The film industry down south has forever been a huge contributor towards putting Indian cinema on the world map. And whenever the history of Indian cinema will be written, it would be incomplete without the mention of director par excellence Shankar, who is also known as the pioneer of vigilante movies in Tamil cinema.
Shankar made his directorial debut with the superhit Gentleman back in 1993 and ever since has helmed over 12 projects, which include blockbusters like Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans, Mudhalvan, Anniyan, Sivaji, Enthiran, Nanban and most recently I.
The director has always pushed the envelope when it comes to using technology in his movies. He also has a fascination with making films having an exquisite production value as against other directors, and is never afraid of venturing into projects which require a lot of time and resources invested in the pre-production stage itself; this is very evident in the way his recent films like the 2010 release Enthiran and I which released in early 2015 shaped up.
Coming to the biggest feature Shankar is set to direct till date, the sequel to the 2010 blockbuster Enthiran called 2.0. The feature has been making headlines ever since it was officially announced in early 2015 and the script was finalised in September this year. And the most recent announcement was the addition of Bollywood’s Akshay ‘Khiladi’ Kumar, who will also play the antagonist, to the existing cast of Rajnikanth and Amy Jackson.
Apart from the cast, the film will also see most of the technical crew coming together from the original 2010 film. Music composer A. R. Rahman and editor Anthony were retained to work on the film from the original, while Jeyamohan was added to the team to help write dialogues. Shankar also began briefing the film’s art director T. Muthuraj and VFX supervisor Srinivas Mohan about their involvement in the film right from the early stages. The original film’s dialogue writer, Madhan Karky, helped Jeyamohan on some of the more technical dialogues in the script. Jeyamohan finished work on the script of the film in September 2015 and revealed that the story would be a direct continuation from the 2010 film.
Resul Pookutty would be handling the sound designing, Mary E. Vogt, who has worked on the costumes of Enthiran and I earlier, would be designing some radically different costumes. Stunt choreographer Kenny Bates and visual effects specialists John Hughes and Walt Jones have also signed to work on the film.
But, the biggest hero of 2.0 is going to be the amazing visual and practical effects that are being planned for the movie currently. When three time National Award winning VFX supervisor Srinivas Mohan is at the helm of a project, you can be rest assured that the work which will be seen on the big screen is going to be bigger and better than his earlier work. And if we simply look at the two films that released in 2015 with him at the helm of the visual effects, Shankar’s I and SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali – The Beginning, its evident what the master visionary is capable of delivering on celluloid.
While in Shankar’s I, it was the first time that the wizardry craftsmen from New Zealand’s WETA Workshop worked on an Indian feature film (and they are once again working on 2.0 as well), it also witnessed the guys behind shows like ‘Transformers’ and ‘X-Men’ from Rising Sun Pictures (Australia) working on an Indian feature. At the same time SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali – The Beginning was the true representation on collaboration with nearly 16 VFX studios working in tandem to deliver the magnum opus.
Now, Shankar’s 2.0 aka Enthiran 2 will see the technically advanced artists from California based Legacy Effects, who worked on recent Hollywood hits like ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Terminator Genisys’, working on the animatronics for the character of Chitti.
Not much is known about the story or how the character of Chitti will be brought back to life after becoming a part of a sci-fi museum at the end of the first part in 2010. Also how will Akshay Kumar’s role be dealt with will be a thing to watch out for. Although the actor himself hasn’t worked in a Tamil movie, he has in the recent past starred in the official remake of AR Murugadoss’ Thuppakki which released as Holiday in 2014.
The budget for the film is pegged at nearly Rs 300 crore, with the pre-production work for the film going on since June 2015 with Lyca Productions deciding to finance the project. The first shoot schedule commenced from 16 December, 2015 but the release of the film will only happen in early 2017.
In an earlier interaction with TheGraphicSlate.com during the making of SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali – The Beginning VFX supervisor Srinivas Mohan said: “I would say we have managed to get 80 per cent of the quality work a Hollywood VFX studio would have done on this project, but at nearly 20 per cent of the cost that it would have charged.” He further said that with more and more directors and producers now acknowledging the importance of visual effects in films; and the level of visual grandeur that can be achieved with proper use of VFX, Indian cinema is only 5 years away from making a film that would be on par with a Hollywood blockbuster.
Those words coming from a man who has worked on visual effects heavy films like: Sivaji – The Boss, Endhiran – The Robot, Shankar’s I and the most recently released Baahubali – The Beginning does mean that Indian cinema is poised to touch its highest pinnacle of success very soon and Shankar’s 2.0 could very well be the catalyst for the new renaissance of Indian cinema.