Rohit’s priority was to ensure that SRK & Kajol look fantastic
Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale has built up the anticipation for obvious reasons. Ace cinematographer Dudley who has had a long-standing association with Rohit Shetty and has worked on a number of Bollywood blockbusters like Singham, Chennai Express and others teams up once again with the Director and Shah Rukh Khan. He gets talking with Pandolin and shares his experience of working on the most awaited film of the year.
What kind of brief did you get from Rohit Shetty for Dilwale?
Before every film that one does with Rohit, there is always a story discussion. Once the entire script is written, the whole unit hasa story narration. This is the only unit that calls all the technicians, assistant directors and people from all other departments such as art, editing, production and then the narration is done. The look of the film then gets decided – from casting to location, situations etc. This is a regular practice in each and every film of Rohit Shetty, which is the fantastic part about him.
The most important thing about Dilwale is that Shahrukh and Kajol are coming together after a long gap. There is great expectation from the audience. So his first priority was to make sure that this couple looks fantastic. The looks had to be superb and extraordinary. The second thing is that Shahrukh has two looks in the movie – with and without the beard. So he wanted me to differentiate that through my treatment as well.
From Bol Bachchan to Singham, Golmaal 3 to Singham Returns; you have shot most of your films with Rohit Shetty and have also worked with Shahrukh in Chennai Express. With Dilwale, how has this collaboration become stronger?
The bonding is stronger. It has been a long relationship with Rohit Shetty of more than eight to nine years now. I’ve worked in most of his films so it is more like family. And this is my second film with Shahrukh Khan who is a very humble and professional actor. He is camera friendly and fabulous which is the biggest gift for any cinematographer. He is very passionate about acting and I haven’t seen any passionate actor like him. He is a thorough gentleman also. And with Rohit Shetty, anyone in the unit can give any kind of input. Even a spot boy can give a suggestion to him.
What kind of inhibitions did you have in mind while shooting Shahrukh and Kajol who have always created magic on screen with their scintillating chemistry?
I’ve completely followed the script when it comes to the visual treatment. We have focused a lot on visuals in this film. From Shahrukh to Kajol and Varun to Kriti; all are looking stunning in the film. We have especially made sure that both the ladies (Kajol and Kriti) look fabulous for which we have used filters and various special lights.
Tells us about the lighting set ups that you have used?
Most of the times we have used backlight. We had very good light options usually during the morning and evening hours. So we planned it in such a way that we could shoot the outdoor scenes of the entire film in the morning and evening. During the day we couldn’t shoot outside because of the top light as the faces of the artists would go for a toss. So during that time, we would shoot the indoor portions.
What are the locations where the film is shot?
It is shot in different locations – Bulgaria (almost half of the film), Mumbai, Goa and the song ‘Gerua’ was shot in Iceland.
The making of ‘Gerua’ has been trending a lot. From being shot on exotic locations to no usage of VFX, please share the experience of shooting this track.
After ‘Gerua’ was released, several cinematographer friends called me and mentioned the major usage of VFX in the song. I immediately called Rohit and told him about the wrong kind of feedback that the song is getting. I think we spent around seven crores on ‘Gerua’ and it happens to be the costliest song that was shot for over five days in Iceland. So we immediately released the making of ‘Gerua’.
The crew went to Iceland and almost all our equipment was transported to the place to ensure that the song appears fantastic. One of our Line Producers for Bulgaria was also the coordinator for Iceland. He suggested this location for ‘Gerua’. He showed the pictures to Rohit, Shahrukh and me and Rohit and Shahrukh then decided that we’ll shoot the song there.
Shooting the song was very difficult. The weather in Iceland is very unpredictable and anything can happen at any time. We were shooting between Icebergs which where the temperature is 0 degrees. Kajol was wearing just a saree and Shahrukh was also wearing only a single coat. And they were shivering. There is one sequence where Kajol and Shahrukh had to stand on a small mountain and we had to literally tie them on it as it was very slippery.
Kajol makes a comeback of sorts after almost five years. Did you have any specific discussions with her about her look in the film?
(laughs) She just told me once that “I should be looking great”. She is looking fabulous in the film and is very happy about it.
Could you share some of the toughest moments or scenes from the making of the film?
As I mentioned before, shooting ‘Gerua’ was very tough. Shooting the action scenes was also quite difficult. The action was shot in Bulgaria for 13 days and was a challenging part for us. We’ve recently released the making of the action sequences as everything is live, no VFX was used.
The film also has Rohit Shetty’s trademark scenes of cars toppling. How did you go about shooting them?
It was very difficult. Rohit Shetty’s films definitely have any of the three things – action, comedy and grandeur. His films have to have action but it is tough to shoot those scenes. When you them, it all easy but when it comes to reality, it gets really difficult. The task is challenging but we used to enjoy those challenges. The best part is that he is very strict and careful about safety. He would thoroughly check safety precautions before saying Action!
Which camera and lenses has been used in the film?
The main camera is Sony F65 and the other camera is Alexa XT. We used the Cooke S5/i lenses.
Is there anything new that you have experimented with in Diwale?
The shooting style is completely different as compared to Rohit’s previous films. We have tried our level best to match up to Hollywood films.
Most of your films largely revolve around action. Dilwale seems to have a romantic angle as well. How different was the shooting experience?
If you see the romantic scenes you’ll find that they have been shot in a very Yash Chopra style – typical European climate, flowers and gardens. We are trying to recreate that entire feel when it comes to romance.
Besides Dilwale, any other upcoming projects?
I am currently working on Ram Lakhan.