Cinematographer KK Senthil Kumar and director SS Rajamouli have given some fascinating pieces of cinema to Telugu industry including Magadheera, Eega and Baahubali. The duo has worked in eight films since they started working in 2004. Senthil’s work in Eega and Baahubali has been able to break barriers of language and culture and capture the imagination of an entire country. Baahubali franchise is their eighth film together. Senthil says that it’s always a challenge to live up to SS Rajamouli’s vision. “Earlier we used to discuss basic things. But, now, things have become smooth. I instinctively know what he wants from a shot. Our only aim is to work on how we make a shot better than the previous one,” Senthil said in an interview with indianexpress.com. Below are some excerpts from the interview:
What will be new for the audience in Baahubali 2?
We are using the same technology that most films use in the country. So, we have not used anything ‘new’ specifically. We are using the same camera and lights. Bahubali 2 is a visual film and it has a lot of visual effects. We tried to create visuals that don’t exist in real life with VFX assistance. We are also releasing the film in IMAX format that will enhance the viewers’ experience. The image will be wider in Baahubali 2. So, you will get to see 25% more of Baahubali and Mahishmati kingdom compared to Baahubali 1. Also, Baahubali 1 was about character introduction. Baahubali 2 is grander than the first film. Everything is going to be on a bigger scale. You are going to see grandeur visuals and emotions.
What kind of new visuals will the audience get to see in Baahubali 2?
You have already seen new visuals in the trailer itself. Having said that, Baahubali 2 will have new visuals from Devasena’s (Anushka Shetty) kingdom. The first part only had Mahishmati and Devasena’s kingdom is in complete contrast to Mahishmati.
What was your daily routine during the making of the film?
For both films, we did a lot of things simultaneously. Every scene is pre-visualised before shooting. After completing the shoot, we would send footage to the VFX team and get a post-visualization. We will then see the footage on editing table and see if we are going in the right direction. We have been involved in intense post-production work for the last five months (after shoot got completed) when we started receiving VFX shots for colour grading (or colour correction). We make every scene (both VFX and non-VFX shots) similar in terms of colour and it takes a lot of time and is an intense process.
What were the challenges while working on Baahubali 2?
We encountered bad weather while shooting Baahubali 1 in Mahabaleshwar. There would also be the problem of bad light sometimes. But, the biggest challenge was to stay motivated for five years. It’s difficult to maintain the same enthusiasm for next five years. I don’t know how I did it. I am someone who likes the journey and process more than the end of a project.
Do you remember the first meeting when Rajamouli discussed the idea of Baahubali with you?
Before discussing any new film, SS Rajamouli narrates the story. He is a master story teller and he narrates very well. Rajamouli first discussed the idea when we completed Eega (2012). He told me that he wants to create a ‘visual film’ where a film’s scale should speak to the audience. Directors generally don’t use the term ‘visual film’, they would tell you that it’s an emotional film or otherwise. Listening to the word ‘visual’ was music to my ears.
Did SS Rajamouli ever lose his temper during the making of this film?
A lot of things are not under our control, they don’t go as we plan them. These kind of things are common in any big venture. But, SS Rajamouli kept his cool and that was really amazing. He understood that so many people were working on this project and things are bound to go wrong here and there. He is the captain of this ship and he knew that his mood can affect the entire team. Rajamouli understands that very well and he was cool headed through major situations. Sometimes, he did lose it here and there but that is bound to happen given the size of the team and co-ordination required.
Who was your favourite actor on the sets?
There are some actors who lighten the mood of the entire set. Ramya Krishnan (Sivagami) and Sathyaraj (Kattappa) were two such actors for us. The moment they entered the sets, one would feel good about it. These senior actors were always on time and disciplined. Whenever the director used to say ‘action’, they transformed into their characters. You would forget that they were just acting. Their dedication also had a positive effect on the entire team. It was great to see so much talent in a film.
How was the atmosphere while shooting Baahubali 2? Was there any kind of pressure?
There was much ease while shooting Baahubali 2. There was pressure while shooting the first part as we didn’t know about the outcome. It was a calculated risk as producers had put so much money into the project. So there was more anticipation while shooting the first part.
Also, we shot around 30-40 per cent of Baahubali 2 during the making of the first part. All drama (or emotional) scenes between actors were already shot. During Baahubali 2, we mostly shot action sequences. The only pressure while making Baahubali 2 was that we can’t make mistakes as so many people were going to watch it. So, it was more motivating than pressure.
Where did the team hang out in Hyderabad?
We hung out in Ramoji Film City (Laughs). There was no time to hang out during all these years. One would shoot for one day, pack up and start for next day. This was our basic routine. We used to hardly get 2-3 days off from schedule. So we used to spend that time with family as we hardly got to see our families. The last couple of months has been really hectic. I was living on coffee during last one week.