With the advent of technology, more and more film-makers turned towards CGI, which is relatively cheaper and efficient. Hard-core story-tellers who believed that CGI sucked out the true essence of film-making stuck to practical effects and elaborate sets. Without a shred of doubt, intricate and carefully planned sets give us a sense of realism and help film-makers engage their audience in their own fictitious world but at the same time, they also are heavy on the pocket. We take a look at some of these movies that had the backing of big production houses to build some huge and expensive sets.
This is surely the most expensive movie till date with a whopping budget of INR 250 crores. The majority of the moolah was spent on building lavish and expansive sets resembling the city of Mahishmati in the movie. Over a hundred acres of Ramoji Film City’s land was used to shoot the massive war sequences for the film. For the scenes where farmland was required, 20 acres of land was cultivated with maize crops to get the authentic shot. Dedication level over 9000!
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015)
Sooraj Barjatya‘s films are always known for fancy settings and backdrops. He redefines grandeur and with Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, he took it a notch higher. The iconic Sheesh Mahal was recreated to shoot a certain scene in the film. Lights worth INR 15 crores were bought it in as Barjatya wanted to make it as opulent as possible. Barjatya lived up to his reputation.
Waterworld required the construction of some huge and downright ingenious sets, the largest of which was an artificial atoll that measured 365 feet in diameter and weighed about 1,000 tons! The set was designed in such a way that it could be rotated, allowing the camera crew to take multiple shots from different angles. Unfortunately, for the production team, they failed to reckon the weather of Kona Coast in Hawaii, where they were filming. The high winds in the area meant that the set was regularly blown off resulting in a surged budget. The total budget tallied upto 175 million USD which is around INR 17.5 crores. It was considered to be the most expensive movie at the time.
James Cameron opted to have an almost full-scale replica of the doomed ocean liner for his period romance. Measuring 800 feet long, the liner was only 10 percent smaller than the once proud vessel it copied and sat in a 17m gallon tank that sucked in water from the nearby ocean. Talk about perfection.
Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix series have some serious fan following and to cater to their audience, the film-makers decided to use an unused military based as freeway. A particular highway scene that runs for as long as 10 minutes in the movie was shot by constructing a 1.5 mile long freeway with 19 feet walls and off ramp.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
When you have a successful franchise up and running, you may not want to settle for cheap CGI. Gore Verbinski did something elaborate to give his film a realistic look by erecting 40 structures placed within an 80X130 square feet tank, which was 1.1 meters deep. Fungi was grown throughout the set to give it a natural look. Real humidity was created with the help of water and lightning equipment. The set in California was water-drenched and kept in freezing temperatures.
Ben Hur (1959)
The budget of 1 million USD may seem like unobtrusive today but back in the year 1959, it was outrageous. The makers of the film invested a majority of this sum in building a massive chariot arena. About a 1000 builders were employed to work for over a year to carve out the track, place wooden structures and make grandstands. No wonder it turned out to be a classic.
So the next time you watch these movies, appreciate their outstanding efforts.
-By Anish Dhurat