Lifting the Veil of Magic –Raees VFX and the force behind it


In the heart of the Maximum city and the showbiz district of India, Red Chillies.Vfx team has carved a beautiful niche for themselves in the Bollywood Industry. Their work speaks for itself and each time they surpass the level of excellence in the VFX Industry.

Having worked on groundbreaking visual effects for movies like Ra.One and Krrish 3 the company continues to push the envelope with each project and cement its reputation for cutting edge visual effects with its repertoire of work.

In a tête-à-tête with VFX Supervisor on Raees, Ronak Sanghadia tells Animation Digital Digest’s Leo Oommen about the tremendous work behind making the Bollywood’s 200 crore club hit movie Raees and also about receiving the Best VFX award at Filmfare.

Please tell us about yourself and your professional path so far.

Ronak Sanghadia, VFX Supervisor on Raees
Ronak Sanghadia, VFX Supervisor on Raees

I am Ronak Sanghadia and I have been part of the Redchillies.Vfx family since April, 2006. I have contributed in many projects undertaken by the studio in the past years. I started out my career with Redchillies.Vfx as a project lead and gradually moved up the ranks to helm the CG division for the studio.

What drew you into the movie industry? If you go back to the time when you just started VFX production what were your expectations from the Bollywood industry?

It started way back in 2002, VFX was mostly used in commercials and very limited amount of it was used in films. Gradually, the industry understood the importance of it and how well it could be utilized. The VFX industry grew and we witnessed movies like Ra.One, Krrish 3 which took VFX to all-new level.  The scope of the industry has widened, especially in Bollywood, there are lots of stunts and aesthetic extensions which were normally seen in Hollywood. Now, we see such kind of VFX even in Bollywood. I am happy to see the industry embracing the challenge and growing.

Could you tell us about your involvement in the making of the film Raees?

Raees had a lot of different kind of VFX requirement. The VFX was not channelized to one particular direction but we had to play different role in each sequence throughout the film. The biggest challenge was that the film is set in the late 1970s and the 80s and shows how Raees sells alcohol unlawfully in Gujarat. We had to ensure the film portrays that era well.

Today, we see multi-storey building with glass framing or skyscrapers but back then it was not that way so we had to make sure they are knocked out via VFX. We replaced boards, hoardings or removed certain mobile network towers, antennas, water tanks which weren’t of that era. There are wide shots in the film which establishes the city so in those shots we had to minutely observe each and everything and make the necessary changes.

Raees - Rooftop Chase Before and After VFX
Raees – Rooftop Chase Before and After VFX
Raees - Old Bridge Made Before and After VFX
Raees – Old Bridge Made Before and After VFX

Which was the most challenging VFX sequence?

The most challenging sequence as per us was the Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan scene where Jairaj goes to meets Raees. They have a conversation on the terrace, where they are flying kites. Back in Gujarat, Makar Sankranti Day is a huge festival and the entire sky is filled with kites, so shooting it was a difficult task. We had to recreate that same magic of kites flying in the sky using VFX as it was not possible to shoot with Shah Rukh Khan in Gujarat during the festival due to uncontrolled environment. The major challenges in an uncontrolled environment would be crowd management and followed by the loudspeakers played during festivals. So, we shot the terrace structures with actors and the rest was done by the VFX.

Raees Uttarayan Before and After VFX
Raees – Uttarayan Before and After VFX
Raees - Terrace Extension Before and After VFX
Raees – Terrace Extension Before and After VFX

With Raees hitting the bulleyes at Box office with 200 crores, was there a feeling that this project is going to be gigantic phenomenon?

While shooting Raees we were definitely seeing bits of Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui chemistry in dialogue delivery. We observed and discussed among ourselves that this is something new and unique and this would be loved by the audience. We felt that Raees would be a unique movie as we often do not see Shah Rukh Khan playing the role of Gangster.

RedChillies.Vfx team winning the Best VFX Award for Fan was one of the main highlight of Filmfare. Could you tell us about the project and your feelings about achieving a new milestone in VFX?

VFX Red Chillies

The whole RedChillies.Vfx team is ecstatic for receiving this honor at Filmfare. Apart from making Shah Rukh Khan look younger, leaner and smaller built besides changing his facial features like the size of his nose, the VFX team also did some pretty extensive visual effects on some of the chase and action sequences in the film. We had put in tremendous hardwork and effort in the making of Fan for almost a year or two. ‘Fan’ as a project was the most challenging as we had to create doppelganger of Shah Rukh Khan and also created CG environments with it.  The result is that today the VFX of it is regarded as one of the best VFX of all times in Bollywood.

Being the VFX Supervisor for movies, what does this position involve in the day-to-day schedule of pre-production, shooting and post production?

As a VFX Supervisor, the pre-production schedule is about discovering the scope of VFX and how well it could be play a role in the production process. We discuss with the production team about the possibilities as to how to manage the good ratio between production and VFX part. We are consulted and thereby we provide the inputs for the same. During the production process, the Supervisor has to be present on the set each day. In the post-production, our whole team of 300 artist work upon it and bring the best output.

According to you what are the challenges for today’s professionals who are entering the VFX industry in India?

There are numerous institutes for people who are new to the VFX industry and are keen to learn. They teach basic softwares and skills which is good but things have been diversified and knowledge is not generic anymore. You have to train your skills as per the requirement and not in general. It is good to have an orientation and understanding of how each department works but you need to channelize your talent in one particular direction. When we started our careers, it was a very generic job but today it is very specialized because of the quick changes in technology. You need to adapt these changes and keep up with it.

Tell us something about your upcoming projects.

We have Phillauri as one of our upcoming projects. The trailer was unveiled on Monday morning to a positive response as Bollywood buffs found the idea of actress Anushka Sharma playing a ghost very unique and interesting. Anushka’s histrionics as the friendly and entertaining ghost look endearing, and the VFX adds to the look. The movie would be released on March 24, 2017.