The 17th edition of the Mumbai International Film Festival, which has just ended, has followed the tradition of holding masterclasses on various topics related to the film industry.
One was on “The Art of Storytelling” led by Prasoon Joshi who is a writer, poet, lyricist, screenwriter and communication specialist and the other masterclass was led by PC Sanath on “VFX: The Constantly evolution for storytelling”.
The PC Sanath masterclass was more of a demonstration workshop. Sanath is the co-founder and director of Firefly Creative Studio which is located in Hyderabad. For the past two and a half decades, Sanath has created visual effects for films and he has been a VFX supervisor for major films like Baahubali: the beginning, Robot, and others. He started the session by saying he got into animation because he loved telling stories.
Sanath took the audience on a journey of VFX and film history simultaneously. He talked about the process of making the film from the days of French filmmakers Frères Lumière, Georges Méliès to Dadasaheb Phalke in India.
He said that when a filmmaker or technician is unable to achieve something in a movie, they turn to VFX artists to make that magic happen. According to him, previously there was minimal use of VFX in movies, but now one cannot imagine a single movie without VFX. About VFX, he added, “The limit is your imagination for this (VFX) tool.”
As the medium of filmmaking has evolved over the years, VFX as a tool has also evolved by embracing new emerging technologies. Sanath pointed out that the use of visual effects has changed over the years. Previously it was used for magic effects, action sequences, digital makeup and location reconstruction with the real world references or photo references and now VFX pushes the boundaries as it is used to create a fantasy world, supernatural characters, realistic animals, digital doubles. Moreover, it is possible to create destruction scene like tsunami, forest fire or any natural disaster or action sequence of this effect using VFX. Previs is the visual recipe for film and is widely used today.
Now the industry is using artificial intelligence (AI) based tools for visual effects. This masterclass also demonstrated how visual effects have helped filmmakers conceptualize and realize their cinematic ambitions, as well as the potential that VFX presents to future storytellers as new frontiers are explored with tools such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
A well-known name in the Indian film industry, Prasoon Joshi’s masterclass tackled various aspects of writing and storytelling through anecdotes and metaphors, his classic style of communication. According to him, first-hand truth is of the utmost importance when starting to write a story and one should start writing about the things they know and feel, it helps set the tone of the story.
He gave advice on how to approach the story or the subject according to one’s choice and convenience, because everyone has and should have their own unique approach to the story that will make it authentic. In the context of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Joshi mentioned that stories are narratives and that a person’s narrative depends on how you approach them. He went on to talk about parkaya pravesh which means entering into someone’s body through soul or spirit. Continue within the framework of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and how to make the film more real for the audience, he said that even if one tries to take the best approach for the film, one cannot entirely do parkaya pravesh but one can give an authentic touch to the film. “You can’t understand the absolute truth, but you can understand the point of view.”
While talking about his remarkable work in Taare Zameen By, his personal background and experiences helped him write the lyrics for the songs. He believes that a personal journey is very necessary to create a beautiful work. The lyrics of the title song of Taare Zameen By had words from his native country and he observed the kind of words that children say when talking to others, it was all part of his creative process and he said, “Don’t cut yourself off from your roots or from reality, you can’t get any real content if you cut yourself off from your roots.
Towards the end, he said that filmmaking should be made easy for everyone, and the focus of filmmaking should be the story, not the process.