The visual effects industry is fast emerging in India and has recorded an unprecedented growth over the years
While the Indian film industry has a lot of catching up to do in terms of technology when compared to international standards, it has made some long strides in the last few years. 2018 was an eventful year for the Indian VFX industry, offering an even bigger slate of experiential viewing for the audience.
Be it Rajinikanth’s 2.0, Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero or Aamir’s Thugs of Hindostan, visual effects did not take a back seat and was an integral part of film-making.
Playing the role of a vertically challenged man, Shah Rukh Khan got around 1.5 feet shorter on screen. This drastic difference was seamlessly visible on the big screen due to VFX. According to estimates, over Rs 70 crore was spent on visual effects in the film, which had around 5,000 VFX shots.
Before the release of 2.0, director Shankar Shanmugham had claimed that the film will be India's first $75 million VFX wonder. He said so because 10 different VFX companies were on board to work on the special effects in the film. He had also confirmed that more than 3,000 technicians from around the world had worked on the movie.
Makers of Thugs of Hindostan had claimed that the VFX incorporated in the film were Hollywood-level. Apart from the aforementioned films, Sara Ali Khan’s Kedarnath (flood sequences) and Ranveer Singh’s Simmba were also brimming with visual effects in 2018.
The visual effects industry is fast emerging in India and has recorded an unprecedented growth over the years. Apart from overseas demand, firms working on VFX are getting involved in local projects right from the beginning. Special effects is no more an afterthought but is being integrated right at the scripting stage.
A few years ago, a mere 10 percent of filmmakers understood the nuances of VFX. Now, about half of the filmmakers in India show an inclination to including VFX in their projects as they understand the impact it can bring to the overall project.
According to a 2017 KPMG report titled Media for the masses: The promise unfolds, the VFX revenue from domestic projects is likely to grow at a CAGR of over 31 percent during 2016-2021. The demand will not only come from Hindi films, but also from regional movies — with producers in these industries pouring in more investments in VFX, the report added.
Directors belonging to the Malayalam film industry are betting big on visual effects. In fact, they are exploring genres like that of superhero which was out of reach for them a few years ago. The new terrains also include films from science fiction and survival thriller categories. According to them, directors are now aware of the possibilities that visual effects can offer.
In fact, it was Baahubali, a Telugu film, that had brought VFX to the vanguard in regional language films. South Indian cinema is also competing neck and neck with Bollywood in terms of VFX use. VFX in Baahubali: The Beginning had cost Rs 85 crore. Baahubali: The Conclusion had used 33 animation studios for post-production VFX, working over a span of 15 months.
Mollywood is planning its first superhero film. Last year, Tamil cinema delivered India’s first space film – Tik Tik Tik. The makers took the daunting task of finishing 85 minutes of graphics and visual effects in five months and achieved it successfully.
There are a few who opine that Indian mythologies along with visual effects and CGI (computer generated imagery) will be a huge success. According to them, after the Baahubali franchise, filmmakers are looking at high-end fantasies and Indian mythology will provide them with epic storylines.
Along with focus on VFX, the industry is allocating bigger budgets for special effects in the film. VFX used to account for less than 10 percent of the total production budgets in India. However, after the success of a few recent films with heavy VFX, the trend seems to be tilting.
While the demand for VFX is growing in Indian films, VFX revenue from international projects continue to be major contributors. Hence, Indian VFX studios are expanding globally to tap into international projects and markets.
With improving standards of VFX in domestic productions, the Indian VFX industry is on its way to becoming a force to reckon with.In 2019, audience can experience VFX-heavy films like Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, which reportedly has 3,000 VFX shots and Salman Khan’s Bharat in which the actor will portray five different looks with the help of prosthetics and VFX.