Brahmastra, Adipurush, Bhediya: Does high-budgeted VFX guarantee a film’s success?

Hanu-Man, with a budget of 12 crores, caught the attention of netizens for it’s amazing VFX. This led to the trolls comparing it with Adipurush, which has a budget of ₹600 crores.

Recently released film Brahmastra and the teaser of upcoming Adipurush have been facing criticism for their poor VFX and special effects. The trolling further intensified when the low-budget movie Hanu-Man gained attention for its impressive visual effects, triggering a debate among movie buffs whether or not VFX-heavy movies require huge budgets. We spoke to industry experts and stakeholders to find out if spending more on VFX guarantee success at the box office?

Animator and VFX company owner Rajiv Chilaka believes that filmmakers need a clear vision when it comes to spending money on VFX. “The price of VFX will inevitably increase if the director keeps changing the script because he’s unsure of what he wants. With Adipurush, I feel they rushed a bit and being heavy on VFX, they didn’t give proper time to film’s pre-production, which needed to be very strong. When [filmmaker] SS Rajamouli makes a film, he shoots certain sequences for 200 days, hence its budget is high. But when people are trying to achieve similar results, spending the same amount of money but aren’t giving enough time to it, the planning doesn’t go well,” says Chilaka, adding that for Indian market, the production budget shouldn’t go beyond ₹150 crores and that can be only curtailed with proper planning.

In recent times, films such as Runway, RRR, Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, Bhuj: The Pride of India and the latest release Bhediya have had extensive use of VFX. While all these projects were mounted on a huge scale involving whopping budgets, what worked at the box office was word of mouth and content and not how much money was put into creating a visual experience.

Trade expert Atul Mohan feels that usage of VFX has made things easy for the filmmakers and “if money is making things easier, there is no harm in it.” He further adds, “There are so many bodies whose permissions are required before shooting at real locations. For instance, if you want a shot of an animal, you need to take approval from Animal Welfare board, pay the required amount and go through all kinds of hassles. That’s why, filmmakers prefer to use VFX for that scene. So, if investing in VFX is solving their problem, I think it’s a fair deal. As for the budget, the more you invest in it, the better it comes out.”

Abhishek De, a VFX artiste and creative director at Futureworks, adds in agreement and says, “If a filmmaker wants good quality VFX, they need to hire a team of experts who hold the potential to pull off the task well. More the money spent, better will be the VFX.”

Industry insiders also feel that since big-budget films like Baahubali and RRR saw massive commercial success, many makers are of the opinion that spending big on this department can bring them similar results.

De also points that quite often, the budget shown by the filmmakers and the team isn’t real. “Producers and distributers play a game where they show up different figures to hype up the film. It’s all about marketing. So even the films that are not big on scale manage to create a buzz because of the figures. While it can work in their favour sometimes, it can also backfire,” he warns.

On the contrary, producer Ramesh Taurani asserts that one can never plan the budget in advance for large-scale movies. He explains, “It’s not necessary that a film’s budget will always stay the same. Filmmaking is a creative process and sometimes, a lot more or a lot less is invested than what the makers had initially planned. There are so many ifs and buts in filmmaking. Every big film, from Titanic to Marvel movies, were never completed within the budget that was assigned in the beginning. And creative satisfaction is more important than anything else.”