Meet the men behind visual effects and 3D marvel in Darshan-starrer Kurukshetra
Durgaprasad Ketha and Jeemon Pullelly Varghese discuss the efforts that went behind creating the visual spectacle of Kurukshetra
With digital effects becoming an integral part of Indian cinema, Kannada Cinema is surely not lagging behind. Durgaprasad Ketha, who has executed visual effects (VFX) in 25 films, mostly in South Indian languages, says working on Kurukshetra has allowed him to set a benchmark.
“I have been a fan of mythological films since childhood. Having grown up listening to Ramayana and Mahabharata, a film like Kurukshetra allowed me to execute my vision,” says Durgaprasad, who brought together around 550 professional technicians from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai. “The film has been made in 2D and 3D, and the latter version was delivered just a few weeks ago,” he says.
Durgaprasad has earlier worked on the VFX in the mythological film, Sri Rama Rajyam, starring Nandamuri Balakrishna. He was also associated with the war drama, Rudhramadevi, and executed a few crucial episodes of Baahubali Part 1 and 2. He is currently working as a VFX supervisor in Chiranjeevi’s 151st film, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy.
Kurukshetra, which stars Darshan as Duryodhana, is a bold attempt from producer Munirathna, he says. “He, along with the team, approached me for Kurukshetra, and said it was going to a big-budget film in Kannada. Accordingly, I went about giving a realistic approach to the historical,” he adds. Durgaprasad and his team took references from a few places and created the rest out of imagination. Whether it was the Maya Mahal, Hastinapur, Indraprastha, or the elephants, camels, and for that matter, even the eagle, seen in the recent trailer, everything was achieved through VFX.
“Maya Mahal is where all the miracles happen, and I wanted to give a galaxy-like feel to the audience. So we created a completely different ambience, of a beautiful exterior with snow and mountains. Similarly, Hastinapur, when seen from the top shot, can be visualised in the shape of an elephant, filled with rivers, ponds, etc. The elephant’s eyeball becomes the arena, and the trunk leads to different places. We also referred to the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, which became the background of the palace,” he explains.
According to Durgaprasad, the Kurukshetra war involved around 18 lakh people on the field, and a similar expanse has been created for the film too. “When it comes to Kurukshetra, the highlight has always been the gigantic war, for which I got the best support from Munirathna. He not only gave me the freedom but made sure that I got the required sources, including the 350-feet green mat, which helped me do better visual effects,” says Durgaprasad.
Creating visual effects cannot be bound by time, and that is an issue with Indian producers and director, he points out. “Everything is calculated here. They plan to release the film within a certain period, without taking into consideration the time required for computer graphics. It is a creative field, and ample time is needed to enhance it with better visual effects,” he stresses.
‘As an Indian, I feel proud to have worked on Kurukshetra epic tale in 3D’
Kurukshetra is said to be the first mythological film in 3D, and Folea Film Factory's Jeemon Pullelly Varghese, and his team feel a sense of pride to be the ones to come up with a 3D version.
“We are thrilled that we have worked for an epic film. People of different generations have watched Mahabharata in black and white, as well as colour. But a 3D version of Mahabharata will give a different dimension to the epic,” says Varghese, who was also a part of the first 3D Kannada film, Katari Veera Surasundarangi. “We have seen a lot of films, but mythology in 3D format is an achievement in itself. Being an Indian, I felt proud to have worked on a subject like Kurukshetra in 3D,” he adds.
The film was the result of around two years of work, involving around 150 people, says Varghese, adding that the toughest job was having to match the graphic portions, and converting them to 3D.
“Seventy per cent of the film is in 3D, and the war sequences were really tough to convert because of the crowd. We also got the support of a few people outside India in coming up with a 3D version,” he says. The company has worked for 3D films in Hollywood and Indian languages, such as Little Superman, Dracula, Dam999, Saint Dracula, Mayapuri, and Kamasutra. According to Varghese, a lot of Indian stories don’t have space for a 3D version, while in Hollywood, 3D is seen as the future.
“Production houses in India feel that 3D is a complicated technology, which requires a lot of time. So they avoid it,” says Varghese, adding that he wishes that the magnum opus Baahubali had a 3D version too