Sabu Cyril has become the hottest production designer in Indian cinema.
Superstar Rajinikanth and King Khan are all praise for his work for their sci-fi films Endhiran (The Robot) and Ra.One. Sabu, who is doing four Bollywood biggies (Ra.One, Aakrosh, Tees Maar Khan and Bullet Train) at the moment, speaks exclusively to TOI on his dream project Endhiran…
Tell us about how Endhiran evolved…
Shankar first approached me 10 years ago to make â€˜Robotâ€™ with Kamal Haasan in the lead. Shankar came with a bound script then but it did not work out due to budget constraints and was put on the backburner. Three years ago, he came back and told me that he was reviving the film with Rajinikanth as hero. He had made suitable changes in the script, keeping Rajini sirâ€™s image in mind and got a producer like Kalanidhi Maran, who could spend big money on it.
You seem to have a liking for sci-fi movies…
During my school and college days, I have watched every sci-fi movie from Hollywood. In early 90s, I did a Tamil serial for Doordarshan in which the central character was a robotic dog that I made for Rs 5, 000, a huge amount in those days. The serial clicked because the dog looked realistic. Later, I made a shark for a Malayalam film.
How difficult was it to create the Robot and sets of the film?
I visited all the major special effects studios in Hollywood. That gave me the confidence that we could make the Robot with its mechanical movements in India. For a couple of months, I was in LA at the studio where they created Jurassic Park and Iron Man. We created more than 35 sets, including hi-tech sets, helicopters, Armed Personnel Carrier and a few other futuristic gadgets. It was the most challenging job that Iâ€™ve ever taken up. Every scene in the film has been taken with great care.
How do you think Endhiran has shaped out?
Technically, it is the best film ever made in India. I have watched parts of the film during post production work and I feel the screenplay and Shankarâ€™s script are the backbone, along with Rajinikanthâ€™s awesome performance in a dual role as the scientist and the Robot (who is a humanoid). The film, like all Shankar films, has been made like an extravagant entertainer with mind-blowing songs by
A R Rahman and will appeal to all sections of the audience. We have created sets for four songs, which will be a visual treat. The huge budget spent for the film will be justified when you watch it on the screen.
What is the difference between Endhiran and Ra.One, both sci-fi films?
They are in different genres of sci-fi. The story of Endhiran is set in the present-day world, while Ra.One belongs to the virtual reality world