Where dream merchants head
M.L. MELLY MAITREYI
At the Ramoji Film City, "walk in with a script, walk out with a canned film".
IN THE RECORD BOOK: A destination for the filmmaker and the tourist alike. PHOTO: H. SATISH
CALL it an aesthetic marvel, technological wonder or a one-stop destination for film production, the Ramoji Film City (www.ramojifilmcity.com) stands testimony to the visionary genius of the one man who made it all happen.
The vision, when conceptualised initially, may have stunned all by its sheer expanse, mind-boggling variety and futuristic technology. But when it took shape a decade ago, with the best designers, technologists and architects here and abroad, what came up was an ideal destination with every facility a filmmaker could think of.
And that vision stands vindicated as the Ramoji Film City has been declared the world's largest film studio complex by the Guinness World Records (www.guinnessworldrecords.com), the last word in world records.
The inconvenience of moving from place to place for pre- and post-film production work that he had observed as a filmmaker had spurred the Chairman of the Ramoji Group of Companies, Ramoji Rao, into creating a world-class one-stop destination for film production.
The USP of the 2,000-acre film city, 25 km from Hyderabad that became operational in 1996, is: "Walk in with a concept/script, walk out with a canned film." Apart from filmmakers, it has become the favoured destination for TV production units, advertisement filmmakers and music videos.
Find your locale
The expanse of the place with its creation of natural locales fascinates one. There are undulating hills, lush green valleys, a rocky terrain, fountains, well-laid out gardens, breath-taking landscapes all created in the midst of a semi-arid zone. "A filmmaker can choose an outdoor location his script demands right inside the city," says a Film City officer. It is a truly different world out there serene, calm and peaceful.
If a readymade semi-permanent structures take one back into the architectural and artistic splendour of a bygone era, there are also locations that bring to mind a small town or a bustling metropolis or a street straight out of London. You feel you are here, there and everywhere as if going back and forth in a time and space machine.
From railway stations, airport terminals to temples, churches, hospitals, college buildings and hotels, streets recreated with the air of a South Indian town or a North Indian city, typifying its culture and style; name an ambience, it's there. "It makes film shooting much easier without compromising on nativity," he explains.
If one wanted a different look, perspective or elevation, it's done in a jiffy on readymade steel frames by hundreds of skilled workers at hand. Overall, there are close to 6,000 employees manning different units. There is no need for directors to go scouting for outdoor locations as the city has it all hills, valleys, rugged terrain, gardens in Japanese, Swiss, Egyptian, Moghul styles and in tune with different themes. Luxury hotels or budget accommodation, travel and logistic services too are taken care of in the film city.
With entertainment zones and a perfect ambience, the film city has also emerged a must-see destination in the itinerary of tourists and also for honeymooners and corporate events.
Futuristic technology and studios
Once through with shooting, crucial post-production work can commence in the city with its state-of-art studios for audio post-production ("Symphony"), digital post-production ("Mantra"), digital audiocassette duplication facility ("Rhythm"), film lab ("Rainbow") equipped with hi-end and futuristic technology and equipment acquired from Australia and the United States.
"Symphony" is the only audio post-production unit in the country offering a networked environment and dedicated studios for music, dialogues and sound effects, as each is a specialisation in itself. Impressed with Symphony, a foreign filmmaker felt "it's a luxury even by Hollywood standards". "Mantra", with its latest digital film facilities to match the global benchmark, has the capacity to restore the image quality of a film, positive or negative, to its pristine condition.
Other facilities including a props and costumes unit with its own tailors, a set design and a construction unit, "Maya" and over 50 shooting stages or floors of varying sizes to create settings of one's choice.
Quite a few foreign film production units have shot their films at the city. These include "Crocodile II/Death Roll" and "Panic". Between 2003 and 2004, about 170 production units of Telugu, other regional languages and Hindi films including foreign production units, besides a number of music videos and ad films, utilised the facilities of the city. A team from Algeria made a music video here while teams from Holland and Australia shot ad commercials.
"We have endeavoured to create the best facilities in the world," says Ramoji Rao.
The Indian film industry is hailed as the biggest film industry in terms of the number of films made. It has now the world's largest integrated film studio complex. It is now up to Indian filmmakers to utilise the facilities and make world-class movies.
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