Hitting the screens eight years on, 2.0 is described by some as the spiritual successor to the blockbuster Enthiran (2010). Apt perhaps, given 55-year-old filmmaker Shanmugam Shankar’s religious dedication. It is the most expensive Indian film to date, taking some three-odd years to make, including the tense four-month break Rajinikanth took in 2016 to recover from a bout of illness. But it did not unnerve the box-office baron, for this is their third collaboration after Enthiran and Shivaji. All the 11 films Shankar has directed to date have raked in more than he spent. Will 2.0 deliver too?
2.0 is the first Indian film to be shot entirely in 3D by Lyca Productions, which retained overseas and Tamil Nadu distribution rights for itself. No expense has been spared and no technical aspect compromised on to ensure 2.0 truly measures up to Hollywood standards.
Enthiran’s commercial success inspired the filmmakers to consider making a sequel almost immediately. Initial work had begun by March 2011, with the same technical team as Enthiran’s , even as Shankar went on complete Nanban (2012) and I (2015). While finishing the production of I, Shankar drafted scripts for three other films, including Enthiran’s sequel. With Lyca Productions stepping in with funds, Shankar, Rajinikanth and composer A.R. Rahman, remained on the development team for the sequel.
Shanmugam Shankar with Rajini on the film’s sets
After enlisting T. Muthuraj as art director and V. Srinivas Mohan as the visual effects supervisor, Shankar drafted Nirav Shah as cinematographer in mid-2015 with the express task of visiting specialist studios in the United States to research filming methods for 3D shots. By the time Jeyamohan finished work on the script by September 15 and revealed that the storyline would be a direct continuation of Enthiran, all that remained was to start work as soon as Rajinikanth finished his commitments on Kabali (2016). Meanwhile, the superstar himself travelled to Los Angeles in November 2015 to meet the film’s producers and complete costume trials and initial motion capture effects work.
Computer-generated graphics have gobbled up a third of the film’s budget. Visual effects designer Mohan digitally converted a green screen sequence into locations, including the Red Fort and Parliament House after being refused shooting permission in these locales. After Rajinikanth returned to the sets following the break in October 2016, he was shot alongside British actor Amy Jackson in Chennai for a scene in which he is featured fighting huge birds created using animatronic technology. The danger posed by a deadly winged monster forces Dr Vaseegaran to reassemble his robot Chitti and save the world.
The film, which has about 1,000 visual effects, had several shots delayed while numerous SFX studios completed the computer-generated imagery. Our challenge was to make it on par with the best from Hollywood, says Raju Mahalingam, one of the producers and now also the statewide secretary of the Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM).