B2H Studios used Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve to complement stark colours and sun-kissed hues for The Ghazi Attack, aptly capturing the action in this underwater war film
By Vinita Bhatia
War films have the ability to elicit extreme reactions from the audience – either they can get completely engrossed in the unfolding action, or they might feel disengaged from cinematic interpretation of history. This was also what happened in the case of The Ghazi Attack, which was based on the mysterious sinking of Pakistan’s flagship submarine PNS Ghazi during the 1971 war. Tauted as India’s first war-at-sea film, it is a fictional rendition of how in 1971, a Pakistani submarine called the PNS Ghazi ventured into Indian waters with the ambition of destroying the INS Vikrant. Sailors aboard the Indian submarine S-21 stopped them in a war no one knew about.
The movie banked largely on the shoulders of actor Rana Daggubati, who enacted the role of the stoic Lieutenant Commander Arjun Varma. Those who liked the movie enjoyed it for the patriotism it evoked in them, as much as the muted action of the movie. After all, how much thrills could director Sankalp Reddy pack into a film that was based in the closed confines of a submarine.
Another thing that stood out was the drama and interplay between the two senior officers, Daggubati and Kay Kay Menon who was Captain Rann Vijay Singh. Again what add an edge to their sometimes aggressive exchanges were the dull fluorescent colour and the starkness within the submarine. This effect was rendered by B2H Studios, an entertainment company, which used Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve for grading the movie.
ALL THINGS STARK
The Ghazi Attack was shot in 6K resolution and used distinctively different colour schemes for the Pakistan and Indian Navy to personify their diverging ambitions. Raghunath Varma, colourist for The Ghazi Attack and owner of B2H Studios is well aware that colour can be used as a strong story device in story-telling.
The decade-old B2H Studios has two colouring suites in southern India – one each in Chennai and Hyderabad. Varma believes that colour can affect us psychologically and physically, often without us being aware. Talking about the work he did in the movie, he added said, “R Madhi, the DOP the movie, knew that composition, contrast and colour would be important elements in communicating emotions to the audience. We tried pushing the visuals a little further by desaturating warmly to create soft contrasting colours with higher vibrancy, much like a film from the 1960s.”
All this was well-planned in the pre-production phase. One reason for this was that despite the power of modern colour correction tools, like DaVinci Resolve, Varma believes that professionals should not leave colour to chance or expect a highly effective colour script in post. “When the details of cinematography are plotted out, colour adds a tremendous amount of storytelling power,” he noted. “Having worked with many industry-leading colour grading platforms, I have pretty much settled on only using DaVinci Resolve. I believe it is the fastest and most intuitive grading software out there. With every new upgrade, I find new tools that help me to be even more efficient. Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve support / development teams respond very quickly to our requirements.” He especially liked the 3D tracking, effecting mid-tone details, spatial NR, nodes, ResolveFX, remote grading, 3D qualifier and more.
It is not just Varma but several other colourists who believe that colour is a very powerful part of cinema storytelling; hence it should be budgeted for well in the beginning of movie making, rather towards the end of the process. After all, colourists play a critical role in lending the right amount of luminosity, contrast or darkness to a movie, depending on the content’s demand – to make the film appear more life-like.