The second edition of the VFX and More (VAM) Summit organised by Animation Xpress India, witnessed an interesting discussion on the Making of Minnal Murali. The speakers included Mindstein Studios co-founder and Minnal Murali VFX supervisor and producer Andrew Dcrus, film director Basil Joseph, co-writers Justin Mathew and Arun Anirudhan. The session was moderated by INDIA TODAY former editor Kaveree Bamzai.
The session started off with Bamzai highlighting how Minnal Murali, the new Indian superhero in town, was very ground to earth, dressed in normal attire, and travels in buses and auto. Sharing the thought behind creating a simple casual superhero, Dcrus shared, “People always want superheroes to be grounded as it makes them relate with it. The more locally related and Indianess gives the personal connection to the people. The simplicity and grounded nature of the superhero create a bond with the audience. Basil’s treatment of the movie makes it stand out. We created the movie sequence with practical effects to balance the reality in the film.”
Speaking about the idea behind implementing practical VFX in the super-hero movie, Joseph added, “From the beginning, we planned to do every sequence with practical effects, even though we are telling a superhero story we wanted to make it as grounded as possible. The audience can’t get detached from the story because of the poor VFX or action. People’s expectations are high when it comes to superhero movies, VFX should be technically perfect for this genre.”
He further added, “With a budget provided in the Malayalam industry trying a super-hero genre was a very risky attempt. The superhero genre was the biggest commercial genre in the world. We had good support from the producer, with the help of Andrew Dcrus we made this possible. It took about one and half years to complete pre-production for the movie.”
The makers also shared how they spent their budget on VFX, and how they made the scenes as grand as possible with practical effects. They also lauded the contribution of Tovino Thomas – the lead role in the film – as he made things possible without using VFX.
It was very interesting to hear how the writers evolved with a superhero idea. Anirudhan shared, “Four years ago I saw one meme, where Batman was wearing a lungi. From that, I got an idea that why can’t we place that local superhero in Kerala. Then I pitched this idea to Basil and we started to write the screenplay. We have written 40 plus drafts for this particular project.”
The major challenge while writing the story is to create a plot for the antagonist – Shibu. He mentioned, “The major problem while writing this film was to crack the antagonist. We spent seven months to create Shibu’s character. We wanted the antagonist to be very much related to our background. We had played with drama and emotion in the film. Superhero always has to destroy the evil, so we made the plot emotional.”
Shedding light on how the practical VFX was done in the film set of Minnak Murali Dcrus mentioned, “When we take a look at the scene where Tovino is throwing rings on those prizes, I was present on set with Basil to get the set data and properties ready to make sure the shot has the original touch. Those scenes were fixed in my mind as VFX shots, but Tovino did the scene without the need for VFX in just two takes.”
Dcrus lauded the stunt choreographer and action directors who really worked on pre-visualisation which gave a lot of input to both protagonist and antagonist. Joseph also shared how they used motors and electromagnets to move the objects which was a great experience for them.
Streaming on Netflix, this Indian superhero film Minnal Murali though created with simple practical effects, had a lot of science and creativity involved.