Sajid upbeat on Rs 400 mn directorial debut

MUMBAI: Sajid Khan’s much talked about directorial debut venture Hey Baby starring Akshay Kumar, Fardeen Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Boman Irani and Vidya Balan is all set to hit the floors in November. However, it is not a comedy film as one would expect the maverick Sajid to make, but is a light hearted romantic drama about human relationships.

Speaking about the film he says, “Sajid Nadiadwala is producing the film for me and the budget is Rs 400 million (Rs 40 crore). We are spending almost Rs 47 million on the visual effects by using a new technology called Motion Capture. This is generally done on a 3D animated CGI (computer graphic imaging) but for the first time ever in the history of world cinema, we are doing this on an actual person. Nick Nickolai from Sydney who has earlier worked on movies like The Matrix, Babe and Power Rangers – the movie will be working on my film.”

“By using this technology I can shoot with a baby even if the baby is sad or crying and later morph a smiling face on the baby’s original face. So as a filmmaker, it makes it convenient for me to shoot,” he explains.

Sajid has already conducted two test shoots for the film and will be conducting one more in New Zealand. The approximate budget of one test shoot is Rs 800,000.

However, the exorbitant spends do not end here. “I had told Nadiadwala that I want to shoot in an Udaipur fort with 200 – 300 junior artists. Instead he has given me a Rs 30 million set, 1000 junior artists and 50 elephants, four helicopters, a big stage and a coliseum,” elaborates Sajid.

The music of Hey Baby is composed by Shankar Ehsaan Loy. The film will be shot in Sydney, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Toronto (where a sky diving sequence is going to be shot), Mumbai and Udaipur. The shooting is expected to wrap up by March next year.

Expalining the technology used, Sajid further adds, “We don’t know what we will get while shooting so to be on the safer side, we have to use this motion capture technique. If we want a particular expression from the baby, which may not be possible at the given time of the shoot so there will be another performer who will put a track point on the face and those track points will be captured from different directions using a mini DV camera from at least four different angles and then those facial expressions will be analysed and mapped on another CG baby. After that this mesh will be put on the actual baby. This technology has been used earlier in Lord of the Rings and King Kong.”

Speaking on the potential of his film in the overseas market, Sajid says, “I had an idea for an action and a horror film prior to this. However, these genres don’t have much potential in the overseas market, which is a big market. I believe that when you make a film, it should appeal universally to a cross-section of the society. Why should you make it only for a certain segment of audience? A film should cut through all barriers.”

What remains to be seen is how universally appealing Hey Baby will eventually turn out to be.

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Rohini Bhandari

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