Director Ayan Mukerji opened up about the many behind-the-scenes issues that caused massive delays on his epic fantasy film Brahmastra, and left producer Karan Johar sweating after revealing tentative release windows for the film’s two planned follow-ups. The two participated in an interaction organised by FICCI, and moderated by journalist Komal Nahta.
Ayan said that he took two or three years in pre-production on the film, and actually thought of himself as a young Steven Spielberg during this time. “I’d done my best, we’d done a lot of research, a lot of visual effects work. I thought I’d cracked it,” he said. They decided to begin the first schedule of filming by canning the climax sequence. “And I remember, right after we shot that schedule, after all that pre-production, our VFX budget basically tripled. And now the film had begun.”
Asked if this was because of a lack of planning, Ayan said, “I don’t think it was a lack of planning. For all the partners involved, including the VFX teams, what we were attempting for Indian films was very new. They didn’t know what they could run into… I called the head of Disney at the time, and Karan and I, we all flew down to London. And we had already shot a big portion of the film, and we didn’t know if we would be able to raise the rest of the funds to finish it. So, those were very challenging days. Our little group that was trying to make the film, we also went through a lot of internal stress, but we came back stronger, we kept moving forward.”
Brahmastra is reportedly budgeted at Rs 410 crore — the highest ever for a Hindi film — although recently both Ayan and Karan have said that the budget has gone into producing not just the first film, but also preparing for the two sequels. Starring Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, Brahmastra has been planned as a trilogy.
Ayan also said that unlike the first film, which was announced back in 2014 and released in September this year, he anticipates a quicker turnaround on the sequels. The second film, he said, he plans on releasing around Diwali 2025, and the third film around Christmas 2026. Karan looked visibly taken aback as Ayan said this. The producer interjected with a laugh, “I just hope you know that you have given the release date for part two and three and very nicely blocked those dates… I’m a little shocked that you’ve given this information away.” Addressing the crowd, he continued, “I think what he’s saying in a very casual way… I was getting a little stressed, I could feel my stress beads coming out, like why is he giving this information out.”
Ayan said that he plans on filming the next two parts back-to-back. This strategy has been used on the recent Ponniyin Selvan movies by Mani Ratnam, and in Hollywood productions such as Harry Potter, Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Hunger Games.