Breakdowns Main Story VFX

CG Amrish Puri to multiple explosions: Pixel D’s Ankur Sachdeva on VFX of ‘Gadar 2’

Released on 11 August 2023, the Sunny Deol starrer film Gadar 2 exceeded all expectations, emerging as a colossal box office success, amassing an astounding revenue of over Rs 520 crore.

The movie also stars Ameesha Patel, Utkarsh Sharma, Manish Wadhwa, Gaurav Chopra, Luv Sinha and Simrat Kaur. The film is co-produced by Zee Studios and Anil Sharma Productions. Notably, Anil Sharma, the director behind the original installment, also helms this sequel.

Gadar 2 showcases an array of intense visual effects scenes, replete with explosions, gunfire, and crowd extensions. Notably, the explosions in the film are strikingly well-executed, capturing the authentic white, yellow, orange, and red hues, complete with billowing smoke and the visually satisfying mushroom cloud that gracefully unfurls over the detonated objects. The fight and chase sequences involving bombs and explosives seem endless, but that means a lot of hard work by the VFX teams.

Most of the VFX for the film is done by Mumbai’s Pixel Digital Studio, which does post production, DI, sound and VFX. The studio has previously worked on projects including Disney Plus Hotstar’s sc-fi series Human, and films like Commando, Gully Boy and Article 15.

Gadar 2 VFX
Still from Gadar 2

A major breakthrough in Gadar 2, however, (SPOILER ALERT!) is the creation of a CG Amrish Puri.

When Pixel D founder and CEO Ankur Sachdeva started discussing with director Anil Sharma how they would go about making Gadar 2, one thing was established – if it was Gadar, it couldn’t be without the actor Amrish Puri. Puri, who passed away in 2005, had played the role of Sakina’s (played by Ameesha Patel) father in Gadar. To have him play a role in Gadar 2, albeit miniscule, meant that he had to be generated in CG. And that is the decision Sachdeva and Sharma took. “We (Pixel D team) started digging out the old footage of Amrish Puri to get his facial expressions, eyes, nose etc,” said Sachdeva, who is a VFX designer and a post production specialist. “To get it right, one set of our team worked dedicatedly on this for four months.” In the end the results are out for people to see, Sachdeva said. “Until we tell the audience, they cannot spot that Amrish Puri is CG-generated.”

While this was the most challenging effect to achieve, there are other VFX-heavy scenes scattered throughout the movie, which demanded effort from the studio. One such sequence is when Tara Singh (played by Sunny Deol) reaches the square in Pakistan where a crowd has gathered to watch his son Charanjeet Singh (played by Utkarsh Sharma) being publicly executed by the movie’s villain.

Gadar 2 VFX shot
Still of an explosion from Gadar 2

“This was a sequence where the father meets his son in Pakistan for the first time,” explained Sachdeva. This scene has a huge crowd and an elaborate fight sequence amidst dust. “It was actually the biggest sequence from where the action actually starts. When we were discussing this scene with the director, we acknowledged some limitations of the shooting.” A major limitation was that the makers could not add too much actual dust on shoot because there are many artists, and the scene could require multiple retakes if any of the artists are not comfortable amidst the dust. So Sachdeva and the director decided to generate dust using VFX. Another hurdle was that as much as the dust is visible in the scene, the actors should be noticeable as well. “The dust should not hide our actors. There wasn’t any other option left but to match the dust in all shots. So we actually lined the shots and one by one matched them to each other. It was a task, but it was a requirement of the film,” stated Sachdeva, who has been in the industry for over a decade now.

In a stunt plus VFX sequence in the film, Deol and Utkarsh Sharma are on a fire brigade which is crossing a bridge, and below the bridge is a railway track. The bad guys in the film hit the fire brigade with a bazooka and Sharma falls off the bridge onto a train running on the track. “While we were filming this, we used a real explosion of fire and water, and later enhanced it using VFX. Then there was another layer where Utkarsh Sharma agreed to jump off the bridge with wires instead of using a stunt double. As soon as he agreed, we shot the layer and it came out beautifully.” Apart from this sequence, there are explosions in other scenes as well. And in some of these places, the makers have used actual explosions which were later enhanced using VFX.

Gadar 2 VFX shot
Still of the fight sequence in dust

“As a VFX designer, I like to shoot as much as possible and use VFX only as a support,” Sachdeva revealed. “At times, that is much more cost effective and looks real. The director and actors were all quite supportive.” Of director Anil Sharma, Sachdeva said, “Mr Sharma is a director of grand vision. He thinks and achieves big. He trusts and tries to understand what we communicate. Even though he is a big director, he listens to your opinion. He appreciates, reverts and understands.”

Sachdeva was brought on board before Gadar 2 began shooting. He believes that films need correct planning, and VFX supervisors can guide shoots on the set. He shared an instance when shooting for a film, “We had unexpected monsoons with a storm. So we had to hold the shoot. But the weather forecast showed it would rain for at least a week or more, and actor dates were not available after that, so we had to continue shooting. As a solution, we covered the whole set with blue and green screens and then shot.”

With VFX, there isn’t any restriction, concluded Sachdeva. “VFX allows the director to think as grand as he can.”

Currently, Sachdeva has two thrillers in the pipeline, and will be starting work on a massive project in February 2024.