Deohans, Prime Focus work for ‘real’ look of Jodhaa Akbar

Mumbai: Making a film look fantastic is difficult, but making it look real is even more so. This statement holds truer in the case of Ashutosh Gowarker’s epic Jodhaa Akbar starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai.

Together with cinematographer Kiran Deohans (Aks, Kabhie Alvida Naa Kehna fame) and Prime Focus’ DI supervisor Rohan Desai, Gowariker created a historic atmosphere for his movie.

A movie’s look depends a lot on the cinematographer’s interpretation of the theme and script, and this is where Gowariker scored. Deohans says, "After the script narration, Ashutosh and I did our individual researches and we both came up with same references for the look of the film. So there was no conflict of interest on the shoot."

Hollywood film Gladiator, which has a canvas of brown with splashes of color served as one of the reference points for Jodhaa Akbar.

Deohans further added that no filters were used while shooting. All the color grading and tweaking happened only in post-production through Digital Intermediate (DI) solution, in order to maintain consistency in the film’s look.

To further keep things as natural as possible, even the lights during the shoot were kept to a minimum because in the 14th century, daylight and torches were the sole sources of light. Although dramatic effect demanded something extra, ‘real’ was given priority.

Speak about the song Azeem-o-shaan Shenshah, Deohans in all excitement says, "Our only reference was the movie Chitralekha and we decided to make it bigger than that. That song was shot over nine days with over a thousand people. The last shot where the camera keeps moving up to reveal more and more people was quite tough." Gowarikar even conducted a dress rehearsal of the song with a video camera to ensure no chaos on the sets on the shoot.

For the post-production, extensive preparation and storyboarding was done so as to achieve the exact look that the creative team was looking for.

"We graded four hours of film and this was, technically, the most difficult DI Prime Focus has done", says Desai. The reason was the brief given by the director Ashutosh and Kiran who wanted the movie to look as real as possible.

Adds Desai, "Even internationally, most of the period films use a tone to show ageing but for Jodhaa Akbar the look had to be natural, real and consistent throughout the movie. The action sequence in the climax with Hrithik Roshan and Nikitan Dheer was shot over 20 days, in different lighting and weather conditions, and it was quite challenging to grade to conform to the look of the movie."

The colorists at Prime Focus Rohan Desai and Manoj Verma spent nearly 45 days to get the look of the film right. With a team of 40 people, doing back-end work, masking, DI scanning, this was one long process for them.

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