“We have our own look and we didn’t need to go for any international material or reference. We have fantastic influences available in our epics and literature,” says ace cinematographer S. Tirru while talking about the look and design adopted for the recently released Krrish 3. In an exclusive conversation with Pandolin, this cinematic genius who has many south Indian and Hindi films to his credit, shares his experiences, challenges faced and the discussions happened while shooting Krrish 3.

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What was the kind of approach you wanted to adopt for filming Krrish 3?

Once I read the script, I divided it into two parts. I wanted to keep Kaal’s (Vivek Oberoi) evil world very dark and give it a cooler tone whereas Krishna’s (Hrithik Roshan) portion to be very colorful. Keeping the dark images in mind for Kaal, black and grey costumes were decided. Director, Rakesh ji was happy with the look I had decided. Accordingly production designer, Sabu Cyril was briefed on what I was looking for in terms of walls and the skin tone. He was also convinced about the whole thing and that’s how we locked the look of Krrish 3.

Did you work with any references or draw inspiration from other superhero films?

I got references from the Internet and books for designing Kaal’s laboratory set. I looked at various biological laboratories and real high-end research centers to get an idea of how a lab should be. Because when you are doing something like this, you have to take care of many parameters, for example, in a lab, one can’t use normal light as the lights should all be fireproof, heatproof and shock-proof there. The design itself looks somewhat weird since it doesn’t resemble our normal domestic light fittings. So we went for very rare designs, just like NASA or any high-end operation theater and brought light references from there. Apart from this, we didn’t take any references for the film because we looked at the whole film as an Indian superhero story. We have fantastic influences available in our epics and literature. Our color palette is completely different from Hollywood, as they would make it artificial, which Krrish 3 is not at all. It is very much about living amidst everyone where you can’t eliminate the colors.

Where all did you shoot the film? Could you also elaborate on the sets that were created for the movie?

20 percent of the film was shot on real locations while 80 percent has been shot on set. There were two laboratories and house interior that were created at Filmistan Studios, Mumbai. We also created a street resembling Mumbai showing huge skyscrapers, which was built in Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. There is one song that we shot in Jordan. Besides, there were few scenes, for which we went to Singapore and Switzerland.


What was the camera setup like and what sort of lenses did you work with?

Earlier, we planned to shoot with Red Epic but since in CGI, lots of technical issues arise in terms of digital compression, we couldn’t shoot on the digital format. We did shoot few portions with Red, but majorly we shot on 35 mm film. Also, I brought a new set of lenses, Cooke S5 from Prime focus for shooting Krrish 3. I must say, Cooke lenses are one of the best lenses, which give a realistic tone and compression, especially while using film where tone is so much important. Cooke S5 is really competitive to ARRI and a wonderful set of lenses available in India now. And since we were shooting super 35 format, I wanted a good set of lenses that could give a perfect image not only in the center  but also on the edges. That’s why I used Cooke S5.

What kind of camera movements and compositions were incorporated in the film? Did you use any special equipment for a particular sequence in Krrish 3?

This film needed a very particular kind of camera movement, as it has to be planned and traveled along with the character of Krrish. Since there was a lot of CGI work, we had to keep various factors in mind and then shoot, especially with the camera movements. You need to be very precise and for this we used a moving machine called Panther throughout the film. I like to operate the Panther along with the camera in order to achieve the right movement. So we used to coordinate all these things because camera movement was the most difficult part in Krrish 3.  We also used motion control camera for the double action father and son scenes.

Tell us about the lighting set up designed for the film.

For exterior sequences, we used 18k’s and paired up 2 12k’s to create a bigger source of  fill light for actors since we were constantly shooting against the sun. For interior the first set that we created in the film was Kaal’s laboratory. I really wanted to make it look sophisticated and realistic. So, every part of that set has been lit up inherently and you can see the light fixtures in the frame. I didn’t need any extra light apart from the ones that were rigged. One small light was always kept handy near the camera. I had pre-lit the set taking into consideration, all practical aspects. I didn’t need to worry about reflection or anything as my production designer Sabu Cyril designed it exactly according to my needs based upon the references I showed to him.


How would you describe working on this film especially when so much of VFX is involved?

Well, the whole film is a challenge for the cinematographer if you are working on a super hero film involving this kind of VFX. It will look simple but to create and shoot it, is a very difficult task. Because you have to understand the impact of the actions like when a superhero hits a wall or throws somebody on it. Not only the lighting but also you have to understand what kind of force and vibrations would happen around, what kind of disturbance would be created in the atmosphere and how it will affect the environment and shades. So, we did analyze all these aspects before the shoot began. The most challenging sequence of the film was the climax part where Vivek and Hrithik are fighting. It was shot on high speed with lot of wirework, huge cranes and tricky camera movements.

What are the special considerations that one must keep in mind while shooting such a grand VFX film?

First of all, you have to pre-visualize the whole action and the shots should project inside your mind. Now for this, you need to have great understanding and experience of shooting with VFX. You need to know how it functions and what all can be created or can’t be created via VFX. If the cinematographer doesn’t have the VFX knowledge then this kind of film would be a disaster only.

We had long elaborate meetings with the VFX team before the shoot and therefore, on the sets there was no confusion. Also, lots of pre-planning and discussions took place with the action directors as nearly fifty percent of this film is action. We didn’t face any big hassle on the location and that’s why we were able to finish this huge VFX film in just 120 days.

Attachment-1 (1)Where did the postproduction take place?

Previously it was planned with a veteran VFX supervisor named John who has worked on various Hollywood films. Initially, he designed everything but unfortunately, he couldn’t continue further. So, when he had to leave the film mid-way, the project went to Red Chillies. When John was there, Pixion was supposed to do it but then it came under the supervision of Red Chillies VFX.