In October of 2012, I had gotten a call from a producer friend of mine. He was working with an Indian director that wanted to shoot tigers on a green screen stage, for a movie they were shooting in Bangladesh and India. Truth be told, they had me at the word, "Tigers". It was during this shoot in Los Angeles, that I met Kamaal Sadanah and Abis Rizvi. We shot for a week, with four incredibly trained tigers on the green screen stage the synergy between the three of us was undeniable. Both Kamaal and Abis sat me down and Kamaal said, "How would you like to shoot the rest of the movie with us, in Bangladesh and India?" I was incredibly intrigued by Kamaal's approach and vision for his film. I have to admit I wasn't to sure what I was about to get myself into, but Kamaal pitched me the idea of actually taking a film crew to the Sunder ban jungles of Bangladesh, and for a month filming in areas that had really never been captured before, in a narrative sense. And since I love a good adventure, how could I not say, "Yes".
There was roughly three weeks between the end of our Los Angeles shoot and when I would leave for Mumbai, India. After reading the script, I basically designed a camera and lighting package that I felt would best accommodate the shoot, keeping in mind that we would be in a jungle in Bangladesh with minimal support from the outside world. Once we were in the jungle we had to be self-sufficient. The cast and crew quickly became really close as we were all living together on a flotilla of four boats for a month.
Filming in the Sunder bans jungles is not for the weak or fearful. The very first day we landed in the actual jungle, we saw tiger paw prints everywhere. They were among us. Not to mention the snakes, wild boars, deadly poisonous insects, salt-water crocodiles and many other dangerous creatures.
Each morning my crew and I would load all of the lighting, grip and camera gear into little canal boats, from the bigger boats. Once we got all of that gear to the edge of the canal, where we were to shoot on or in that day, Kamaal, an armed guard and myself would trek into the jungle and find the shooting set for the mornings work. The morning light in the Sunder bans is magical, so there was always a fare amount of pressure to get in and start the day before losing that light. I want say a special thank you to all those that helped moved gear from the boat, to the boats, from the boats to the set and back everyday without a grumble. With out all of you we could not have made this film.
Shooting Roar was truly an adventure for everyone involved, and this film is going to be talked about for quite sometime to come. The visual effects will absolutely cause audiences to jump out of their seats, and for their eyes to bulge with wonderment. That is directly due to the pain staking efforts of Jesh Krishna Murthy and his amazing team of artists at Anibrain VFX. I also owe him and his team, a great deal of thanks for keeping our imaginations open to the possibilities on bringing the tigers to the screen. When Kamaal would come up with a crazy idea about how he wanted to make the tigers exist in the scene, Jesh was always open to trying it. Knowing full well that it would be him and his team working out the details at Anibrain. In the end "Roar" will be one for the record books. Look out India!!