Soundharya Rajinikanth, the director of Sultan, the Warrior in an exclusive chit-chat with Times of India clears away all the doubts about the project and also speaks in detail about the plot and punch dialogue in the film.
Thanks to Times of India for giving us a wonderful morning.
A six-pack Rajini in Sultan
Soundarya Rajinikanth talks to CT about the experience of animating her father in her upcoming film
Get set to whistle non-stop. Superstar Rajinikanth is all set to sport a sixpack. So what if it is in the animated film, Sultan the Warrior? The resemblance to Rajini is remarkable.
“We have been able to achieve a celluloid look because we motion captured him,” says Soundarya Rajinikanth, co-producer of Sultan the warrior.
Soundarya checks the gray scale, then goes back to the original motion capture images. Forty eight cameras read only the glowing markers on a tight body suit that he wears. But Rajini does not merely go through the motions. His face, eyes, eyebrows, all come alive. “He is a director’s delight, and that is why we have been able to achieve a finish not attempted in India so far,” she adds.
Some of Hollywood’s best technicians have helped achieve the look. The facial animation (you have only around 200 muscles to replicate) has been done by Image Matrix, the company that did that fabulous work on Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. “We have outsourced nearly 30 per cent of our work and it all needs to gel together,” adds Soundarya.
The USD 5 million project has been in the making for a few years now. “Maybe I was a little too optimistic that the full length animation film (one hour and 45 minutes running time, as of now) could be finished in two years time,” she says and adds “Internationally, it is known that an animation film with VFX takes much longer.”
With a background in multimedia, how did she turn to direction and where did she get the story idea from? “Oh, it’s appa’s ‘knot’ actually,” she says. “We normally discuss stories and when he mentioned this one, I wanted to make an animated film at once. He said, ‘Come back to me with a screenplay and we will see’. I did and he gave the thumbs up,” says Soundarya.
Nearly 70 per cent of the film is done, says Ravikumar Anandaraj, chief technical officer and executive producer of the film.
It is a film set in the Chola period. With Rahul Dev having been motion captured as the villain who is also a classical dancer and a martial arts expert, will this be a kind of Sultan-meets-Bruce Wayne film? “No, he is not Superman, he cannot fly, but Sultan will connect with the warrior in every one of us. It is a commercial film with love, betrayal, revenge, action and humour,” she explains.
What about the trademark Rajni punch dialogues?
“Adikkira kaathula parakkura elai illada Sultan, malai, asaikka mudiyadhu (Sultan is not a leaf to blow away in the wind, but a mountain. He is unshakable), ” Soundarya reels off one of the dialogues written by her.
“Shooting him was an awesome experience, we never had to go beyond one take, though when I said, ‘Retake’ he always obliged.”
Soundarya is also planning a glossy coffeetable book on the making of Sultan the Warrior. The mock up scenes will also be screened in theatres.
The film will be released in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi simultaneously. The Japanese and English versions will be released “according to theatrical release norms of that country,” she adds. “India is a happening place today, which was not the case three years ago, when I participated at Mipcom at Cannes (where international content is showcased). Now, international distributors are keen to discuss our films complete with song, dance and the climax fight,” says Soundarya.
Any confusion over the release date? “All I want is to gift a good, classy product to my dad, and such a gift can be given at Diwali,” she says.
A Diwali release? She laughs and responds with a question, “Or maybe an early new year gift?”
“What matters is that he is the first southeast Asian star to be animated, and it will be a classy work, something India will be proud of.
Our animation work has never crossed the oceans. It’s time it did,” says Soundarya.So how are things with Warner Bros, with whom her company had tied up for joint ventures? She opens a mail from Richard Fox of Warner Bros and reads it. “‘It’s going good and we have many projects in the pipeline. Warner Bros has been and will continue to work with you. Together, our companies have a number of south Indian language projects in various stages of production. We will announce these projects at the appropriate time. But, any rumour that suggests otherwise is simply not true’, said Richard Fox executive vice-president International, Warner Bros,” she says.
THE PROCESS OF ANIMATION
• First, a body scan was done
• Mesh rebuilding
• Anatomy finalisation
• Model rebuilding
• Rigging (attaching a skeleton to the body)