Ra.One: India's Iron Man
Ra.One is the maiden feature by Bollywood superstar and producer Shah Rukh Khan (nicknamed SRK and King Khan) from his entertainment production company, redchillies.vfx. He began his career with the TV serial Fauzi and became an overnight heartthrob. His last film, My Name is Khan, was an international hit. SRK now wants to conquer the hearts of children, not by adorning a special suit -- the costliest worn to date by any hero onscreen in India -- but by providing a superhero to children. The intention is to shake up viewers across the world utilizing some of the latest CG advancements. Mamta Narang interviews Jeff Kleiser (who served as lead visual effects supervisor) along with the heads of redchillies.vfx: Harry Hingorani (production director and vfx supervisor) and Keitan Yadav (COO and vfx producer). Ra.One is slated to be released in October coinciding with the Diwali festival.
Mamta Narang: What's the total VFX budget of Ra.One?
Keitan Yadav: At this point in time, this can't be disclosed, but all I can say is that this is the most expensive and one of a kind VFX movie done in India to date. The VFX budget is enormous like the budget of a big Bollywood blockbuster.
MN: What has been the most challenging work in Ra.One to date?
Harry Hingorani: Sixty % of work in Ra.One is visual effects. We have around 37 sequences and a majority of them are difficult and time consuming, as you can see in the trailer. The most challenging sequence is the suit of SRK, which is a combination of visual effects plus reality.
Jeff Kleiser: We have spent a good deal of time developing the pipelines for the cubic transformations in the film. There are actually six or seven different algorithms required to facilitate all the on-screen action, and the development and testing of these pipelines has been the most challenging aspect of the show for me.
KY: We started the Redchillies.vfx in 2006. Shah Rukh Khan wanted to make something big involving VFX and that was the intension behind starting redchillies.vfx. We gained knowledge. We didn't do any projects after the movie My Name is Khan. We had 150 artists just focused on doing the research and development. We concentrated on setting up the right team and the software in the preproduction. The shooting started on March 2010 after extensive R&D.
MN: What's unique about Ra.One?
HH: A superhero is being offered to children, which has never been done in Indian cinema before and this global team.
MN: How many professionals are working officially? How is the management done?
KY: We have been working 24 hours, in multiple shifts and on multiple shots and sequences. At times, multiple studios are working on one shot. There are 300 artists from redchillies.vfx out of a total of 650-700 people working at other studios worldwide.
MN: How many shots are there?
KY: There are 3,500 + shots amounting to about 2 hours and 15 minutes of combined VFX. A major chunk is happening at redchillies.vfx. We have planned much in advance and have outsourced the work pretty early to curb the domino effects of delays.