Subtlety is the key, says visual effects ace Madhu Sudhanan talking about the Vishwaroopam experience.
“Subtle and real” — that’s how Madhu Sudhanan, the visual effects expert, describes the work in Kamal Haasan’s magnum opus Vishwaroopam, which is gearing up for release in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. “VFX has been used subtly to tell the story as in films such as Titanic. It is very different from the visible effects you see in fantasies such as Transformer, Spiderman and Matrix,” he says.
The film’s trailer, launched at the IIFA in Singapore, has already created a buzz. Commenting on this, he says, “We employed the ‘time slice’ technology for making the trailer, something similar to what you have seen in films such as Matrix,” he says.
The best of talent from India and specialists from Hollywood were roped in for the project. Some portions were done exclusively in studios in Los Angeles. “A lot of effort has gone into every single sequence. But, I can share those details only after the movie releases,” he says.
Fourth project with Kamal
Madhu is known for his work in international projects such as Lord of the Rings, Spiderman 3, Gulliver’s Travels, Andrew Nichols’ sci-fi thriller In Time, and Barry Osborne’s The Warrior’s Way. Vishwaroopam is his fourth project with Kamal Haasan after Aalavandhaan, Tenali and Unnaipol Oruvan. Madhu’s work in Aalavandhaan fetched him a National Award too.
In Vishwaroopam, the challenge was to keep everything real. “Visual effects have to be used like medicine, in the right proportion to get the desired result. I have used them to tell the story through the director’s eyes. Some recent films have used VFX to emphasise elements of sci-fi or fantasy. But, in Vishwaroopam, the judicious use of VFX shows through the film.”
The journey called Vishwaroopam has been eventful for Madhu Sudhanan. It all started with a phone call from Kamal. “He gave me a copy of the script. From then on every moment has been amazing. We discussed threadbare the VFX elements — a combination of practical and digital effects. We created animatics and 3D animation work to get a feel of how it would look as part of the film. We took nearly two months to design the concept, animation, the camera angles… everything to the last detail was worked out.”
About his association with Kamal, he says, “It’s like working with family. His passion for the art is infectious. He motivates us to excel. There is so much to learn. He is an amazing craftsman and a wonderful person. Kamalji is particular about details.”
Though he’s in a comfort zone with the much-feted actor, Madhu says he is “pretty much open to working with anyone as long as the story is good and there is scope for visual effects in it.”
VFX in Billa II
“It’s an action thriller from start to finish,” says Madhu Sudhanan about Billa II. VFX has been used in action sequences, in ‘set extensions’ to beautify the background and in sequences involving 3D. “It’s going to be a big treat for Ajith fans. Working on action sequences has been challenging as Chakri Toleti, the director, has set very high standards. R. D. Rajasekhar has done an unimaginable job with cinematography. Billa II has been a realistic experience.”