I want to protect him from the world: Vidhu Vinod Chopra


By Hindustan Times

Vidhu Vinod Chopra is keeping the little ‘hero’ of his cricket-centric film, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, strictly under wraps. The film’s first teaser was unveiled along with last year’s Christmas attraction, Don 2, but the boy wonder still remains a nameless entity. No wonder, since his name doesn’t
feature in the credits yet. And no media interactions or photo sessions are accepted till the movie’s release on April 27.

“I want to protect him from the world. I don’t want an innocent mind to be corrupted by the sudden attention and end up selling everything from soap to cereals. Kids should be treated like kids and not young adults,” says Vinod, himself a concerned parent.

Ferrari Ki Saawari revolves around an eight year old’s dreams of playing at Lord’s some day. Vinod admits that he must have ‘looked’ at over 1,000 boys while scouting for his star. “I went as far as the cricket academy in Dehradun and Roger Binny’s academy in Bangalore but somehow none of them matched up,” the writer-producer reminisces.

Eventually, his ‘hero’ was spotted at a McDonald’s outlet in Mumbai by one of the assistants of debutant director Rajesh Mapuskar. “The child, who is nine, was with his mother and when Raju’s assistant approached her with the offer of a film role, she tagged him as a pest and asked him to stay away,” Vinod recalls with a laugh.

Fortunately for him, the assistant had the presence of mind to mention that to the agitated lady that the movie was a Vinod Chopra Films production and even managed to slip her a number in case she decided to bring her son over for a ‘test’. Back in the office, he clued in Rajesh’s secretary, Smita, about the ‘perfect’ child he’d discovered and told her, fingers crossed, to expect a call.

Later that evening, the boy’s mother told her husband about the strange encounter. Initially, the offer was dismissed as bakwas (rubbish) but on second thoughts, the couple decided to call the number to see if it was for real. Smita told them that they were auditioning children at the office and invited them for a visit.

They did, on the day when 20 other children were in a workshop. He didn’t join the group the first day but eventually enrolled for the workshop and soon was in the driving seat of a snazzy Ferrari. “He’s super!” says an excited Vinod, careful not to mention his actor’s name, “but he doesn’t know it, not having seen a single frame of the film yet.”

The filmmaker remembers that when they were auditioning for the role of Chatur in 3 Idiots (2009), Omi Vaidya was the only actor who didn’t know a word of Hindi. So, when he had to say, “Mujhe paani do” (Give me some water), he held up two fingers because in his mind ‘do’ was two and not give. And that was what worked for him.

“All through the making of the film, no one spoke to Omi or taught him a word of Hindi and that was what made his performance so real. I’m hoping to keep my new discovery just as natural,” reasons Vinod. “It still seems incredible that after searching for him all over the country, I found my sawaari (ride) in McDonald’s in Mumbai, may be in Dombivilli or was it Andheri?”