Visual Effects is a buzzword today for every other Bollywood movie and now the mythological TV serials, short films and even webseries have joined the bandwagon! But let’s slip back few years ago. If you watch those old shows today munching popcorn you might laugh it out loud on the amateurish quality or feel happy, proud and surprised that Indian TV shows had VFX even in those times!
Kids whirled and swirled uttering the word Shaktiman happily during the 90s, when it was the desi superhero etched in the memory of every kid.
Dinkar Jani’s Shaktimaan introduced the Indian audience to one its first VFX spectacle on the TV screens. With our superhero storming through the high-rise buildings, unleashing metal-piercing laser beam through the eyes, spinning faster than a thunderstorm, fighting the extra-terrestrial beasts and supernatural humans and a whole lot of other theatrics, it was VFX galore mano-a-mano.
Debuted in 1998, the show struck a chord with its viewers and ran for as long as 520 episodes in its seven year long excursion in the television circuit. Some of this credit has to go to the special effects, no matter how outdated and outmoded they now seem. The viewers were thrilled to witness something of a never-seen-before phenomenon on the screen, at least from the Indian industry.
And if nostalgia has already crept in, let me appraise you that Shaktimaan is getting a reboot and the lead Mukesh Khanna has promised “advanced graphics and VFX”!
Barely 24 hours after Shaktimaan’s maiden episode on Doordarshan, another VFX-heavy programme dabbled on titled Captain Vyom, a sci-fi television series set in a futuristic 2123 where humans have conquered the solar system and successfully set up space stations on outer planets.
The synopsis of the plot itself springs unreal visuals in our heads, imagine the scale at which this project was executed back in the times when even mobile phones and internet were new to us. Maya Entertainment was the creator of the visuals, and the makers were reported to expend three times as much for its production as any conventional show, due the VFX.
The show may have gone off air just a year later, but the outer space sequences, alienic creatures, radiation beams, the futuristic settings of the show, all piqued our imagination.
As the concept of VFX continued to gather steam in India, in came Karma, another superhero-based television drama that served up some visual delights for its young audience in its presentations.
Balaji Telefilms launched the show to apparently build on the success of Koi Mil Gaya just a few months earlier, but couldn’t resonate with its viewers as much. A shallow story and inadvertently comical villains were some of the reasons for its undoing, but the kids seemed fascinated some of the VFX-heavy scenes; especially the ones where the universe would collude, sparking thunders all across, and conjure the titular character his superhero costume.
Though not a flat-out superhero drama, the plot chronicled Hatim, son of the emperor of Yemen, and his quest to spread peace and goodwill whilst fight off the skulduggery by lord Dajjal and Najumi.
The Sagar Films production was set in the medieval age and trying to portray a similar setting would not only call set extensions, but also certain computerised effects to bring out the realism.
The cinematography as well as the VFX garnered critical acclaim and the show became one of the most watched programmes during its original run. Some of the highlights of the show were the mythical sword that Hatim carried, the kingdom of Paristan, the dark, dystopian den of emperor Jaffar and the good vs the evil confrontation in the climax.