Aditya Dhar: With AI, VFX will become more affordable

23 February,2024 06:09 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Mohar Basu

Unfazed by The Immortal Ashwatthama being put on hold due to high cost, director Dhar says advancing AI over time will help him realise his vision for the Vicky-led sci-fi epic

The Immortal Ashwatthama’s first look; (right) Aditya Dhar

When Aditya Dhar announced The Immortal Ashwatthama with Vicky Kaushal in 2020, it instantly became a highly anticipated project, thanks to its ambitious scale. The leading man, who was as excited at the prospect of the sci-fi epic as the director, had blocked out dates and begun physical prep. But after repeated delays over three years, Jio Studios and RSVP Movies put the film on the backburner due to its high cost. Has it dampened Dhar's spirit? "I'll start by saying it's a story I will make some day," smiles the director.

With the part mythological, part sci-fi movie, the filmmaker wanted to offer his vision of Ashwatthama, a prominent character in the Mahabharata. He, however, understands that it could be viewed as a commercially unviable project in the current market. "This film is massive, it needs finesse. I want it to have the kind of quality that no one has ever attempted in India. I don't want to cut corners or compromise. I'm not okay settling for lower quality. Main apne kaam ke saath dhoka nahin kar sakta," states Dhar, who has now moved on to his next, Dhoom Dhaam.

Vicky Kaushal (Pic/Instagram)

The director remains optimistic despite the setback to his passion project. In fact, he explains that the film - which relies heavily on special effects - will only benefit from time and the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). "The VFX game is expensive right now. If the film is made with the vision that I have in mind, we don't have the number of theatres in India for [it to break even]. Even if people go for repeat viewing, the cost won't be recovered. With AI coming in, technology is becoming cheaper. The VFX technology will improve qualitatively and become more affordable for such a film to be facilitated, even on paper. The vision is on par with what the best in the world are doing."

Another aspect that, Dhar hopes, will grow is the theatrical business. "We are the most populous country. China has 86,000 theatres; we have less than 8,000. The gap is steep. For the math of a film like this to work out, this gap needs to be filled."

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