Designer says team working on The Immortal Ashwatthama pre-production for five months to make it path-breaking like Cameron’s sci-fi film
The film’s first look; (right) director Aditya Dhar
When director Aditya Dhar announced The Immortal Ashwatthama with Vicky Kaushal in 2020, it instantly became a film to look forward to. In an anti-climax of sorts, however, the ambitious sci-fi spectacle has yet to go on floors. Recently, it was also reported that Kaushal is no longer a part of the project and the makers are keen to cast Telugu star Allu Arjun in the titular role. Despite the hurdles, the director is far from letting go of his passion project. Production designer Saini S Johray says pre-production on The Immortal Ashwatthama is underway. “We have been prepping for the last five months. I have 35 designers in my team,” he shares.
A still from Avatar
The team—which comprises production designers and art directors—began with creating the film’s world. It’s not an easy job since Dhar’s retelling is a part-
mythological, part-sci-fi tale of Ashwatthama, a prominent character in the Mahabharata. “In a film like this, everything has to be synced in one visual. So, we have to take care of the hair, make-up, costume, special effects, and the art [to ensure it is all cohesive].”
Dhar has been quietly focusing on getting the film’s technical aspects right, considering it relies heavily on VFX. Johray describes working with the director as “a delight”. “He knows exactly what he wants. Even when we are designing a bow or an arrow, he knows what kind of carving it will have, and what material it will be made of. It will be a first-of-its-kind film [in Hindi cinema], how Avatar  was a path-breaker for Hollywood. We have taken a collective decision that we won’t rush into it. There’s plenty of research going into it,” he says. The team plans to roll the magnum opus by the year-end.