2.0 cinematographer says working on the film was liberating: I'm glad people are appreciating the 3D

Surendhar MK

Dec 10, 2018 16:33:59 IST

Ace cinematographer Nirav Shah is known for crafting stylised visuals (Billa, Thaandavam, Engeyum Kadhal) and working on a wide range of projects across genres (Va Quarter Cutting, Madrasapattinam, Saivam, Kaaviya Thalaivan). At a time when filmmakers usually take a studied call to work with technicians they're extremely comfortable with for their dream projects, Shankar decided to go with Nirav Shah for 2.0, which marked the duo's first collaboration.

"I always have this jittery feel before starting any project about how to handle it and 2.0 being a 3D film did increase that feeling. I wondered about the ways to pull off something this big. And now it feels so good to witness the response the film has garnered. I've had a liberating experience shooting the film. I'm glad that people are appreciating the 3D in the movie because that was the single point focus for me. 3D has also helped in making the film work," Nirav Shah tells Firstpost in this exclusive chat.

Rajinkanth and Akshay Kumar in a promotional still of 2.0

Rajinkanth and Akshay Kumar in a promotional still of 2.0

Nirav says Shankar didn't bring any particular film to the table for reference to 2.0. "Shankar didn't bring any specific movie for reference. There was nothing like that. To learn 3D, I attended a workshop conducted by Sony in Mumbai just to get the hang of it, and it helped a lot for the movie. I like the amount of planning Shankar does. He also handles his actors really well."

Talking about the challenging scenes in the film, Nirav says, "There was a lot of satisfying and challenging sequences like the stadium sequence and Chitti's comeback scene. Every sequence was long, and just because the VFX team had an equal part in the story, it doesn't mean we can do a relaxed job. When they worked on the 3D modeling, we had to shoot plates with or without characters in it. And no sequence was short; every sequence was long, and it had a process to follow. There was hardly any sequence that we had shot and wrapped quickly."

Asked about the team's decision to go for native 3D instead of post-conversion, Nirav explains, "I have seen a lot of post-conversion 3D films and those don't really give a 3D feel. I think there's a limitation with the technology. When it was decided to be a 3D film, we felt we might as well make it properly using native 3D."

Also read: 2.0 director Shankar on plans for a sequel: We have an idea but I can't imagine 3.0 without Rajinikanth

In a recent interaction, director Shankar spoke about how shooting the film in native 3D with just four lenses was a constraint. However, Nirav differs. "Yes, we had only four lenses to work, but I didn't see that as a setback. I was keen on figuring out what I can do with what I had. Only the wide lenses can give depth and help us feel the background. The rig was so heavy that it required at least two strong people to carry it. We had to set the frame, align the lenses and the rig before filming every shot; to shoot a low angle shot required a change in the rig positions. After the first schedule we picked up the pace, and we were constantly thinking ahead."

2.0 was shot for two hundred and forty days, says Nirav. "At any given time, we had two rigs with two cameras each. When we employ one rig for shooting the current sequence, we used to keep the other one aligned, and mounted on the crane to keep it ready for the next sequence if needed. It was a way for us to move faster else it could have taken longer," he said about the physical difficulties in 3D.

There's a perception that 3D as technology can only be suited to films that have scope for extensive visual effects. However, Nirav says 3D can also be used for a straightforward mainstream narrative. "For a small film, there's time and budget constraint. But a film with a dramatic narration can definitely be made even more fascinating with a 3D; for instance, Madrasapattinam. 3D doesn't necessarily mean that there should be objects coming at you all the time. The feel of 3D is very nice, and we feel it very real and can see oneself in the space along with the characters."

Rajinikanth in 2.0. YouTube

Rajinikanth in 2.0. YouTube

Nirav said there was no specific discussion with Shankar about setting the right tone for a particular sequence. "As I read a scene or a director narrates a scene, I try to gauge the mood of it. After knowing the mood of a scene, things get easy because what is left to do is to recreate the mood onscreen. For 2.0 we gradually decided on the visual language as we worked."

Although 2.0 is a VFX-heavy movie, there was not too much green screen for Nirav to feel creatively constrained about it. "Be it the Delhi stadium sequence, or Akshay's bird sequence, we had to shoot the plates for each scene and give it to the VFX team to work on it. Since we had pre-vis, we had the plate for each scene. We had never shot any scene with just the green screen," he said.

When asked to give a few examples of scenes where he used the depth in the frame effectively in 2.0, Nirav explains, "The conference hall scene with the minister and the scenes of Akshay's home. In the conference scene, we decided to have mics and green color lights so that it gives you more sense of depth. It is not always a thumb rule to use the 3D elements for humongous sets or animated sequences. It's just a conversation scene, and we worked to make 3D effective in it. Another scene where 3D was very effective was Akshay Kumar's home portions which were filled with birds. We used a lot of depth. There was a constant discussion on how much depth to have in front of the screen and vice versa."

Akshay Kumar as the cell-phone robot antagonist in Rajinikanth-starrer 2.0. YouTube screengrab

Akshay Kumar as the cell-phone robot antagonist in Rajinikanth-starrer 2.0. YouTube screengrab

Nirav's upcoming projects include Aaranya Kaandam filmmaker Thiagarajan Kumararaja's Super Deluxe and Sivakarthikeyan's untitled sci-fi entertainer with director Ravi Kumar. "DOP Vinoth and I have shot Super Deluxe. I've filmed the Vijay Sethupathi, and Mysskin episodes. It has come out very well, and I'm very excited about the movie. It's a very nice film, and I'm very happy that Thiagarajan Kumararaja asked me to shoot it."

"Sivakarthikeyan's film is as complicated as 2.0. Though not on the same scale, it's as complicated as 2.0 since there's a lot of visual effects involved. We have completed nearly 50% of the film. It's a very VFX-heavy movie," he says on a concluding note.

Updated Date: Dec 10, 2018 16:33:59 IST