Many are keen to work with superstar Rajnikanth at least once in their career span, but leading fashion designer Neeta Lulla has had the opportunity thrice; her most recent is her stepping in as costume designer for magnum opus Kochadaiyaan -- India’s first Photorealistic Performance Capture Film.
“Working on this project is definitely a milestone in my career. The project is larger-than-life -- because of Rajni sir, and the technology that was used. Its visual grandiosity makes the scale of this project one of the biggest I have worked on,” admits Lulla, who created costumes for the entire cast of the film.
Broadly, in a photorealistic performance capture film, actions of human actors are recorded and that information is used to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation.
Technology and design
To create the costumes, Lulla created the characters on a sketch format -- first in colour, and then, a croquis (quick and sketchy drawing of a live model) developed by the CG technicians. Detailed research was also conducted to achieve the right ornate look for the fine-looking jewellery, its use on the sketch and eventually on the form. Taking into account the script and the accurate look for the characters, the detailing was embellished which took almost 6-8 months of sketching and re-sketching in order to derive the final result. Roughly 150 costumes per character were designed on paper, of which 20-25 costumes for each character were selected and detailed. Due to the intricacy of the designs for the costumes, each embroidery pattern was photographed and expertly placed on the garment, to deliver a flawless finish.
Not an easy ride
While giving us a peek into how the entire process unfolded, the designer mentioned that since everything was on paper and not in fabric form, proper coordination with the technicians was paramount and actually turned out to be quite a challenge. Before, the actual work began, Lulla attended a workshop with two sets of technicians, one from Chennai and a second from China, where they were explained and shown how the fabric should fall, how the embroidery should appear and how the focus should be on certain sections in the final output. “Making them understand the texture projection and jewellery visualisation was a challenge,” remembers Lulla.
Work with the legend
Lulla was all praise, as far as working with the icon was concerned. “Rajni sir is a fantastic person. I have worked with him earlier for Sivaji and Rana, a yet-to-be-completed film. It’s been a great experience each time. He is one of the most humble and professional people I know. I was given full creative freedom, which is what everyone seeks,” recalls Lulla.