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Bollywood goes 3D… again!

Time to wear tinted glasses and experience the unreal as Bollywood gears up to usher in the 3D film revolution with a gaggle of outings.

bollywood Updated: Feb 26, 2011 02:22 IST
Robin Bansal

Time to wear tinted glasses and experience the unreal as Bollywood gears up to usher in the 3D film revolution with a gaggle of outings.

Remember Chota Chetan – India's first 3D movie that left you gawking way back in 1984? Though its successors Shiva Ka Insaaf and Chhota Jaadugar couldn’t repeat history, Bollywood now has taken a U-turn with almost half a dozen 3D movies after the epic success of James Cameron’s Avatar.

“Producers are always looking for a success formula and after the success of Avatar worldwide, 3D is back in India. It is a new toy that we have. However, how it fares in Bollywood, we’ll have to wait and see,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Taking the lead is Vikram Bhatt’s horror thriller Haunted. Touted as India’s first stereoscopic 3D outing, the film uses the digital 3D cinematography and projection techniques seen in Avatar. Releasing May 6, it stars Mahakshay Chakraborty and Tia Bajpai.

“Having witnessed what Avatar had achieved not just at the box office but also on the technology and art front, the trend, is here to stay,” says Bhatt. “Indian audiences have loved the movies that have released earlier in 3D sformat and the movies have done fair business in India. 3D has the ability to draw the audiences in another kind of world,” he adds.

And why not, after all Cameron had said of his highly endorsed technology: “It is a window into a world where the format instead of calling attention to itself, disappears into the narrative. And at the end of the movie, the audience walks out of the theatre saying, ‘I didn’t see a movie, I experienced it’.“

The post-Avatar effect wasn’t restricted only to Bhatt. Veteran filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma has been on two 3D projects – an adventure and a horror, tentatively titled Amma and Warning starring John Abraham and Riteish Deshmukh respectively. Pooja Bhatt too was inspired enough to go on record to say Jism 2 will be India’s first 3D adult film.

Shirish Kunder’s Akshay Kumar-Sonakshi Sinha starrer Joker is not staying behind and has joined the race while superstar Shah Rukh Khan is reportedly contemplating to convert his upcoming superhero project Ra.One into 3D.

Rumour mills are abuzz that the highly awaited sequel to Mr.India and Shekhar Kapur’s Paani, set in futuristic Mumbai will reportedly also be in 3D. Joining the league are also director duo Abbas-Mustan with plans of a 3D thriller.

Shooting in the format, is, however, expensive in India vis-à-vis converting 2D content to 3D, says Merzin Tavaria of global visual entertainment services group Prime Focus, that has to its credit many Hollywood movies like Clash of the Titans, The Chronicles of Narnia – The Voyage of the Dawn Trader and Bollywood movies like Guzaarish in the recent times.

“The reasons being we don’t have any experienced technician here. Also the DOPs, stereographers and other technicians are not exposed to this technology yet, which makes it challenging to shoot in 3D in India. At the moment the other option available is 2D to 3D conversion and as far as the cost is concerned, it would depend on the filmmakers budget,” says Tavaria.

“3D conversion gives the filmmaker the luxury and the tools to sit in the comfort of a studio and make decisions watching his whole film,” he adds.

Wielding the megaphone for a 3D movie is not an easy task too.

“Making a 3D movie is obviously not like making a movie in 2D. You not just have the additional cost for equipment and lighting for a two-camera set-up but also the special rigs, the stereographers and requisite technology, post-production and special effects, and have to take also into account the extra time that one needs for the actual process of shooting,” says Bhatt.

Some know how’s about 3D
What is 3D?
3D stands for three-dimensional. 3D films are shot with special 3D stereoscopic digital motion picture cameras that use special sensors instead of film to capture high definition digital images. This is complemented with special projection equipment and spectacles that are used to provide the illusion of depth when viewing the film.

Number of 3D screens in India
It has been rapidly growing in India, going from around 40-50 screens at the time of Avatar’s release to around 120-130 screens today. 3D screens will likely double by the time of Haunted’s release to 250-300.

At the FICCI meet in Mumbai last year, multiplex owners and distributors had expressed interest in the new format and announced that they would get about 500 3D screens ready in a year or two.

Other facilities in India
Reliance MediaWorks Ltd announced a strategic alliance with LA-based In-Three to establish the world’s largest facility dedicated to the conversion of 2D films and videos into 3D, based in India.

Current state
India does not have stereographers who can handle complex arrangements of various cameras and lenses to produce a quality 3D shot so we are still importing stereographers. The country either relies on facilities like Prime Focus or converting 2D to 3D.