Expresso Entertainment Feature on ‘Adipurush’: Given the criticism for poor VFX and character design, what’s next for the Prabhas-Om Raut film?

You are listening to the Expresso Entertainment update. Here is a feature of Adipurush: Amid Criticism for Poor VFX and Character Design, What’s Next for the Prabhas-Om Raut Movie? presented by The Indian Express.
“On October 2nd, when the teaser of Prabha’s lead actor Adipurush hit the internet, it achieved the unthinkable: an almost instant, lightning-fast speed trend on social media. But not for the right reasons. Within minutes, social media users were tearing apart the mammoth film’s teaser, which highlighted its gimmicky visual effects and shoddy character design.

In the days that followed, the backlash against the upcoming mythological epic only intensified. It was no longer about its questionable VFX, but also about allegedly offending religious sentiment, allegedly disrespectfully portraying Valmiki’s Ramayana on which it is based. Adipurush features Prabhas as Lord Ram, Saif Ali Khan as Ravan and Kriti Sanon as Sita.

In a bid to get the situation under control and turn the tide on the heavy mockery, the creators held a special 3D screening of their teaser in Mumbai within a few days, which the select media watching it – including the author – did better a far more immersive experience than in 2D. But audiences online, unable to access the 1-minute, 50-second teaser in 3D, remained critical of the film’s first video unit.

The film is still three months away from its scheduled January 12 release. Is there any way the creators can flip the VFX and change the visual experience of the film when it’s finally released in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada? Not quite, according to a top VFX pro.

The pundit said the creators deserve credit for even trying to bring an ambitious film like Adipurush to the big screen. The source told indianexpress.com: “It takes years to even have a vision like this. That they succeeded is a milestone that has been passed. It takes a lot of money, a lot of talent, big banners, professionals from different fields to put it together.”
However, mere intent doesn’t guarantee great performance, and according to the expert, any VFX-heavy film these days faces an agonizing scrutiny as there are head-to-head comparisons to global films. So Adipurush is no different.

“Everyone is familiar with Hollywood content these days. Everyone is talking about VFX today, almost like a comparison chart. “Oh, that human-like aqua scene where Prabhas is meditating underwater.” People used to remember, now they edit clips and compare them frame by frame at the same time.

Explaining the technical reasons why “honing” the VFX can now be a task, the source said the process would require a huge sum of money and a lot of time, the latter not staying with Adipurush if it still intends to stick with it its January date. “When you create creatures (characters) on paper, then create them in 3D, and then go into shot production, it’s a process you can’t go back to to recreate or refine your creatures.”
An insider working on the film told indianexpress.com that seven eighth studios are involved in assembling Adipurush’s VFX. “It’s a broad field of work, with each hire being itemized and handled by different agencies,” the insider added. So when a group is working on creature development, the motion capture is done somewhere else, the concept in one place, and the output in another place.

According to the insider, Adipurush falls within the “conventional bracket of a live-action film” and doesn’t use motion capture, a technology James Cameron used extensively on his 2009 blockbuster Avatar.
Explaining the difference between the two ways of making a film, the VFX pro shared, “When you’re trying to create photorealistic creatures that are done in 3D, the first thing we try to do is recreate the movements. How we move in reality is a live action film. Now when I want to map my movement to a 3D creature, I do it through motion capture.”

This is the area where Adipurush’s teaser struggled visually. Many of its characters – from Lord Hanuman to some of the animals featured in the video unit – are unconvincing. According to the source, the teaser is peppered with “fundamental problems” that even laypeople noticed.
“When you see Hanuman Ji flying, the hair and fur, the texture of his face, it all looks like a gimmick. There is a difference between content in TV, OTT and movies. Back then, when we saw unrealistic creatures in the Ramayana on TV, we accepted it because our vision was set that way. Anyway, television isn’t such a great medium that people invest so much time, money and resources into.

“But with feature films, you can’t compromise on these things. There are problems with the animation, the foreground and background don’t match and the perspectives are wrong. These are fundamental problems.”

Several film marketing experts that indianexpress.com spoke to in the industry said the best way for the Adipurush team to move forward now is to focus on a new campaign that draws more on some of its best visual frames . The trailer, all marketing sources said, is key.

“Now it depends on the trailer, they can still turn the tide in their favor by cracking it. Ideally they should have followed the Brahmastra model: where Ayan Mukerji introduced the audience to the world of film, video by video. Focus on the visual experience, show behind-the-scenes footage, and introduce the audience to the visual world.

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