New Delhi: When 'Life of Pi' hogged the limelight at the Oscars, India too made its presence felt and got a slice of credit.

The film based on adventure novel about an Indian boy, who survives a shipwreck but is stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, has many Indian connections, other than Indian cast and Indian music vocalist who wrote Tamil song for the movie, plus the fact that it was partly filmed in South India.

But what we do not know is the fact that there was another Indian hand which contributed towards making ‘Life of Pi’ a mammoth success. 

Mandeep Singh, who works in Rhythm & Hues as a Production Manager with his current deputation in Malaysia was one of the many involved in delivering work in visual effects for ‘Life of Pi’, including Richard Parker, the tiger. The movie also took home Oscars for Visual Effects.

Interestingly, the talented man from India, who has also contributed for Snow White and Hunts Man, tasted Oscars’ glory for the second time. His first Oscar contribution was when he worked on Golden Compass as a Production Co-ordinator for his Mumbai Team of Rhythm & Hues.

As we interviewed the talented man, Mandeep shared his experience and contributions to the Oscar-winning film.

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

How did you get to work with the team of Life of Pi?

Ang Lee sought help from Rhythm & Hues, to make his vision come to life and together( Ang Lee and R&H) were successfully able to bring words come alive.
Ang Lee and Fox 2000 Movies entrusted Rhythm & Hues to be the lead visual effects house in making this mystical journey a great extravaganza.

The company executed over 75 percent of the visual effects shots on the movie. This mammoth task was undertaken by the studio artists in Los Angeles, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kuala Lumpur and Vancouver. It was truly a global effort and almost 40 per cent of the visual effects work on the movie was done in the studios in Asia.

How did you find the whole experience? What were the challenges before your team during the making of the movie?

It is needless to say, working on Life of Pi was a great learning experience for everyone at Rhythm & Hues. It was a proud moment for all the artists to be involved in this Academy award winning film, which has such deep rooted ties to India and Taiwan.  

The three hundred odd artists in Asia were involved in various stages of visual effects that included Stereo quality control, modeling, pre-lighting, texturing, match moving, background preparation, animation, cloth and fur simulation, water simulation, lighting and the final compositing.

Life of Pi presented great visual effects challenges including creating digital oceans, fantastic virtual environments, and realizing incredible lead characters like Richard Parker, the magnificent digital tiger, all in stereo 3D.  

The team worked on around 450 shots of visual effects out of the total of 690.

How long did it take you to complete the project of Life of Pi?

From the day we started to work on test shots and to the day of delivery, it took us around one year to finish the show.

The team researched and worked rigorously to grasp the exact movements of the tiger, the way it walked, it looked.

Further complementing this theme, almost half of the revolutionary visual effects work on the movie was done out of the Rhythm & Hues studios in Asia representing the truly global nature of the film’s production.

Tell me about your role in the movie.    

Being the production manager, my responsibility was to take care of production management, resource allocation, personnel management and scheduling and budgeting of the shows. I was the Manager for the crew that gave LIFE to digital oceans, fantastic virtual environments, and realizing incredible lead characters like Richard Parker, the magnificent digital tiger.

What are the other Hollywood projects you are working on?

Presently, I am working on ‘The Seventh Son’, RIPD, Percy Jackson : Sea of Monsters and Grown Up 2.

Did you receive any offers from Bollywood?

We have always been contacted by Bollywood and would love to do more work for them. Previously, we had done some Indian commercials like Alpenliebe Candies with Kajol and Crocodile.

An Oscar tag means a lot for any movie professional, you have been lucky twice in that case. How did it help your growth in professional life?

This Profession/job is not just bread winner for me. This is my life. And awards like Bafta or Oscars  do contribute in  our work and effort being appreciated but is not just the only motivation. This year was good for us as both our movies Snow White and Hunts Man and Life of Pi were nominated. All these achievements make us more passionate which in turn drives us to do more awesome work. Golden Compass was the first Oscar and Life of Pi set a new benchmark.

* Rhythm & Hues is a film production studio specializing in high end computer animation and visual effects for Hollywood feature films and Ad Commercials.

(Shivani Vig/JPN)

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