Thursday, May 21, 2015

Making Make-Believe Images

The Kerala-born Jishnu P. Dev has worked as a Visual Effects Supervisor in a string of Bollywood films, including ‘Queen’ and 'Aap Tak Chappan 2
By Shevlin Sebastian
Photos: Vishnu P. Dev. Rajkumar Rao and Kangana Ranaut pose in front of a green screen in the first shot. In the second, the India Gate image has been inserted

Vikas Bahl, the director of the Hindi film, ‘Queen’, was in a tizzy. He needed to take shots of actors Kangana Ranaut and Rajkumar Rao at India Gate, New Delhi. But at that time there were daily protests at the war memorial over the Nirbhaya rape case. “So even though Vikas would have loved to take shots at the original location, he had to give up,” says Jishnu P. Dev, Visual Effects Supervisor.
So both the actors were made to pose in front of a green screen. “The advantage of standing in front of a green or blue screen is that it does not appear on the screen,” says Jishnu. “Later, I inserted shots of India Gate behind Kangana and Rajkumar on the computer. I also put moving cars in the scene. But those were taken in Mumbai.”
Jishnu gives another example from the same film. “There was a scene, which was eventually not used, of Kangana standing atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris,” he says. “But since shooting at that height was not possible, we again made Kangana stand in front of a green screen and inserted an image of the Eiffel Tower behind her.” Incidentally, the number of such altered images may range anywhere between 150 to 300 shots per film.
Jishnu has worked in 15 films now. They include ‘Aap Tak Chappan 2’, ‘Titoo MBA’, ‘The Attacks of 26/11’ and the Marathi film, ‘Poshter Boyz’. He has worked with directors like Ramgopal Varma, Vikas Bahl, the acclaimed Marathi director, Paresh Mokashi and Madhur Bhandarkar for his upcoming film, ‘Calendar Girls’.
And for Jishnu every director is different. “Each has their unique vision, ideas and ways of working,” says Jishnu. “The experienced directors know what they want and they tell me that in a precise way. Some directors take a lot of time doing research. Others work instinctively. And this is what makes my work so exciting.”
Visual effects are of paramount importance, especially when you are setting scenes in an earlier era. “The film, ‘Bombay Velvet’, is set in the Mumbai of the 1960s,” says Jishnu. “It is difficult to recreate all those scenes. So, a lot of visual effects have been used. This was also the case with ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’, which was set in the Kolkata of the 1940s.”
Meanwhile, when asked about his experiences in Bollywood, Jishnu says, “I am working in the entertainment industry, but there is no entertainment for me. It is hard work, almost 24 hours a day. Sometimes, I am unable to watch the film I had been a part of, even though I was invited for the premiere. That’s because I am already busy working on the next film. Right now, I am establishing my career in Bollywood, so I don’t want to take it easy at all.”
In fact, last year, Jishnu set up a company called Corridor Studios Pvt. Ltd., in partnership with his friend, Siddhesh Ware. The last film the company worked for is ‘Massan’, an Indo-French collaboration, which has been showcased at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival. “I am very excited about it,” says Jishnu.
Indeed, it has been an exciting and amazing journey so far. And it is one that Jishnu could never imagine could happen to him. He was born at Kudakkachira, near Pala, in Kottayam district. After his Plus Two, from Our Lady Of Loud Higher Secondary School at Uzhavoor, Jishnu joined the three-year BA animation course at the Media Village in Changanacherry. Thereafter, he worked for the US-based MCN (Malayalam Community Network) TV for one year at Kochi.
Later, he went to Mumbai to specialise in special effects. He studied for a year at the FX School. That was when he got his first break. He was selected to work for Ram Gopal Varma’s Telugu film, ‘Dongala Mutha’, which stars Ravi Teja. “My work was in pre as well as post-production,” says Jishnu. The movie, incidentally, did well at the box office.
After that, through word of mouth, Jishnu has been getting projects regularly. In fact, his first Bollywood film was also another Ram Gopal Varma movie called, ‘Not A Love Story.’ “I believe I am doing a good job,” he says. “It is a big thing for me that I am getting Bollywood movies.”
But his heart beats for Kerala, too. On a recent visit, to see his parents, after a one-and-a-half year gap, Jishnu says, “I would love to work in Mollywood. There are a lot of good visual effects taking place in Malayalam films. Many of my friends are working in the industry. My aim is to work to the best of my talent in both industries.”
(The New India Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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