Call it the ‘Avatar’ effect if you may, for a spate of Indian films are to be shot in 3D format.

3-D is a distracting, annoying, anti-realistic, juvenile abomination to use as an excuse for higher prices.

- Roger Ebert, film critic

Film critic Roger Ebert hasn't taken kindly to the spate of 3D movies, TV shows and mobile games that have flooded the global market post Avatar. But 3D remains the flavour of the year after James Cameron's spectacle netted in $1.85 billion.

Every other film-maker in Hollywood wants to jump on to the 3D bandwagon. Some slug it out to make an out-and-out 3D production like Avatar while other want to convert their existing under-production movies, shot in 2D, into 3D. For decades, the Hindi film industry has aped Hollywood and this time will be no exception. Expect to see a handful of 3D movies in the next one year.

The 3D format is being flirted with on a few merits — there's scope for innovation and the curiosity is bound to boost box office collections as 3D is a relatively untouched area in India and 3D format is tamper proof and rules out piracy (it involves projecting two images on the same screen, so that both eyes get different images and there is perception of depth, making it difficult for pirates to duplicate).

In Bollywood, predictably, some of the 3D films under production belong to the horror genre. Film-maker Vikram Bhatt wants to complete his horror trilogy (remember Raaz 1920 and Shaapit?) with a 3D horror film. Said to be India's first stereoscopic 3D film, he will be shooting the film in 3D rather than converting a regular 2D to 3D (which inevitably affects the quality). His film is not the faint-hearted, he warns. The film stars Mahakshay Chakraborty (Mimoh, Mithun Chakraborty's son) and newcomer Tia Bajpai.

Talk of horror movies and can Ram Gopal Varma be left behind? Once he completes Rakta Charitra, the director will get busy with his 3D horror film Warning. “It's too early to give out details. But I feel there is a lot of scope for 3D in global entertainment after Avatar,” he says.

Talk is that Abbas-Mustan duo plan to direct a 3D thriller with two heroes and Anurag Kashyap is planning a 3D film for a UTV production. Meanwhile, Shekhar Kapur is reviving his project, Paani, and wants to make it in 3D. On Twitter, the director has posted photos of location hunt for the film.

Apart from the big guns, there's Rohit Manjrekar, who has completed shooting his first feature film in 3D. Rohit and his unit have completed the first phase of shooting of this Indo-Canadian venture in Toronto. The germ of idea, says Rohit, happened a year before Avatar. “The home entertainment industry was set for a huge change with big brands bringing out LED television sets with 3D compatibility. That prompted us to think of a 3D film,” he says.

Rohit's is a fun film and he doesn't want to use 3D to tell a horror story: “When people spend two hours in a cinema hall, they expect to be entertained and not feel like they are in a house or horror they want to escape from.” He compares the shift from 2D to 3D to the change from black and white to colour and feels 3D is the format of the future. “There are prototypes under test to enable 3D viewing without glasses,” he adds.

The only deterrent is the limited number of theatres with 3D projection facility in the country. For example, Hyderabad has only four screens equipped to screen 3D movies. In the next two years, Scrabble Entertainment and UFO Moviez plan to make 500 to 600 theatre screens in India 3D compatible. Scrabble-UFO also screened IPL matches in 3D format.

The biggest advantage of 3D lies in its ability to curb piracy, says Rohit. “The dying home video market can also witness a revival with 3D films which will be released only on blue ray discs and they cannot be duplicated.”

Hollywood warmed up to 3D to fight piracy. Parts of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince were converted to 3D to ward off piracy. Taking a cue, director Shankar is planning to make parts of his Tamil film Robot, with Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai, in 3D. Imagine seeing Rajnikant's gravity-defying stunts on 3D. Paisa Vasool?

Keywords: Avatar3D films