Peter Draper is the CEO of Makuta VFX, a company in Hyderabad that has worked on blockbuster hits like Eega and Bahubali.
Makuta has just completed the visual effects for Nagarahavu, that brings Vishnuvardhan, the Kannada superstar, back to life on the silver screen.
Its teaser has already crossed one million views, highest a Kannada film has achieved. The film will be released in Tamil and Telugu as well.
Nagarahavu features Ramya and Diganth in lead roles. Ramya, now a Congress leader who insists she is not getting back to films, is eager to promote the film. She will play a 120-foot snake with Vishuvardhan, who appears as a 140-foot snake.
Makers of the lavishly mounted film, directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, have reportedly spent `11 crore of the `40-crore budget just to create the character of Vishnuvardhan.
In an interview with City Express, Draper talks about the excitement surrounding Nagarahavu.
What is Makuta VFX all about?
Makuta has been running for six years, and was founded by artists and producers after S S Rajamouli’s Magadheera. Since then, we have worked on some of the largest and most-acclaimed feature films such as Eega and Baahubali, and have recently completed Nagarahavu.
How did Nagarahavu come to you?
It came to us after we had finished work on Eega. By then, much of the film had been shot and so the editing was pretty much locked. The primary work was to stylise the snake transformation the heroine goes through to exact revenge on those who have wronged her. We didn’t want a simple transition, but a complex and stylised one showing in detail her emotions and turmoil, and emphasising the connection.
How did you bring Vishnuvardhan back to life?
There were hundreds of artists collectively working on the sequence. We used a lot of live references, from the dupe artistes to footage from his last few features, which everyone remembers vividly. Many methods were used, depending on the shot’s requirements; we analysed each shot to determine the best way to apply his performance.
What was the cost involved?
We spent many months to ensure each shot was correct as we knew it would be critically analysed, and it had to be perfect. As for the cost... well, that’s between us and the production!
How was it creating snakes?
It was a big challenge, not only to get the snakes looking right in every shot, but also to get the animation correct. Snakes are notoriously difficult to animate because of the way they move across a surface, so we struggled for sometime before working out an intuitive way. The primary thing was to ensure the snake had a large screen presence and looked effective as a principal character.
People are comparing Nagarahavu and Bahubali. Your take?
We used the same artists and technology for both features, but obviously the content is different. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.
How do you define creativity through visual effects?
Practice! Like any artform, VFX takes time to get right and it’s not a simple case of pushing buttons and something popping out of the other end. It takes time to learn and hone one’s skills. It can take years. Therefore VFX artists should be treated as such, as artists who deserve respect for the skills they bring to the silver screen.
Is visual effects the next big shift on the silver screen?
I wouldn’t say it’s the next. It has been around for decades. It is all about how a production uses its capabilities. VFX should be used to complement the filmmaking process, capturing what is not possible to capture in-camera. Like a huge snake... very difficult to film!
Which project do you think has been your best?
We always think it is our latest. This is always a benchmark that we strive to surpass .