Inspired by Hollywood, Bollywood flirts with technology

Thu Jul 7, 2011 2:54am EDT
 
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By Manasi Phadke and Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - Don't look for an Indian "Avatar" anytime soon, but Bollywood, inspired by the success of blockbusters such as "Transformers," is starting to take special effects seriously.

Up until five years ago, producers were unwilling to embrace technology, preferring instead to spend millions on expensive outdoor shoots and sets.

That changed when India became a viable back-end destination for Hollywood films like "Tron" and "Avatar" amid a growing wave of outsourcing post-production special effects due to cost. The number of studios handling VFX -- visual effects that include mixes of live-action footage and computer-generated images -- mushroomed.

"Earlier, Bollywood looked at technology like VFX as a cost-saving mechanism, but now it is also about the experience of watching a film with that kind of technology," said Kamal Jain, chief financial officer at Eros International.

Eros will release "Ra One," an ambitious superhero film with star Shah Rukh Khan, later this year. The company is also making "Rana," a tri-lingual epic with another superstar, Rajnikanth.

Rajnikanth's last film, "Robot," had the flashiest Bollywood special effects to date, including a Matrix-like sequence, and such superstar backing of the trend means others are sure to follow.

"Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara" or You Won't Get This Life Again, which releases next week, has used VFX to recreate a sky-diving scene and a race between a car and a horse.

Another film, "Urumi" or Curling Blade, which depicts the arrival of explorer Vasco Da Gama in Kerala, used special effects to re-create Portugal in the 14th century.   Continued...

 
<p>A light cycle prop is seen at the world premiere of "TRON: Legacy" in Hollywood, California, December 11, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>