Hollywood experts,technicians eye Bollywood

With Hindi cinema embracing the edgy and the real,foreign technicians are making a beeline for Mumbai.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published: May 10, 2013 5:50:15 am

Four years back when Nikos Andritsakis visited Mumbai to shoot a commercial,he didn’t know anything about the Indian film industry. Through a colleague, Andritsakis met director Dibakar Banerjee,who was looking for a new cinematographer for Love Sex aur Dhokha,a film that had to be shot in the style of CCTV footage. This was the beginning of their creative collaboration,which has continued with Shanghai and Banerjee’s short film in Bombay Talkies.

“He is constantly discovering a new language to tell his stories and doesn’t want to repeat himself,” says Andritsakis,who just wrapped up shooting Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly.

Like 36-six-year old Andritsakis,a number of cinematographers,musicians,stunt directors and physical trainers,are dedicating their time in Bollywood — even if it means squeezing out time from scheduled dates given to directors such as Christopher Nolan,as did the stunt director of his Dark Knight Trilogy,Tom Struthers,for Nikhil Advani’s D-Day.

For his high-powered RAW agent action drama,Advani wanted the film’s action to be as real as possible,along the lines of Zero Dark Thirty. Advani recalls how Struthers,one of Hollywood’s most sought-after names,who has worked in films such as Inception,Blood Diamond and Troy,agreed to do the film without much difficulty.

“He told me that he couldn’t believe that something like D-Day was being made in India. If you have something that will excite them,there is no reason why they wouldn’t do it,” says Advani,who planned the budget of his film around Struther’s fees,which though came for a subsidised Hollywood rate,was high by Indian film industry standards.

These collaborations suggest that the industry is striving to reach world standards,at least on technical levels. This is fuelled by a group of filmmakers with global sensibilities.  

“While making a film,I don’t limit myself to Bollywood; instead I like to think of putting up a global team,whoever fills the part,” says Raj Nidimoru,one half of director duo Raj-DK who got on board Australian DOP Dan Macarthur and Polish DOP Lukazs Pruchnik for Go Goa Gone. For the prosthetics of the zombies,they sought help from Emmy Award winning make up artist Sean Genders,who has worked in Matrix series and Star Wars II. “It was exciting because in many ways we were going to introduce zombies to Indians. We gave it a more practical look,and painted them all by hand,” says the 40-year-old Genders,who currently lives in Melbourne.

The film’s other prosthetic artist,Tom Luhtala,who specialises in medium-budget,indie prosthetic make-up effects had earlier worked on the superhero suits in RA.One.

Having spent substantial time in the industry some of the experts are expanding their Bollywood repertoire. Like composer Wayne Sharpe,who has moved from the epic-styled background scores for Prakash Jha films Aarakshan and Raajneeti to small budget,independent films like Dekh Indian Circus,this year’s National Award winner. His next is with national award winning director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan’s dark comedy, 72 Virgins. Kiwi arranger turned composer Mikey McCleary,who made the saucy versions of old Hindi film songs popular,has composed music for Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala,and has been signed on for his next production,Sonali Cable.

“Working with foreign crews help logistically also. Foreign DOPs,for example,work in a minimal crew,which helps when you are shooting abroad under a relatively smaller budget. Moreover,they have the experience of working in a certain kind of cinema,” says Nidimoru.

Even Bollywood superstars are not averse to calling in Hollywood experts. Aamir Khan’s secret preparations of his role in Dhoom 3,where he plays a gymnast,under American fitness trainer David have been much in news.  Hrithik Roshan sought the expertise of fitness trainer Kris Gethin before getting into shape for Krrish 3.

Hrithik Roshan,who was suffering from slip-disc and was in bed rest for over two months,was put into a regime that saw him training with a bungee,sledgehammer and rope.

“One of the major concerns was that he had to perform his own stunts. Of the 10 weeks of our initial training,he didn’t cheat once,” says the US-based fitness trainer. Roshan adds,”Kris helped me to get into shape and I would say,if you want to know the secret of my fitness you should read his book,Guide To Your Best Body.”

With a high-profile clientele that includes Ranveer Singh,Arjun Kapoor and Karan Johar,Gethin plans to expand his company’s operations to Mumbai.

The list is growing.

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