‘We shot in minus 8 degrees, and Ranbir and Bobby were bare-bodied. That was very tough!’
“We used 25-30 litres of blood just for the first fight sequence in the hotel,” Make-up artist Amit Amberkar says about the violent action scene in Sandeep Vanga Reddy’s Animal, where Ranbir Kapoor single-handedly kills an unending line-up of masked goons.
300 fighters — divided equally between Chennai and Mumbai — were employed for the fight sequence, and they rehearsed for 10 days before Ranbir joined them.
Known for his dedication, Ranbir insisted on doing the fight scenes himself instead of getting a body double.
“Ranbir is very dedicated. Every day, he would work out in the gym for two hours, then eight hours of rehearsal and then shoot,” Fight master Supreme Sunder raves, as Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com listens in.
Making the fight even more unique was the Marathi and Punjabi music that Ranbir’s bodyguards sang, as he vanquished scores of men by shooting them or slicing them with an ax.
But the highlight is undoubtedly the ‘war machine’ called Made In India, which was designed by Production Designer Suresh Selvarajan.
“Suresh Selvarajan showed me the gun. It had to be a Hollywood-style gun but it was called Made In India. It weighed 500 kilos. Ranbir is very fit, that’s why he could do it,” Sunder adds.
It took Selvarajan four months to construct the machine gun, which first had a wooden prototype — on which Ranbir would practice — before finally, filming on the main machine made of steel.
“This is extreme violence but the story wanted that,” says Sunder, 53, a third generation fight director, who has earlier worked on the Malayalam film Jallikattu, which had been India’s choice for the Oscars in 2021.
“The director had briefed us about the guns that would be used, how powerful they would be, and the kind of fights, and we had to design accordingly. So if a gun is blasting a wall, we knew what a big hole or mark it would leave on a body,” Amit says.
But despite the heavy fighting, bruising and bleeding, Vanga Reddy had one important instruction to the make-up team: Ranbir’s face should be visible.
“He gets injured due to a blast, where his eardrums shatter. But we were told that his face should not get so bloody that the audience cannot see it properly. So we (including Shrikant Desai, who did the colouring work) gave his nose a cut, made his chin a bit bloody… gradually, we kept adding on while the director was watching and guiding us.
“Then we ripped Ranbir’s clothes and showed the blood there, how it would look after a blast. We got the final look after about an hour,” he says.
But it was not without challenge.
“It’s not that easy to get to work with a big artist because they have their own demands, they want to work with their own celebrity makeup artists,” Amit says.
“We got a month to design the fight, but we were told just a day before that we would have to do the make-up for Ranbir Kapoor.
“We already knew about the fights, and had prepared for it, but we didn’t realise we would be working on Ranbir’s face and clothes.
“One does feel pressure because while it’s easy to work on fighters, working on celebrities is challenging because they have sensitive faces. We use good products but still, you feel nervous about whether it will suit the celebrities’ skins.
“But it felt as if someone suddenly came home, and you had to feed them vada pav! But Ranbir was totally okay with everything.”
The sequence took 15 days to shoot but Sunder says the climax was even tougher to shoot.
The climax showed Ranbir’s face-off with Bobby Deol, where they fought on a tarmac in London.
“We shot in London, in minus 8 degrees, and Ranbir and Bobby were bare-bodied. That was very tough!” Sunder says.
“Ranbir rehearsed for five days and Bobby for five days. During the rehearsals, they had body doubles but not during the actual shoot,” he adds.
The climax took 11 days to film.
“It was very tiring for them. The ground was hard, and they weren’t wearing shirts. After the shoot, they would get a massage every day,” he says.
“The director told me this movie has to have a very angry fight between two brothers. There has to be heavy blood and very violent,” says Sunder.
This is Sunder’s first Hindi film as a fight master but he has dabbled with Bollywood as a stuntman before.
“I joined the industry in 1990 as a stuntman. My entire family is in the film line. My grandfather was a fight master in (the 1948 Tamil film) Chandralekha. My father was an action director, my brother is also one. My son Santosh is also going to become one. He is 24 years old now, and is a stunt assistant.
“I used to do a lot of Mithun movies as a stuntman. I have done films with Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan too. I used to be Gulshan Grover’s body double,” he says.
Animal may have begun many conversations, but many would probably agree on one thing: The action is truly Made in India.
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