Man, That's Super!

24 Jun

Man, that’s super!

Hrithik Roshan owes his Hollywood-style superpowers in Krrish to a studio right here in India, writes Bhumika K.

SUPERMAN SLAMDUNK Hrithik Roshan has whizzed down multistoreyed buildings and ridden the airwaves, thanks to new-age visual effects

Have you been ogling a particularly sinewy, wavy-haired dude digging his heels into grass and mud, bouncing off boulders effortlessly, flying over trucks, and flying Tai Chi-style over streets of Singapore, jumping from building to building? It’s Hrithik Roshan in his latest avatar in Krrish.

Only he’s very reminiscent of Spiderman, Superman, Neo in The Matrix, a bit of Crouching Tiger… and a few other heroes all rolled in one and blown up a 100 times over by the standards of visual special effects in Indian movies. And it’s all stamped “Made in India”.

Yes, if that brought you down with a thud after all that flying with Hrithik, you must listen to the guys who made him look as cool as a cucumber… and as cool as Hollywood. Almost. (We haven’t seen the movie still, have we?).

Chennai-based Prasad EFX, one of the largest digital post-production studios in India, has woven the digital magic and visual special effects into Krrish. The effects run into almost 90 minutes in this Rakesh Roshan sequel of Koi Mil Gaya, brandished about as being a trendsetter with “never before” visual special effects (VFX) on the Indian screen.

“There are about 1,200 digitally-manipulated shots in the film and they have been done to the standard of Hollywood,” says Mohan Krishnan, head of corporate communications of the Prasad Group. An average Indian film with special effects would have around 200 to 300 shots with special effects.

Hollywood’s VFX supervisors Craig Mumma and Marc Kolbe, who have worked on the effects of films like Independence Day and Godzilla, supervised the work at Prasad EFX. A team of 60 Indians slogged for well over six months to create the special visuals for the film. “It’s the first film we have completely executed for Hollywood supervisors. They are perfectionists, completely into details,” says Kilari Himakumar, senior line producer at Prasad EFX, who was the project manager for this film.

Director Rakesh Roshan had a very clear brief when he approached the company — he wanted nothing less than Hollywood. In fact Roshan first went to Los Angeles where he approached Mumma and Kolbe to do the effects. They in turn zeroed in on Prasad EFX to execute the work. Initially, Rakesh Roshan was apprehensive whether they would meet his Hollywood-standard demand. Craig and Mumma have earlier worked on a few projects together with the company on films like Koi Mil Gaya and a Hollywood production Sound of Thunder. In fact, Rakesh Roshan was so impressed finally with the work, he even told them: “People who have seen the film say that you cannot say this film is like Hollywood, it is Hollywood.”

In fact they had to do a 360 degree scan of Hrithik’s body in Los Angeles to create a basic digital model of the hero. Then other high-end 3D modelling, animation, compositing, modelling and other effects were added on. “We even developed his hair for certain scenes with a special software,” pitches in Himakumar. They have also visualised, designed and implemented an entire futuristic lab sequence, apart from 3D modelling of cars, bikes, helicopters, birds, and animals to match the live footage. They have also digitally enhanced some parts of the film where every little particle of earth Hrithik kicks up on a run is highlighted and every splinter of wood falling down when an axe hits it looks dramatically surreal.

As they explain the effects, they run a shot of Hrithik Roshan flipping around in an action sequence over another actor’s shoulder from a bike! “The bike was added later in the studios,” offers Himakumar, demonstrating the extent to which things can be altered with digital technology. “We even erased the legs off a table. Studios in Los Angeles would charge nearly Rs. 25 lakh to do this alone!”

Talking of costs, the entire post-production and digitisation, the Digital Intermediate service (where the movie is digitally corrected, cleaned up and enhanced in terms of look and feel), visual effects and prints for the film came at a whopping Rs. 15 crore (around 20 per cent of the purportedly Rs. 50 crore-budget film).

Ever since they have done Krrish, the studio is in talks with many Hollywood and European studios to execute VFX for mainstream international films, says Krishnan. “Thanks to the Indian IT industry, we no longer have to sell India. We only have to sell our own work and capabilities.” The extent of this outsourcing possibility is huge and could bring in work worth two million US dollars from a single project, he says.

Hindu On Net

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