Soundarya R. Ashwin, daughter of Indian cinestar Rajinikanth, has pulled off many firsts with her directorial debut Kochadaiiyaan, touted as the country's first 'photo-realistic performance capture' entertainer. But pulling it off wasn't a bed of roses for the young woman, who dealt with the lack of technical expertise and worked around a "miniscule" budget to create it.
With a passion for animation, the well-informed 29-year-old is
hopeful that her movie will break myths about the genre, and that
it will set the stage for the "abundant talent" in the country to
learn the technical innovations which are globally taking
filmmaking to another level.
In an exclusive tete-a-tete with IANS in the capital, where she
was present to receive the Technical Innovation In Film honour at
the NDTV Indian Of The Year awards, Soundarya spoke of
Kochadaiiyaan, the challenges faced by her and the
prospects of animation films in the country.
Excerpts from Soundarya's interview:
Q. How should the layman understand 'photo-realistic performance capture'?
Performance capture is a technology where we capture the performance of the actors and we attach it to a virtual image of the characters we create. It's a very technical word, but it is to highlight the fact that it is a realistic film on the lines of Werewolf and Avatar, and not on the lines of The Polar Express or Tintin, which are on the cartoon side. Continue Soundarya Rajinikanth's Interview On Kochadaiiyaan in the slideshow.
How did you come across this technology?
This technology came into use only after Avatar (2009),
where facial actions were captured in a particular technology and
then used. I kept myself constantly updated on how the technology
evolved, and that's how everything came together and
Did the post-production work happen in India or abroad?
We worked all around the world. I had a 100-member team in
India, and a 100-member team in China. Also, a number of people in
Britain and the US worked with us. We shot in London, so a lot of
people from across the world worked on the movie.
In India, animation is still stereotyped as a 'for kids' genre of films. Does that disturb you?
Unfortunately, a majority of people in our country feel an
animation film is a cartoon, which it is not. Animation is a
process. I hope Kochadaiiyaan breaks that myth and that it
is accepted as an alternate fillmmaking medium.
Animation Is Required For Films
I believe animation is required for films as nine out of 10
films go through immense VFX work and animation is a higher
category of visual effects. I think once people accept that
animation does not mean cartoons, it's going to be a very big
Is India well-equipped to handle a film of this scale?
Yes and no. From my experience of doing Kochadaiiyaan,
I feel we lack trained technicians. It's not just having the
software, it's about knowing how to use it and how to operate it.
The talent is abundant. We just need to tap it right and give them
the platform. I hope more films like Kochadaiiyaan are
made so that people have the opportunity to learn the new
What were the obstacles you faced due to this lack of technicians?
Lots, I would say. But my core team was good, and we managed to
create our own pipeline...It wasn't success at every step... I
think every first attempt is like that. My core team was really my
Do you believe our theatres and screens are technologically advanced to screen a movie like Kochadaiiyaan?
In India, 3D screens are not very many as we would have liked.
Also, some screens in rural areas are not as well-equipped as
multiplexes and that denies people the actual experience. I don't
think our theatres are as good as they can be. Even the projector
quality and glass quality can improve because that's what enhances
the experience. Here, 3D glasses give you a headache, and 3D films
are not meant to give a headache. I feel screens can be better, and
more 3D screens should come in because it is a visual experience
and it is unfair to deny it to people in cities with no
The film's budget is much lesser than a film of this scale would require. How did you work around the logistics to ensure best production quality?
The budget was miniscule! The time and budget that we have put
into Kochadaiiyaan is nothing compared to what is actually
required for a film like this. A pressure that I faced while making
the movie was 'Why the delay?' But it wasn't the delay...it is the
process that takes such a long time to make a film like
Soundarya On Kochadaiiyaan Budget
But I think there needs to be a first, and then the rest of the
films can follow and be better. We are happy with the way
Kochadaiiyaan has shaped up. I don't think we have
compromised on anything. But, yes, with more budget and time, can
the film look better? Of course, I am not going to deny