ROBOT starring Rajnikant and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is set to sweep people off their feet with its astounding special effects and technical finesse, besides the performance of the lead pair and hundreds of Rajnikant lookalikes. Director Shankar in a freewheeling interview.
Tell us the story of ROBOT. Rajini plays a dual role in ROBOT. One is a scientist Vaseegaran and the other is a Robot called Chitti. The scientist Rajini creates an android man with artificial intelligence - like that of sixth sense in humans - which looks exactly like him and behaves like a human to help mankind. But the robot later acquires more human characters. He, through technical upgrades becomes almost human. It falls in love with Aishwarya Rai and writes romantic poems besides doing many other things. Knowing about the extraordinary intelligence of the Robot, the villains led by Danny Denzongpa try to get control of the Robot. Scientist Rajini then fights to save the Robot falling into the hands of the enemies and destroys the evil forces using the Robot itself.
What is the script of the film like? Since the script was very difficult, I thought up a wild imagination and tried to
"Rajnikanth fights with 100 robots that are similar to him,"
make them come true with the help of my actors and technicians. Though ROBOT was a tough film to make but we finished it before schedule. It's not a normal movie. There are only two or three normal scenes. All others were difficult to execute and it was a tough job for the actors too. When two humans interact, it's very simple but when one human being interacts with a robot, everything is different.
It is said that the film is comparable to any international film. The script is more like an international film. Anyone from anywhere can understand, identify and enjoy the film. I am very much satisfied with the outcome. It's fully original and an Indian science fiction. It's one of the most simple science fiction films anyone has made. (smiles) People in villages will also be able to understand it easily. It's perfect for the Indian audience.
Has the film been inspired by any other film? ROBOT is not a replicate of any other Indian or Hollywood films. It does not even have any scenes copied from any of the other movie including Hollywood films. Yes, my film is like any other Hollywood film that has a reach in a remote village. Hence the planning had to be such and became a must for me to be ten years advanced when it came to narrating the story. And we have done the same with finesse, and it has come out well.
Tell us about the costing of ROBOT? ROBOT stands in the first position with a total budget of Rs1.5 billion. The budget may have reached Rs 2 billion at the time of release. Just imagine, the remuneration of Rajnikanth was Rs.400 million while that of Aishwarya was Rs.60 million. Plus a lot has gone into the special effects. I think that over 40 per cent of our budget was spent for special effects. The climax fight has been shot on a set that cost 50 million. Here Rajnikanth fights with 100 robots that are similar to him.
Tell us about the technique you used for special effects? Stan Winston Studios which handled visual effects for films like ALIENS, TERMINATOR 2 and JURASSIC PARK took care of the animatronics in the film. We have used the kind of animatronics technology earlier seen in Steven Spielberg's JURASSIC PARK trilogy. Industrial Light & Magic that handled the special effects for films like AVATAR, STAR WARS and TITANIC worked on the visual and special effects.
Any problems on that? Technical experts were in the Sun studios for four months and created the graphics and others which our team could not do. Let me tell you that there are 22 scenes in the film that were totally shot with animatronics.