It's a known fact now that Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra's Rang De Basanti has won the hearts of many. And along with the entire packaging, what has won a lot of accolades is the cinematography. What stood out were the sepia toned scenes of the past. The pre independence era was beautifully juxtaposed with the present with the help of these tones. But getting the right color tone was no easy task. The entire team went to great lengths to ensure that they got it 'just right.' The Digital Intermediate, including the tone were done by Mumbai based EFX (VFX & Post production services arm of Prasad Group) using Autodesk Discreet Lustre.
At the very onset of the film, the director has a crystal clear vision about what he wanted to show on celluloid. The Director of Photography, Binod Pradhan and Ken Metzker along with the entire team began their brainstorming sessions. Mehra knew that he needed a different tone for the past. The separation had to be pronounced, to create an impact. Having got the brief, the creative team set to work.
Varied looks were experimented with. These various looks were actually recorded. Some of these tests included black and white, varying degrees of desaturation, colour tones, and mixed tones. Even after trying such an assortment of 'looks', they were not satisfied. One thing which Rakeysh knew for sure was that the look had to be radical and something which was not done to death.
Many discussions later, they zeroed in on a look. The photographs of the 1920's and 30's were often hand painted to attain more separation. The plan was to translate this look on celluloid. It was decided that the tone of the skin, foliage, fire would be colored. These items were key in taking the story forward as well as achieving separation. It meant a lot of work which had to be completed in a deadline, of course. There was so much pressure that three Autodesk Discreet Lustres has to be used at the same time.
Although they had achieved just the right look for the past, it had to be ensured that the past blended well with the present. The present was required to look very authentic. If there was excessive use of Digital Intermediate in the present, it would not be real. Hence, they decided to go with a cooler tone. To cite an example from the film, the fire party scene stands out. The party location was clearly established because of the dark cityscape and a brighter party scene. The entire bonfire looks extremely realistic.
The entire creative team behind Rang De Basanti has proved the potential of the Autodesk Discreet Lustre system. The colors have added to the overall experience of the film. It is a case of technology at its best. Many grueling hours were put in by all who were working on the film. And the subsequent result is for all to see.