‘Do Paise Ki Dhoop Chaar Aane Ki Barish’ (‘Two pennies for sunshine and four cents for rain’), the directorial debut of the famous Indian actress-turned-filmmaker Deepti Naval, premiered at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival this year to a very warm reception. The film, which was also written and produced by Naval on a very tight budget, is, on the surface, the story of a struggling gay lyricist, an ageing prostitute and her physically challenged 12 year old son. But “it isn’t simply a film about gays and prostitutes. It is more essentially about the ebbs and tides of human relationships,” said Naval in an interview. “The idea was to present a modern, sensitive and realistic portrait of people struggling to find happiness.”
Come rain or shine
To help her reflect this aim in the fabric of the film, Naval turned to Kiiran Deohans, one of India’s finest cinematographers – fresh from directing the photography on the highly successful mainstream Indian movie ‘Jodha Akbar’. The script called for much
of the action of the film to take place in the rain, and since the budget did not stretch to artificial rain, it was decided to shoot in Mumbai during July and August right at the height of the monsoon season. "Shooting a night sequence in a real monsoon was one of the riskier moments of my career," remembers Deohans.
"The finer controls on Pablo really helped" Kiiran Deohans, Director of Photography
Getting the look
The offline edit was completed by Umesh Gupta on FCP, and the job was then transferred to leading Mumbai DI house, FutureWorks, which scanned the Selects at 2K (2048 x 1556) on its Spirit 4K datacine into the company’s Quantel Genetic Engineering setup, which includes a Pablo non-linear color correction system and Max assist station, sharing media via a GenePool. While the script didn’t call for intensive effects work, this was more than compensated for in post production terms by very demanding color correction requirements. "We shot the film on Fuji 35mm negative – the first time I have used it," Deohans recalls. "We had to make many compromises during shooting such as unbalanced color temperature between lights, and a number of shots also had to be deliberately under-exposed. This was the first time I had used Fuji for a feature, so I was worried about the result in a mixed lighting situation, but Fuji as well as the finer controls on the Pablo really helped – it was certainly a more creative process."
FutureWorks put every aspect of its Genetic Engineering set-up to work on the project. "We did the conforms on the Max assist station and were able to start the color correction on Pablo in parallel thanks to the Genetic Engineering shared workflow," says
FutureWorks Head of DI, Rahul Purav, who carried out all the creative work on the Pablo. "Max is a tremendously powerful partner to the Pablo, handling all conform, ingest and export of data to VFX and final film out, aligning edits and organising incoming VFX
shots on various layers. We were also able to check the VFX shots before they were incorporated into the edit on the Pablo using its powerful compositing controls. And we were able to make required editorial changes on Max after the first round of color correction. It all means that we could keep our Pablo master grading suite free to work on other projects while non-creative work for ‘Do Paise Ki Dhoop’ continued at full speed on the Max,” Purav adds.
Thanks to Pablo’s built in DI and effects toolset, FutureWorks were also able to carry out the majority of VFX shots within the
system rather than taking the time hit inherent in exporting them to external workstations. “We had eight shots to clean
up and we did them all on the Pablo, and we also put pictures onto TV screens in the Pablo, which gave us interactive control over
the look and how each would fit in with the finished product – a more creative way of working,” Purav reflects.
"Much of the Pablo work was done with Kiiran Deohans in attendance, with only occasional visits from the Director. For
instance we had to generate wipes and it was a cakewalk for us on the edit timeline – with just a click we were able to show variations to the Director with color graded images, and play the result back immediately," says Purav.
“As to the color correction process itself, Pablo was brilliant in allowing me to get the right tones, density and color balance.
Multiple cascades and rotoscoping also helped to get a lot of things organised."
Man and machine in harmony
"We did the entire primary grade in Pablo using printerlights, and then went into secondary for correcting and fine tuning work," Purav continues. "The advantage of doing a printerlights primary grade is that since the scans were done with density alignments,
this not only helped me get a consistent, sustained look, but also helped in balancing the scenes quickly, giving me more time to fine-tune the shots later on. Being able to see all this happening as we went along meant that the DoP could easily relate to the changes and see his ideas put into practice before his eyes. This way of working helped me a lot, meaning that I could go back and do the refinements later on and add layers, carry out keying, masking and rotoscoping on major sections of the film. It also gave me 360 degrees of flexibility to change tones and create variations on the film – sort of retaining an analogue feel while working in the digital domain. We all received a very welcome compliment from the lab grading supervisor at the preview, when he said ‘this is the closest one can get to original negative print". The final words go to Kiiran Deohans. "What I saw in the DI projection room as we were working on the film is exactly what I got on the final print. I have to thank Gaurav Gupta (FutureWorks MD) and the colorist Rahul Purav, because ‘Do Paise Ki Dhoop' is not an easy film to work on. They have done a great job."
At a glance
• Leading DoP Kiiran Deohans turned to FutureWorks for the DI on 'Do Paise Ki Dhoop'
• Budget limitations required the film to be shot during actual monsoon rather than artificial rain
• As a result, color balance and mood were a major challenge in post production
• FutureWorks’ Quantel Genetic Engineering system with Max and Pablo rose to the challenge in the hands of artist Rahul Purav
• The film premiered at Cannes 2009 to a warm reception
• "What I saw in the projection room is exactly what I got on the final
print," says Deohans