Watching Krrish when it was released in June 2006, I decided that I had to interview someone who worked on the film. I contacted Marc Kolbe who, with Craig Mumma, provided the effects for both Krrish and Koi... Mil Gaya and he very kindly agreed to answer some question by e-mail.
“We were working on Devdas at the time and Rakesh Roshan had just watched Independence Day and saw our names and had heard we were working in India. So we had a meeting with him and hit it off. We were very excited about the project and we were looking for projects that would allow us to push the Indian talent to the limits. And this was the perfect fit.”
How familiar were you with Bollywood cinema before you started working on Indian films?
“Not very familiar. But we learned very quickly. And are still learning. But then, we are still learning in Hollywood...”
What are the biggest differences, as a visual effects artist, between working in Hollywood and working in Bollywood?
“The biggest difference is the culture. And I use the term ‘culture’ because I haven't really found the perfect word that explains it. Oh sure, the technology is the same, the talent is working its way up the ladder to the same quality levels, that just takes time, it’s the look and feel that is different. But this is why we shouldn't make Bollywood films feel like Hollywood films. They should stand on their own. Now as for quality, yes, they are in the process of coming to International levels.
“As for the artists, all they want to do is learn. And that only takes time. With each project, they get better and better. They have a huge desire to succeed in this industry. Which I really like.”
How closely was Rakesh Roshan involved with the effects on Koi... Mil Gaya and Krrish?
“Very involved. As I implied above, he was our guide to his market. We brought the experience and quality to get his vision up on the screen. But he brought us into his world. There were many times that we would argue about a particular shot and the look and feel of it. Craig and I would make sure the quality was there and he made sure it was the vision. When all was said and done it worked very well.”
What new challenges did Krrish present over and above what you had done on the first film?
“Every film has its own set of challenges. The biggest one was learning to work with basically two directors at the same time. I had Rakesh and then I had Tony Ching directing the action stunts. Two completely different people. But I learned so much from the both of them, it was an exciting project. Working with Tony was more like choreographing a dance number. He worked with Hrithik during the stunts and then would play with camera speeds to get the flow of the stunt. Great experience. Working with Rakesh is always fun, we have a great time and have a great admiration for each other’s expertise. I enjoy learning new areas, I always say there are no experts in this industry, only ones that have made more mistakes. And obviously, the key is to learn from them...”
How has Bollywood’s understanding of effects and effects technology developed in the time that you've been working on Indian films?
“By leaps and bounds. With every project we do, the level of professionalism gets better and better. That goes for the production side as well. I feel we have finally convinced the producers and directors that if they want to do this level of VFX and have it be a key element in their film, they need to think and plan for it way in advance. This was a big issue when we started in India. Once, VFX was an afterthought; now films are built around them.”
interview originally posted 6th July 2006