Yugandhar Tammareddy contrasts the glitz of animation and visual effects with the rustic and true-to-life images he captures through his lenses. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo traces his journey

When Yugandhar Tammareddy holds forth on photography, it's hard to miss his passion for all things creative. He doesn't stop at capturing candid moments through his lens. Photography, for him, is an art and he defends his fondness towards postproduction of photographs. “A good photograph can be enhanced to make it look like a work or art or a painting. I see nothing wrong with that,” smiles Yugandhar, the 30-something co-founder of Pixelloid, the visual effects and animation studio behind some of the biggest productions in recent times — Sri Rramarajyam, Brindavanam, Oosaravelli and Khaleja to name a few.

Away from visual effects, postproduction of films and other demands of showbiz, Yugandhar is avid photographer, documenting everything that's beautiful around him. Eager to share his knowledge with novice photographers, he can quickly slip into an engaging discussion on how to shoot stunning frames using backlight and the joy of shooting in low light with lenses that allow you to control the depth of focus. He believes the world is full of beautiful things waiting to be captured, from the rusticity of villages to the glitz of metropolises. “You just have to be at the right time at the right place,” he emphasises.

In online photography forums, Yugandhar is a known name, winning loads of appreciation for his work. Photography complements his full-time job in a visual effects studio. He founded Pixelloid when he was 26, along with three other partners, pooling in available resources. His first stint with backend work began in Padmalaya Studios before he moved to Mumbai and worked with Rhythm and Hues.

Realising the potential for a visual effects and animation studio in Hyderabad, he founded Pixelloid. In 2010, he was one among the seven entrepreneurs to be selected by the British Council to win the Young Creative Entrepreneurs Award. The judges' citation stated: “Yugandhar is a rare blend of creativity and business acumen that makes for a successful entrepreneur.”

Through the Council, Yugandhar visited studios in UK, grasping all that he could. “I don't know when I will be able to put to use all that I learnt there,” he says. Yugandhar didn't have it easy. Born in Varni in Nizamabad, where he studied till standard VIII until his father moved to work in ANGRAU (Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University), Yugandhar later took up B.A. Psychology only to discontinue it and move towards fine arts.

He credits his father for egging him on to pursue his creative abilities. “When everyone else wanted to join typing classes, I was good at computers. But my dad realised I was more inclined towards art than engineering. He encouraged me to do something different and not follow the herd of students opting for computer engineering,” says Yugandhar. He did his Bachelor of Fine Arts in SV College of Arts. “My father's cousin was married to veteran actor Krishna's sister. When I came to know that Padmalaya Studio had Silken Graphics system, which was then also used by Hollywood studios, I asked my father to put in a word for me. I was hired as an apprentice and they tested my work for the first few months, during which I wasn't paid,” he recalls.

Years on, Yugandhar now feels that it's time to start thinking of the next move. “My partners and I oversee different areas of work. I take care of visual effects and animation while one partner heads the education wing and another takes care of corporate films. In the longer run, I want to direct my own film. Indian cinema has to move in the direction of 3D animation and motion capture technique,” he says.

At the moment, though, he is enjoying the work that's pouring in from the Telugu film industry, which requires him and his team to work round the clock at times. His team is getting all the appreciation for Sri Ramarajyam. “People like to see graphics and visual effects and it's been a long time since we saw mythological films in Telugu. Bapu sir and his team gave us storyboards down to the last detail,” shares Yugandhar. Along with 100 of his team members, Yugandhar had his task cut out. The breathtaking palace, the pushpaka vimanam, the Bhoodevi sequence… were all created by his team. “For the palace, we asked the filmmakers to erect a 12-foot palace set just so that there is authenticity when people walk on the floor, lean against a wall or touch a piece of furniture. The rest was done on visual effects,” he says. This isn't the first time that a palace, a house or a magnificent set for songs is being done through visual effects. Yugandhar points out that this method helps filmmakers cut costs of erecting lavish sets by around 50 per cent.

He does a tightrope walk balancing creativity and business in an industry that's driven by hype (filmmakers don't flinch before citing an escalated cost for a monumental set erected just to create a buzz; a foreigner working on visual effects is still a trump card), but Yugandhar cannot dream of life outside cinema. The tastefully set up reception area of Pixelloid has dialogues from Telugu and Hollywood movies etched on glass. From Road to Perdition to Godfather, Spiderman to Terminator and Telugu hits, the glass is a reflection of Yugandhar's passion for cinema. As he sums up, “I would be frustrated if there was no outlet for my creative talent.”