From Ra.One to 2.0: How VFX dominated the Indian contemporary cinema


Indian Contemporary Cinema had become digitally and scientifically advanced and the future prospects of visual effects in Indian Cinema in near future.

After the advent of visual and sound effects in movies, the scenario has taken a wide turn in Indian Cinema. Love Story 2050 was considered as a milestone in Indian cinema for its stunning visual effects. Later, Ra-One (2011), Robot (2010) and Krissh 3 (2013) adopted Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) and 3D montage techniques, incorporated from various Hollywood movies and took Indian Cinema to a new and different level. The movie game conversion came into existence after the release of Don-2 and Ra-One and Baahubali franchises.

The yet-to-be-released Rajinikanth-Akshay Kumar’s film 2.0 is one of the first India movies to be shot in 3D. The movie is slated to hit theatres on November 29 this year.

The Lyca Productions have shared a making video that documents the judicious use of VFX. Check it out here:

Visual effects (commonly shortened to Visual FX or VFX) is the term used to describe any imagery created, altered, or enhanced for a film or other moving media that cannot be accomplished during live-action shooting. From a whole fantasy kingdom to a small window replacement, digital environments can play a very important role in the scene.

How did it begin in Bollywood?

In the year 1937, India got its first special effects movie by Babubhai Mestry-India’s Father of Trick photography and special effects. Director Babubhai Mestry during the shooting of ‘Khwaab Ki Duniya’ (1937) introduced some very ingenious home-grown techniques where he used dim light and lamp; black curtain as the background on which objects were given the illusion of movement with the help of black thread. The phenomenal success of his experiment made him a well-established name in the cinema world.

In his extensive career, he produced special effects for films such as Ashiana, Aurat, Sati Anapuran, Sampoorna Ramayana, Prem Pujari, Mahabharat, Jugnu among others.

How the Indian contemporary cinema digitized?

The Visual effects in Bollywood have taken a very huge transition in terms of quality and development. Up until five years ago, producers were unwilling to embrace technology, preferring instead to spend millions on expensive outdoor shoots and sets.

Priyanka Chopra and Harman Baweja starrer Love Story 2050 is considered to be the benchmark in the history of VFX in Bollywood.

Rajnikanth and Aishwarya starrer Robot had the flashiest Bollywood special effects to date, including a Matrix-like sequence, and such superstar backing of the trend means others are sure to follow.

The Bollywood industry nowadays has become hugely dependent on Visual and special effects.

The action scenes in Dhoom 3, Ra-One were shot with the extensive help of visual effects. From Aamir running down the bank wall to Abhishek Bachchan twirling an auto rickshaw in mid-air, VFX was employed to shoot all the thrilling scenes.


The Rajnikanth and Deepika Padukone starrer Kochadaiiyaan had adopted the Motion Capture (MoCap) technology that was used by James Cameron in Avatar. Though the movie failed at the box-office, everything had to start somewhere.

2017 hit Baahubali 2: The conclusion was the first domestic feature film to successfully use ample special effects. It grossed US$270 million, becoming one of the highest grossing Indian films in history.

The Number Game:

The demand for animation, VFX, and gaming in Asia has expanded with the increase in targeted broadcasting hours by cable and satellite TV, availability of low-cost internet access, penetration of mobile devices along with the growing popularity of streaming video. In addition, the demand for Animation and VFX content to power immersive experiences such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is growing exponentially.

The total value of Asian animation industry was US$ 52 billion in 2017. Most of the segments in the Asian animation industry are growing at the rate of 2-3 % YoY. In Asia, the spend on special effects as a percent of production cost is about 5-10%. In Asia, there is a sharp increase in streaming video consumption. The size of the streaming market for animation content was US$ 2.4 Billion in 2017 and is growing at an annual rate of 8%. The production cost per animation movie in Asia ranges anywhere between US$ 3 Million to US$ 60 Million. The size of the Asian video gaming industry was US$ 43 billion in 2017.

(Data were taken from the “Asian Animation, VFX & Games Industry: Strategies, Trends & Opportunities, 2018” report)

However, industry experts expect animation and VFX in India to reach US$1.9 billion by 2021.