Let’s face it. The last Hindi film to tastefully use VFX to make the experience more immersive, was arguably Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2014). Or perhaps Aditya Dhar’s Uri, that seamlessly fused practical effects with VFX. But 2019 could easily be declared the year when the green screen was confused for a screenplay in Bollywood.
Like in 2018, in a bid to replicate the Baahubali phenomenon, many Hindi film directors gave ‘dreaming big’ a shot. More often than not, they failed. At not just seducing the audience into theatres, but also at making the VFX look tasteful and not comical.
Here are 10 Hindi films that used the green-screen to cover up its plot holes and… failed.
1. The Accidental PM
Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s propaganda gift-wrapped as a film could have still been a watchable film had the director not gone on an overdrive with the use of green screen. In trying to recreate the insides of the PMO, the film failed so hard, it could be used in awareness campaigns on what not to do with VFX.
You’ve got to admire Kangana Ranaut for trying to take on Prabhas’ larger-than-life persona from the Baahubali films. But watching Rani Laxmibai, a real life icon, walk through showering arrows unscathed, and splicing an angrez soldier’s head into two with her sword easier than one can play Fruit Ninja, requires more suspension of belief than the average human possesses. Catering to the lust of the outsider’s blood, Manikarnika would be more watchable if it saw Laxmibai more as a heroic human, instead of the steel-skinned superhero it wants to portray.
3. Total Dhamaal
With greater budgets, comes more terrible VFX… in a Bollywood film. The first Dhamaal film (rather enjoyable) made at a fraction of this one’s budget, was silly, and yet not offensive to the senses. Twelve years, five new stars plus Sanjay Mishra and 115 crores later, Inder Kumar thinks it is enough if he recycles the same plot again and sets in a zoo with animals created with the help of VFX. While James Cameron is inventing species on Pandora, Inder Kumar is making gorillas fart.
Anurag Singh’s ode to one of the most famous ‘last stands’ in military history, was more saffron than we would have imagined. And along with the casual Islamophobia, for some reason the film tried to glorify the Sikh regiment with the help of a giant green screen. In a bid to recreate Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, no landscape has appeared more fake than the one in Kesari, inviting cynicism towards the other facets of the story.
Abhishek Varman’s film wasn’t entirely tasteless in its use of VFX, but the sheer liberties taken for the purpose of the fantastical setting of Husnabad eventually began to crack. Along with that, it didn’t help that Varman tried to CGI a bull into the milieu, in the same year that Lijo Jose Pellisery released Jallikattu. Two points for trying, but that’s it.
Prabhas-starrer, Saaho, was supposed to be the actor’s blockbuster follow-up to Baahubali. But as we saw with Saaho, just dreaming EXTRAAAA can’t simply guarantee that the rest of the director’s vision isn’t sacrificed at the altar of logic. It’s one of the most painfully derivative films, that makes its leading man jump from a (green-screen) cliff… only cos they could afford it.
7. Housefull 4
You know to what extent Baahubali has rubbed off on mainstream Bollywood, when a puerile franchise like Housefull tries to ape its period template. Of course, they make homophobic jokes even in the 15th century. The novelty of designing this period setting is equal to the effort spent towards writing the women in this film.
There’s good reason why Tarun Mansukhani’s Drive came straight to Netflix. Even Karan Johar knew how bankrupt Mansukhani’s vision for the film was – a quarter portion Fast n Furious, a half portion Italian Job and another quarter Qayamat: City Under Threat (shame on you, if you don’t know the last one!). Such bad VFX went into recreating Rashtrapati Bhavan that at some point, even Vivek Oberoi begins to resemble PM Modi.
Anees Bazmee’s string of nonsensical multistarrers continue, and in this one… three lions come to life in the film’s climax. If one had to overcome the trauma of watching John Abraham’s nationalistic sermons, it was only possible through his fervent attempts at comedy, and three CGI lions appearing out of nowhere.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat doesn’t veer too far from the status quo of his contemporary releases, with the generous aerials shots of battles taking place on the (usually) golden battle field. There was generous amounts of saffron too, that further propelled the Hindu vs outsider narrative. The fact that the director of Jodhaa Akbar needs to be reminded about good taste while using VFX in epic battles, tells us how bad 2019 has been.