Having storyboarded our sequences we made animated versions of them. These pre-viz versions were with lensing, edits and background score. They gave us a fair amount of clarity on how our action will look. It also helped us define the approach for various shots. In theory we were confident we could pull off this show but practically it was still unchartered territory we were venturing into. That brought about the next stage of prep. Test shoots.
The support from visual effects would be the key in filming our sequences. We isolated some complicated shots from the film and decided to test them first. We set up outdoor green screen sets and took various shots with trained dogs. These shots from our storyboards included basic jumps, walks, and barks. We then called in a bunch of actors on another day and filmed the counter shots with them. An approach we intentionally took was to film them at a different time of the day as compared to filming the dogs. We intentionally rigged for various lighting mistakes and other elements, which would not be in our control.
Our theory was that "plan A" always works but we will always land up with "plan B" so we need to see if we could overcome these anomalies. It was also a good opportunity to test the various formats and cameras that will be most suitable for the film. We managed to achieve near perfect compositing results. Within a few months we were back in the studios with our VFX team now testing sequences with stunt doubles and CGI tigers. Our action sequences were larger than life and were choreographed to show our tigers in their full magnanimity. These shots couldn't completely be achieved with real tigers so we would have to depend on CGI to fill in the blanks. The tests showed spectacular results.
Now with a great degree of clarity and confident of thrilling our audiences with this amazing action adventure the manhunt for the suitable cast began. Conventional thinkers egged us to cast some of the popular Bollywood stars, as the budget of the film was a no brainer to asses. But that is exactly what we didn't want. We were going to show the world a location that has never been captured on commercial cinema, a level of drama showcasing the enormity and the versatility of the worlds largest mangrove forest and its creatures, a level of motion picture visual effects that will create a benchmark, so with all these fresh approaches we definitely need a cast of good performing artists who would represent the energy, the dichotomy and the predicament of our characters. So we stood our ground and decided to introduce new talent in this magnum opus we were ready to make.
With close to 500 auditions the selection process was not as fun and glamorous as most laymen believe but we got the ones that fit the bill. Four months before principal photography our cast underwent the most grueling and comprehensive training regime together. Boot camp, acting workshops, wirework training, VFX training, costume trials, make up tests, all this to achieve an attitude and the temperament to move and behave like a team.