The original makers, producer Sajid Nadiadwala and director David Dhawan, are back after 20 years with the sequel of their cult classic Judwaa. The re-boot (Judwaa 2) is set in the same fictional universe and follows two twins who get separated at birth but are connected by a set of “mental reflexes”.
It took a lot of planning and research to film the 'double-action' scenes, where Varun had to enact the roles of both Prem and Raja in the same frame, and more so when the two characters required to physically interact with each other.
To make the audience believe that they are actually seeing double on screen, the makers had to film each scene with the actor twice. Mahesh Baria, film’s overall visual effects supervisor says it's been a lot of fun to pull it off.
“Due to technological constraints, you’d notice that in the original Judwaa there weren’t many shots of Prem and Raja actually touching each other. Also back then, the cameras used to be pretty-much static and wide-angled and since the visual effects in Bollywood practically didn’t exist, the double effect was realised with the help of camera trickery and optical effects,” adds Mahesh. “In Judwaa 2 on the other hand, you’d see Prem and Raja hugging each other and one opening the door for the other. With newer technology and motion control cameras, it’s now possible to duplicate the same moment any number of times. The angle and position are all locked in a computer, so a situation can be recreated identically, multiple times, for an actor to perform different shots for his respective character in a double role. The same technique was used in the shot where Prem and Raja come face-to-face with each other for the first time.”
For Judwaa 2, Prime Focus ensured that complex effects were heavily planned with concept art, storyboards and previsualisation before any filming began.
Simple split-screen technique was employed for sequences where both characters were required to be in the same frame. A stand-in with similar build and appearance to Varun was roped in. The way the makers shot it was that the stand-in enacted Prem’s character and Varun enacted Raja’s character and they shot all their coverage, as if they were shooting two people or real twins. And then they switched Varun over to Prem and did the whole scene over. The scenes were then layered on top of one another in post-production. In the frames where the two characters needed to physically interact with each other, the stand-in’s face was removed and comped-in with Varun’s face through a technique known as CG face replacement.
“It was essential for us to involve David Dhawan right from the beginning. Using motion control, we were able to accurately replicate camera movements over and over again. With the help of our high-end processing devices, we could process the composite shots quickly enough to be checked, at least in rough form while on-set and only after it was approved by the director would we move on to the next shot,” adds Mahesh. “To be able to visualise the rough composite on set meant that the precise positioning and movements of actors could be refined on the fly and small discrepancies could be digitally augmented later.”
Similarly, careful rehearsing, audio playback serving as cue for Varun’s dialogue delivery, tennis ball mounted on a metal poleserving as reference point for eyeline match helped Varun get his movements precise enough to match up to another perfomance composited in.
But the effects wizardry alone wasn’t sufficient to pull off the double-role scenes effectively.
"For all the camera trickery and the effects that you put into it, if you can retain the performance and the heart of the scene and the emotion that's really what the audience gets invested in," Mahesh adds. “And Varun’snatural performance is what really makes the twins believable. The fact that you can watch those scenes and you really believe you're looking at two distinct characters is a testament to his ability."
Meanwhile, Prime Focus’ color grading work and finishing services were in fact central to bring the entire film together. Under the supervision of DoP Ayananka Bose V.S, Prime Focus Colorist Ashirwad Hadkar incorporated the visual effects into the reels and set the look for the film. As the look developed, the VFX team ensured that the shots were delivered within the color space of the original camera footage and were robust enough in terms of color behavior and dynamic range to be graded to the same extent as any normal footage.
“We are grateful to David Dhawan and Sajid for placing their trust in Prime Focus and their consistent support and guidance,” said Niraj Sanghai, Business Head – Prime Focus Limited. “Our positive relationship enabled us to add so much more value at every step towards creating content with such high visual appeal.