• "It was extremely fulfilling for us as a team to take the "Chaar Sahibzaade" prequel ahead and satisfactorily deliver something that was expected to be several notches superior"

    • Feb 18, 2017
    • 2:58 PM

    With more than 22 years of experience in the animation industry, Mr. Ashutosh Jayakar has been charming the audience with his enthralling characters and riveting stories. Currently spearheading India's biggest animation studio 'Prime Focus' as Creative Director, Mr. Jayakar is the best person to get in touch with if you are looking for a team of animators to create your next big project. Under his visionary leadership, Prime Focus has gone on to produce some of the most critically and commercially successful TV series and films over the years, the recent one being 'Chaar Sahibzaade 2'. In an exclusive interaction with Bollywood & TV Reporter, Mr. Jayakar talks about his latest outing 'Chaar Sahibzaade 2' and how it has been different from other projects he has worked on.

    Tell us a bit about your project 'Chaar Sahibzaade'.
    "Chaar Sahibzaade - 2, Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur" is a sequel to the 2014 Punjabi blockbuster "Chaar Sahibzaade" in which the two elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh get martyred while the younger ones get inhumanly executed at the hands of Wazir Khan. The sequel is set around the 17th - 18th century and Governor Wazir Khan is still the ruler of Sirhind. Those are the days of tyranny as common folk are being subject to atrocities of the Mughal Rulers. The story begins with Guru Gobind Singh visiting Madho Das, who is living the life of an ascetic. Madho Das becomes Guru Gobind Singh's disciple and later goes on to become "Banda Singh Bahadur" Guru Gobind Singh entrusts Banda Singh Bahadur to fight the tyranny of the Mughals. During the course of events, assassins sent by Wazir Khan stab Guru Gobind Singh, and though the assassins are killed immediately, Guru Gobind Singh leaves his human form shortly. The story highlights the series of battles won by Banda Singh Bahadur leading to the climatic "Battle of Chhapar Chiri" wherein Wazir Khan is finally defeated. Prime Focus is the exclusive Animation and 3D partner for 'Chaar Sahibzaade: The Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur'.

    What attracted you to this project?
    Indian Animation stories, especially on the big screen, haven't moved much beyond the kids genre, in content and in quality. This story however was different, as it aimed at a larger family audience and it was an exciting proposition to bring to the silver screen such strong Indian content using high quality animation created right here in India. That and the sheer scale of this project - not only in terms of the rich elements of the story but also in terms of the number of characters, the variety and detail in the wardrobe, the spectacular action sequences and the authenticity of the sets. It was extremely fulfilling for us as a team to take the prequel ahead and satisfactorily deliver something that was expected to be several notches superior and ended up being so.

    How has 'Chaar Sahibzaade' been different from other projects that you have handled so far?
    "Chaar Sahibzaade-Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur" was different on many accounts. As I said before, this definitely has been one of the rare attempts to bring Indian content to the big screen using animation as the medium. Being a historical story, it had a grand scale which included everything from palaces and entire cities, to villages, battlefields and more. This movie demanded realistic animation of the human anatomy, without the use of motion capture which made it very different and challenging. Since the story is about real places and characters, a lot of efforts went into the research and development and getting accurate the layout and architecture of entire cities from Banda Singh Bahadur's era. Most of the characters were already introduced in the prequel, and one major task for the animation team, was to work within limitations to preserve the features of the characters, while at the same time enhancing their overall appearance by many notches. This was done by tweaking shaders and tuning facial complexions to make them look more dynamic and lively. At Prime Focus Animation, we constantly strive to ensure that our productions are amongst the best-looking CG animated content out there and the key to it, is giving more than a 100% to each step of the process. The outcome indeed has been worth every effort that was put in.

    Which is that one particular character in the movie which you enjoyed a lot working on?
    Banda Singh Bahadur - undoubtedly. While modeling him, special emphasis was placed on imparting him with a warrior profile whilst retaining the soft appearance of an Ascetic.

    Are the makers happy with the result?
    Yes, our animation team is extremely proud of how the project has turned out. We've got a lot of good reviews for the animation which is really encouraging.

    Did any creative differences arise between your team and the makers while working on the project? If yes, then how did you tackle them?
    Passion for what you do does give rise to creative differences, which happened in the course of this movie as well. But then passion ends up being the solution too, where both sides realize through dialogue, what's best for the project. The differences were always constructive in nature where we would all try to understand where the other side is coming from and try to work through the hurdles and challenges together, so that a best possible outcome can be achieved.

    What is more challenging for you as an animator - working on a modern animation story or the historical/mythological one?
    Both have their own sets of challenges. Modern animation gives you flexibility while employing exaggerated movements; although often it ends up being demanding in terms of character development. Since they're imaginary characters, the team doesn't have many references to fall back to and have to rely solely on the brief and inputs shared by the director. Establishing the audience's connect with the characters becomes important and challenging. On the other hand a historical/mythological story needs you to animate the characters realistically and there are many references about the characters, which can be of help. However, the challenge comes from the fact that the animation needs to look believable to the audience, and after a while the audience should forget that they are indeed watching an animated movie.

    How many hours/manpower did it take to complete this project?
    Over a period of 17 months, some 400 artists from Prime Focus' Mumbai and London facilities collaborated at different stages to complete this project.