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Bollywood goes the digital way

The Hindi film industry is increasingly using special effects to show grandiosity. Princy Jain tells more.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 18:12 IST

Remember that scene from Rang De Basanti where a gigantic MIG 21 hovers barely an arm’s length away from Aamir and his gang? Or that vertigo-inducing fort in Dhoom2 where Hrithik and Ash do their ‘rope-trick’ to steal a prized gem?
Well, folks here’s the scoop.

These jaw-dropping images are not from life. They are part of the computer-generated abracadabra of the mirage wizard VFX or visual effects.

The concept is not new to Bollywood. If it’s creating a sonic boom in contemporary cinema, it’s courtesy the access to this state-of-the-art technology.

The zest with which Indian filmmakers are embracing all things digital is adding to the cumulative effect.

The Magic of VFX:
Sample this. In Mani Ratnam’s Guru, Abhishek Bachchan meets Mithun Chakraborty for the first time at Marine Drive. So what’s new? The dope is the scene was actually shot in Pondicherry! It was then blended on the computer to culture a period look.

Explains Merzin Taveria, creative director Prime Focus, “We used a technique called matte painting to recreate the 1950s era. The last scene was also digitally crafted, as it required a shot of over a 1000 people in a stadium.”

Digital paint-brush:
The idea is to create a seamless effect, says Pankaj Kandepur, creative director, Visual Computing Lab, Tata Exilis, who gave the VFX touch in films like RDB, Fanaa, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Dhoom2.

“The air craft in RDB, the football ground in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and the Fort in Dhoom2 were all computer-generated,” he says.

The creative curve is being stretched with each film. We hear the same digital wizardry will figure in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Akbar Jodha. Pankaj’s team will rustle up more of that VFX magic to create the battle scenes with 100s of elephants, horses and men. As things go, voila, the future may well belong to VFX.