There is a huge audience that loves James Bond, its delineated heroes, the fictional journey, and the fall of the enemy. A major reason to root for a hero is if a spy film is inspired by a true story and the enemy country is Pakistan.
Stories to do with this subject need not be contemporary. All we need is a tight, edge-of-the-seat thriller. Sankalp Reddy’s IB 71 is one such surprise.
In an exclusive chat with South First, the filmmaker says that IB 71 is actually supposed to be a prelude to Ghazi (2017). It is about the Indo-Pak war of 1971 when East Pakistan was transformed into Bangladesh.
IB 71 is the story of an IB (Intelligence Bureau) agent coming out with a plan to save the nation by closing off its airspace to prevent an attack from Pakistan and China. Excerpts from the interview with Sankalp Reddy.
Q. What went wrong with your second directorial — Antariksham 9000 KMPH?
A. While Ghazi gave me a high and won the National Award (for the best feature film in Telugu), Antariksham (Space, 2018) let me down.
The film was lauded technically, but emotions-wise, something went missing. There was no strength in its story.
I did an introspection after the debacle and I have learnt from the experience.
Q. Your films are centred around a patriotic fervour, would you elaborate on this?
A. Antariksham is about an astronaut who corrects an erratic satellite.
My latest, IB 71, is a real story that deals with an Indian spy operation. I never had patriotism as the heading and made films. It was a coincidence and I don’t make films with patriotism in my head.
Q. Is this your story?
A. Vidyut Jammwal had this idea and story. He was looking for a director and approached me after the release of Ghazi. Ghazi is a proper war film, Antariksham is a space adventure, and IB 71 is a spy film.
Q. When did the shoot take place?
A. IB 71 is actually a prequel to Ghazi. If you see the events, even before the 1971 War, the submarine sank in the Bay of Bengal.
A couple of months ago, when the Indian airspace was blocked, I shifted to Mumbai. I was there for two years due to the Covid pandemic. We shot the film last year.
Here’s how the #WorldOfIB71 came to life for India’s Top Secret Mission.
Watch the video now – https://t.co/ifwYbb3wb6
— Vidyut Jammwal (@VidyutJammwal) May 10, 2023
Q. Did you rewrite the script?
A. Yes, I took the idea and wrote the script and screenplay.
After that, I formed a team. We did good research and executed it. I narrated the screenplay to many people and took their feedback.
I should have done this to Antariksham, too
Q. What were the changes you made?
A. It is a real event that happened 50 years ago. It is a secret operation. Whatever was shown in the film happened historically, but I took a few cinematic liberties for entertainment.
The plane landing event and the scuffle in the hotel are the changes I made. In reality, the plane was not allowed to land.
We landed it and it was subsequently burnt. The people were allowed to stay in a hotel.
30 agents, 10 days, and 1 top secret mission that was hidden for 50 years!
Witness this incredible true story that made us win the 1971 Indo-Pak war. #IB71Trailer out now!
— Vidyut Jammwal (@VidyutJammwal) April 24, 2023
Q. Tell us something about the research
A. If you google “Ganga Hijack”, you can see the pictures of the plane. We researched for seven-eight months or perhaps more. We took material from libraries, museums, national archives, newspapers, etc.
It took us a year to write the story. We discussed the colour scheme for months with cinematographer Gnana Shekar.
Q. How was Kashmir?
A. Kashmir is a tourist spot. While shooting, we were in a work mindset every day to even notice anything untoward.
There was good security, and we had no fear.
We kept spotting the military here and there. We did read articles about blasts and other activities in the newspapers. But nothing affected us as we were fully engrossed with work.
If anyone could have had fear, it could be the producers because they were in charge of everything.