‘Scam 1992’ bags the Best VFX award at Filmfare OTT; Identical Brains reveals what went into the making of it

Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, the series based on the real-life incident of the Indian stockbroker who created a stir in the 90s recently grabbed Filmfare OTT Awards 2021 for Best VFX. Mumbai-based VFX studio Identical Brains shared about their laborious efforts that ultimately helped them in bringing home the black lady. They amazingly recreated erstwhile Mumbai for the period drama.

The SonyLiv show where Pratik Gandhi stepped into the shoes of the flamboyant big bull of the Dalal Street focused on Mehta’s life story, his rise and the subsequent downfall. The show that garnered immense viewership on the platform has been directed by Hansal Mehta.

“Firstly, the feeling is quite amazing, as the victory was quite unexpected. The Scam had come to us as a pleasant surprise. None of us thought that it would win an award, especially in VFX. There were quite a lot of challenges because of the work from home condition as the uploads, downloads, logistics, etc., were quite an issue. What helped with breathing life into our project was the supportive team, be it Hansal sir or the Sony team. We were on call with them continuously, discussing everything with complete transparency,” Identical Brains founder Raghav Rai told Animation Xpress.

“In total, 35-40 artists were involved in putting up the show. It was because various new shots and changes were surfacing every now and then. We still cannot believe how we pulled it off in the required time,” he said.

The VFX studio, being involved in the project right from the beginning, found it easier to deliver as they could be a part of every process including storytelling, set designs, artwork and direction, etc. They delivered about 800+ shots in three months and their difficulties increased due to the genre of the show. 

Talking about the challenges faced while working on the web series, Rai said, “The requirements of the project weren’t mammoth, however it became a task only because people were scattered all over India due to the lockdown. But we somehow adapted to the new way of working from home and managed the show efficiently. After all, adaptation is the key to success.The series being a period drama based on India’s biggest scam also brought some challenges. We had to shoot the entire thing on a green screen. Owing to the lockdown, knowing the exact locations and angles and working on them remotely was the trickiest part we had to work on.”

Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story released during the pandemic. The show that kept viewers glued to the screens was an outcome of intricate visual effects, made possible from remote locations.  

“A lot of discussions happened between the director, art director, set designer, etc. You must have seen in the show the iconic old building of BSE from the 90s. Other prominent locations were also shown like Marine Drive and Dalal Street. So there were quite a few locations shown in the show to portray the era through visual effects,” Rai revealed.

The artists had made use of all the latest software including Nuke for compositing, Autodesk for 3D, Roto and so on.  

He mentioned that they did not use virtual production. According to him, virtual production is a far reality in the Indian entertainment industry.

Asked about the contribution of OTT platforms in bringing about a change in the visual effects industry, the studio head said, “OTT, indeed, has brought in a phenomenal change in terms of viewing. It has made the entertainment industry undergo a dynamic shift. It has helped the smaller production houses to produce a lot of new content and bring fresher stories to the audience. It has given the VFX companies a major platform, as it truly helps producers to breathe life into the most complex of stories. OTT is a boon for creators of all kinds. If you have the right talent, and the right motivation, then there is most definitely a platform out for you.”

The studio has been working on various projects for SonyLIV after collaborating with them on Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story.

“Well, Sony is a family now. They have acted as mentors to us. Starting with the Scam, we now have Simple Murder, Kathmandu Connection, 9191, Tabbar, etc. I have known the Sony family for a long time now. We have mutual trust and that’s how the process gets smoother each time,” he said.

Rai expressed joy for the upcoming projects that Identical Brains has grabbed and they are looking forward to ushering in the New Year.

“We are under strict NDA norms hence nothing more can be revealed,” he signed off.