Revealed: How prosthetics and VFX brought young Shah Rukh Khan to life in ‘FAN’

Since the news of Shah Rukh Khan’s new venture FAN was announced, a lot of buzz has been swirling around the creation of the young man Gaurav Khanna who’s 20 something and is been played by Shah Rukh Khan himself. And fans got to witness the magic of Shah Rukh Khan as Aryan Khanna and Gaurav Chandna, as FAN hit the screens on 15 April. In the first three days of it’s release, FAN earned Rs 523.5 million in India. The box collection saw a steady decline as on Friday it earned Rs 192 million, Saturday Rs 154 million and on Sunday Rs 177.5 million. Though the movie went on to receive mixed reviews from the viewers for its storyline, however one thing everyone praised about was the look of Gaurav Chandna. Yash Raj Films released a 15 minute video that showcases how the director Maneesh Sharma with the help of prosthetics and VFX achieved this transformation. Shah Rukh Khan was able to don this avatar by going through rigorous makeup sessions, done by the Hollywood makeup genius Greg Cannom with commendable VFX work done by redchillies.VFX team who took his look to an altogether new level. FAN before after The entire film is based on two characters played by one actor (Shah Rukh Khan) and out of those two characters, one is half the age of SRK’s current age. It’s quite often to see actors portray the role of an elderly person or a degenerated being but hardly it happens that the actor has to depict a person half his age. And to showcase this young man, the combination of prosthetics and make-up created by Cannom, an Oscar winner for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and VFX by redchillies.VFX was used which is probably the first time in the world that technology had been used in a film to bring the young man alive, according to Maneesh Sharma. Gaurav’s face had to look similar to, and yet different from, Aryan Khanna’s. Sharma recounts that even the biggest VFX artists from abroad felt it couldn’t be achieved. But VFX producer Keitan Yadav felt that a mix of prosthetics and computer generated effects could achieve the look. And to accomplish that, the noted make up artist Greg Cannom decided to take up the challenge. But the road ahead wasn’t that easy as SRK had to work in the young make up for at least 70 days. Imagine sitting through four to five hours, every day, to get the thick layer prosthetics on in Indian weather and then not able to even scratch your face till the end of shoot! That was the struggle SRK had to face for those 70 days. For the prosthetics, Cannom and his team used to tape up SRK’s face, attached fillers to his eyebrows, inserted plumpers in his mouth and applied layers of make up over it all. The team also had to ensure that despite the cheek fillers, SRK’s iconic dimples were partially visible. FAN SRk What was tricky in this whole process was to accomplish the young look as just prosthetics weren’t enough to make a 50 year old look like a 20 year old. The reason being, “Younger faces tend to be well toned and there’s a layer of fat in it,” Yadav explained. “The challenge was to re bring that toned face back.” Finally Cannom started to work on several moulds in his workshop as Sharma wanted Gaurav to have chubbier cheeks. “I looked around my studio and I have the heads (moulds) of all these different actors and I saw Brad’s. Brad Pitt is very good looking but he has a very unusual cheek and jaw structure. So I gave him (Gaurav) Brad’s cheeks,” said Cannom. Post the scenes were shot, redchillies.VFX team came into picture and their daunting task began as they made Gaurav’s nose smaller than Aryan’s, straightened out his eyebrows, made the eyes bigger, reput the expressions, changed the lips, made his build slighter by narrowing the shoulders, straightening them, bringing in the chest, removing the muscle on the neck. The body and face grows as the person ages. “So if you see Aryan’s face it’s quite bigger now compared to Gaurav. We had to shrink his face to make him look younger. Because as we are shrinking his body in every scene, so we had to kind of scan his full body,” added redchillies.VFX,  visual effects supervisor, Harry Hingorani. Several full body scans had to be carried out on SRK while he tried on all of Gaurav’s costumes, so the scale could be derived correctly.   FAN SRK RCVFXThe idea of making Gaurav’s nose smaller meant no room for prosthetics as prosthetics could only be used to add something and reduce. And so, “The most difficult part in the entire Gaurav set up was to get the nose right. If you see both them together, you can see exactly his nose is different,” Keitan exclaimed. In an earlier interaction with AnimationXpress, Keitan had said that over 500-600 artists were working on this film for more than a year. And undoubtedly, the hardwork has paid off as the team managed to trick even the mother of one of the VFX team members, who saw the first look and told them, “You’ve done good work, and you’ve got a great duplicate (for SRK) too!” With such immense VFX work being carried out in India, we can observe a change in the Indian cinema as directors are finally starting to trust the Indian VFX studios and give them projects that were once possible only at foreign VFX studios. Kudos to the entire rechillies.VFX team for pulling off such an extensive work and good luck for the future endeavors!