha, who left a cushy banking job in New York to follow his passion for making cinema, is the third man on board. He developed and gave form to Dia’s concept. Zayed is very happy with Sahil, who, he feels, is passionate about his work, is creative, and technically skilled.

How do they divide their responsibilities as producers? “Sahil is the leader, the marketing guy, Zayed is the force who cracks the big deals, while I look after the little details!” says Dia. The mandate is clear, feels Zayed. “Born Free wants to make universally-appealing films with social relevance. In a field where there is a shortfall of new ideas, we aim to make feel-good cinema; light films that also have their roots in the Indian culture, packed with the right emotions,” he adds.

Tisca Chopra, Cyrus Sahukar and newcomers Umang, Satyadeep Mishra, Auritra Ghosh, Pallavi and Vaibhav will star in Love, Breakups, Zindagi. Why did they sign up so many newcomers when today, most actors turn producers only to do pivotal, meaty roles in their own films? “I think this proves that Zayed and I are not selfish actors!” declares Dia.

“This is a story that needs to be told and Zayed and I are sharing a common platform with other actors because we needed to cast new talent.” Her partner adds and says, “It is so important to have new energy flowing in,” while Dia raves, “Sandhya Mridul has started a casting agency called Outcast and this is the first film she has worked on.

She has done the casting after absorbing the script and auditioning actors even for the smallest roles, because this aspect is not given much importance in many big budget films. It is important for us that even actors with small roles must play their part aptly. Thanks to Sandhya, we have some incredible talent on board.”

Economics of the business

With Sahara One Motion Pictures coming in as a backer, Dia and Zayed are upbeat about the financial aspect of their project. “The costing and pricing must be right. We have to make sure that we do not overprice our product!

This film was a lesson for me to understand the business of cinema,” says Zayed, while Dia provides the details. “Our pre-production stage lasted for five months. We also conducted a workshop for weeks so that my actors know exactly what they will look like, wear and also understand their character sketch. To add to it, where will they shoot? We are spending in areas where we believe money needs to be invested. For instance, we have roped in Javed Akhtar for the lyrics. Areas where we believe we can save money, we are doing so,” she says.

Dia, who is concentrating fully on the production house, is not shooting for any other film. She believes that a film needs to be a perfect marriage between entertainment and intelligent cinema. “And our film has both these elements!” she says.

Zayed, on the other hand, is shooting for Tezz with Priyadarshan and is busy juggling between his responsibilities as a producer and actor. And will the action-comedy film come next? Laughs Dia, “It will!” But Zayed ends on a cautionary note, “We are passionate about making films and are doing exactly that. We will take things easy. As of now, we are looking at two releases a year.”

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