India Saga ‘Baahubali’ Targets the World With Ramoji Film City
MAY 8, 2015 | 10:00AM PT
At the edge of the tiny village of Anajpur on the outskirts of Hyderabad in southern India are a pair of imposing gates with high walls on either side stretching as far as the eye can see. Inside is a vast property encompassing forts, palaces, prisons, mosques, temples, airports, gardens and anything else a filmmaker might dream of using as a backdrop for a big-budget extravaganza.
Welcome to Ramoji Film City, which, at 2,000 acres, is one of the largest studio facilities in the world. It’s not difficult to discover what’s currently filming: Dominating the Ramoji skyline these days is an immense bronze statue that bears the likeness of actor Rana Daggubati, who plays the antagonist in “Baahubali,” a historical action-adventure set in medieval India. The project is slated for a two-part release, with the first film due on 4,000 screens around the world, including 200 in the U.S., in late July. Producer Arka Mediaworks has enlisted former Directors’ Fortnight topper Francois Da Silva to rep the movies at the Cannes market.
Hugely popular star Prabhas also toplines the film, budgeted at $40 million — easily the most expensive production from India, outstripping 2010’s “Enthiran,” which reportedly cost $34 million.
These figures might seem small by Hollywood studio standards, but in India, a dollar stretches a long way, and what winds up on the screen, if done right, can rival some the best production values in the business.
Visual effects supervisor V. Srinivas Mohan is no stranger to big-budget spectaculars, having been in charge of “Enthiran” as well other high-profile pics. He says that vfx on Indian movies can achieve 80% of an “Avatar”-like shot for one-quarter the cost. What Mohan and his team are striving for is to deliver the remaining 20% to reach global standards.
“Audiences are used to watching photo-realistic effects in Hollywood films,” Mohan says, “and the challenge was to re-create that on an Indian budget.”
Ramoji itself has chipped in to try to make that happen, providing credits for infrastructure and equipment for “Baahubali,” as well as non-equity financing for roughly half the budget of the film, produced by Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni for Arka Mediaworks, largely a TV shingle, but also co-producer of 2011’s “Once Upon a Warrior” with Disney India. Arka put up 10% for the film, with the rest coming from Indian territory pre-sales, thanks to the track record of hit-making director S.S. Rajamouli.
Mohan’s task has been to realize Rajamouli’s vision — one that has included a more than three-mile-high waterfall and epic battles with armies of hundreds of thousands, along with horses, elephants, chariots and giant catapults. “When the director says ‘I need it huge,’ ” Mohan says, “there is no end of that huge.”
Mohan, along with Rajamouli and production designer Sabu Cyril, began pre-production in 2012. Principal photography began in 2013 and continued until the end of 2014 at Ramoji and locations across India and Bulgaria.
Almost 90% of the film requires vfx work, with the live-action shooting augmented and expanded in post. Some 600 artists are executing the f/x at 18 facilities around the world, led by Makuta and Firefly in Hyderabad, Prasad EFX in Hyderabad and Chennai, Tau Films in the U.S. and Malaysia, and Dancing Digital Animation and Macrograph in South Korea.
Rajamouli’s previous blockbusters had strong elements of fantasy and pageantry, but nowhere near the scale of “Baahubali.” But the director calls the battles, bombast and big budget a “superficial layer.” “Beneath it all are human emotions that drive the film,” he says.
“Baahubali” will be released in the Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam languages. The second part is due in spring 2016. Arko plans to distribute the films in Asian markets like Japan, China and South Korea, and also parts of Europe where Indian movies don’t traditionally play. The ancillary strategy includes a spinoff TV series, graphic novels and a clothing line. Arka is also in discussions with tech giant AMD to create a “Baahubali”-themed Oculus Rift experience.
Despite its global ambitions, “Baahubali” remains very much an Indian product. Star Daggubati says the film will give international audiences a taste of Indian folkloric culture in same way “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” exported China’s mythology. “I haven’t seen a film of this scale that is so true to our culture,” he notes. “The weapons are very Indian, and the way we fight is very Indian. It’s portraying our culture to the West.”
The makers of upcoming Tamil-Telugu bilingual film, Baahubali - The Beginning are reportedly spending over Rs 1 crore for the film's music launch scheduled for May 31, in Hyderabad. A bevy of popular southern film stars are expected to attend the function.
"The music launch for both Tamil and Telugu versions of the movie is being planned on an unprecedented scale. It will be launched in Hyderabad on May 31. An outdoor venue is being finalised and the makers are expected to spend over Rs 1 crore for the event," a source told IANS.
"While the guest list is being finalised, several popular stars from Telugu and Tamil industry are likely to attend the music launch. The entire team of Baahubali will be present as well," the source added. (Also Read: Karan Johar Tweets Baahubali Poster, Says 'Proud to Present the Film')
The much anticipated trailer of the movie will also be unveiled during the music launch.
"Right from the beginning, the plan was to release the trailer and the music at the same time to create maximum buzz. The team has already started making the arrangements," the source said.
Directed by SS Rajamouli, the film is said to be the story of two brothers, played by Prabhas Varma and Rana Daggubati, for a kingdom.
The movie, which has reportedly been made on a budget of over Rs 100 crore, also features Anushka Shetty, Ramya Krishnan, Sudeep, Sathyaraj and Nasser in important roles.
Baahubali - The Beginning is the first part of the movie. The second installment is slated for release next year.
Filmmaker Karan Johar has already bought the theatrical rights of the Hindi version of both the films.
Baahubali has been creating quite a buzz ever since Rajamouli started introducing his key characters through posters.
Every poster that was released so far has trended on top Indian trends on Twitter shows the level of interest that film buffs have in the film. Rajamouli and his team is working round the clock to release Baahubali Volume 1 by the 10th of July.
Baahubali is going to be released in two volumes and as per the buzz the estimated run time of this film is around four hours forty minutes. This will be separated into two parts and if the buzz is to be believed Bahubali – The Beginning running time will be just over two hours. Baahubali 2 is going to be a lengthy one compared to the first part.
Rajamouli is yet to shoot few key scenes in the second part. Shooting will resume after the first part is released. Rajamouli is making sure that there is enough action and entertainment in both the volumes. There will be huge war episodes in both the parts which are believed to be the biggest asset of the movie.
'Baahubali': SS Rajamouli Planning Shorter Version for International Audience
SS Rajamouli's magnum opus movie "Baahubali" is creating waves across international circuits. The flick, which was planned as a single instalment initially, was later announced in two parts.
Now, it has been learnt that the makers of the movie are looking to make the international version of the film shorter.
"Arka CEO Shobu Yarlagadda said the international version of the film would shorten the two-parter's 290-minute running time, adjusting the emphasis between drama and songs," reported Screendaily
"Baahubali" is one of the most-awaited movies of the year and it is being made in Tamil and Telugu languages with a budget of around ₹175 crore. The pre-release business, according to some reports, has already crossed the ₹100 crore mark.
The movie is scheduled to release in over 3,500 screens in India by July 2015.
Although almost all posters introducing important characters have been released, those of Bhalladeva and Baahubali is expected to come out on 20 and 22 May, respectively.
The film has created a massive buzz with its posters and the director of the movie has announced that the trailer and the audio of the movie will be released on 31 May, 2015.
dancelover: Finished Madhu, thru the film he is working on today!
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dancelover: Now working Madhu's lists
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