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IT'S THE "PAISA VASOOL SHOT" of the year's biggest hit, Rang De Basanti. Aamir Khan and his bud-dies sprint towards a runway through paddy fields and leap up in the air as a MiG takes off above their heads. Well, the paddy fields—and the people—are for real, but little else. The runway and the MiG were added at Tata Elxsi's Visual Computing Labs (VCL) in Mumbai.
"We deleted the village and put in an air base instead. The aircraft was created digitally too,'' says K. Chan-drashekar, general manager and head, VCL. Bollywood is waking up to the world of DI (digital imaging) and VFX (visual effects), and high-end CG (computer graphics) labs like VCL and Pixion (or the latest entrant nVidia) aren't complaining.
Rang De had a good half-hour of VFX, which took a 20- member crew four months to create. And, even if the au-dience never knew, because the effects were integrated so seamlessly into the "real" visuals, most of the big hits of the past couple of years have used CG. In Bunty Aur Babli, the Big B was nowhere near the train when he caught up with Abhishek and Rani; he shot at the studio, the train was added on at the lab. Veer Zara, Salaam Namaste, Swades, Hum Tum, all opted for visual enhancement, and not the cleaning-up variety earlier done during post-produc-tion.
The submarine used in Shyam Benegal's Netaji—the U-180 that carries Bose from Germany to Japan—was also lab-created.
"VFX is no longer an afterthought. Directors now plan for visual effects and spend Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2-3 crore per film to tell the story as creatively as possible," explains Bhaskar Dutt, head, marketing, VCL. For instance, VCL turned day into night in Rang De. "The director was intent on getting a night look for the jeep rides and though it was actually shot in daytime, we used our software tools to put in the lights.''
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