Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Six-step guide to making India’s most expensive film
Tamil filmmaker Shankar’s last project “Sivaji – The Boss” was reported to have a production budget of a billion rupees and his latest “Robot” is being pegged at 1.5 billion rupees, which would make it India’s most expensive film ever.
Starring Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, “Robot” is set for worldwide release on October 1. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making India’s most expensive film – from director Shankar himself.
BRING IN AN UNKNOWN ENTITY
“I had made five films. I thought I should go in for a different film. But how different can you get? Perhaps I could have done something spiritual or about ghosts, something mythological perhaps. Maybe a film on non-living objects would work and what inanimate object could be better than a robot? If the main character is an inanimate object, everything is different, everything is interesting.”
GET THE BIGGEST STAR
“I wanted to do this film in 2000 with Kamal Hassan and Preity Zinta. But our dates didn’t match. Even then, the film had a huge budget. Every time I would take out the script, dust it, make some changes and the dates would remain a problem. When I finished “Sivaji – The Boss”, I told myself I absolutely had to make this film. It was now or never. Once again, it didn’t work out with Kamal sir for some reasons and since I had done “Sivaji” with Rajnikanth, I asked him. He agreed immediately. He told me – ‘if you have confidence in you, I am ready.’”
GET A GOOD PRODUCER
“Making this film was like climbing Mount Everest. But I told myself that if I thought like that I would achieve nothing. I told my team that we would take it one day at a time. This was always going to be a big-budget film — the animatronics had never been used in an Indian film, we had a big star in the film and we didn’t want to compromise on anything. We had all the top technicians working on (it). In the beginning, another company was supposed to produce the film but they had financial problems mid-way through. Sun heard about our project and they had confidence in Rajni sir and my team, so they agreed.”
SHOOT A KILLER CLIMAX
“We spent the most on the eight-minute climax sequence. It required very expensive sets and lots of people, lots of visual effects, lot of costumes and a lot of time. I don’t know how much we spent but it was a significant amount. Of course I cannot tell you how it ends but it will be spectacular.”
MARKET FILM IN UNEXPLORED TERRITORY
“Most Tamil producers, naturally, concentrate on the South market but I felt that I had made such an expensive film and it had to recover money. For that more people had to see my film. It’s not that “Sivaji” didn’t make money in the South. It did but we wanted to explore these audiences too. After all Rajni sir and Aishwarya are very big stars and this is an universal script. If this recovers money, there will be more attempts to make more such films.”
DON’T GET STRESSED
“When you do your job properly, why stress? It’s like writing an exam. You don’t scramble at the last minute to study — you work from the first day of college. I prepare thoroughly. It is only when I am convinced that I have done my homework and I am well-prepared, I go ahead. When you have put in so much effort, why should it fail?”