SS Rajamouli's latest bilingual, 'Eega', will soon go to Hindi. The director talks about the changing trends and the role that SFX plays in films these days.
The industry is now looking at visual effects (VFX) to up the ante. We’ve had VFX around for a while, but with films like 'Ra.One', 'Robot' and now 'Eega', VFX is becoming protagonist in our films. However, with the sporadic interest in the industry laying the foundation, VFX is sprouting in spurts. The evolution of the visual effects industry has come a long way, but has yet far to go. With Makuta, the VFX company that handled the animation, what we’re trying to do is to establish the American equivalent of Pixar, to bring the whole gamut under one umbrella.
Even as we do that, our story-telling is undergoing a slight change, and in a way, is going back to basics.
With the film 'Eega', we’ve interlaced a lot of layers to a story. There’s the folktale side of it with a human being re-incarnated as a fly who then continues his previous life’s journey and then there’s the modern 3D animated fly that occupies most of the screen time. This is perhaps the first time that an animated character has taken centre stage in a film with real actors and the success of it, I believe, heralds in a new age.
A lot of people have asked me if a full-length animated feature is the next step from here. While ultimately that is something I would love to work on, there are a lot of dynamics to it. First, the content has to be good. Though we are a hero-driven industry, the audience has always responded to good content, even with new comers — be it direction or actors — in a movie. Second, a full-length animation production takes a long time.
The story of 'Eega' was narrated to me by my father in the early 90s. I was hooked to it immediately, but it wasn’t until around 2004 that we could get started on the project. That’s about eight years in the making for a film that isn’t completely animated. So you can imagine how much longer it could take for a full length animated feature film.
Personally for me, I made 'Eega' because I wanted to move away from the films I was making. Actually, I was looking at making a small-budget independent film after my previous big-budget films. But the story, when we began developing it, we realised, was much bigger than what we aspired and we had to go all out to make it, and 'Eega' became much larger than we initially planned. And honestly, I’m still a little confused about how the audience has been responding because I didn’t expect such an overwhelming response.
In a sense, making 'Eega' was like testing the waters to see how the audience would react to a film like this. And I guess, we have passed the first litmus test.