Dream destination for film-makers

The state-of-the-art, one-stop location for directors, Ramoji Film City, promoted by media mogul Ramoji Rao, has entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest film studio in the world. It has edged out Hollywood’s Universal Studios, in both size and facilities. Ramesh Kandula reports from Hyderabad

Pineapple Garden is one of the 500 locations that can cater to 20 international films simultaneously
Pineapple Garden is one of the 500 locations that can cater to 20 international films simultaneously

WALK in with a script and walk out with a canned film is the USP of the Ramoji Film City (RFC), Hyderabad, which has now officially acquired the distinction of being the world’s largest integrated film studio complex.

Spread over 2,000 acres at Hayatnagar on the outskirts of the city, RFC, the most technologically advanced studio in the country, is a one-stop shop for film-makers with facilities including outdoor locations, pre-production, post-production and processing laboratories. Ever since it was established in 1996, the studio has since been a major tourist attraction with over 10 lakh tourists visiting the complex every year.

Ever since it started operations, the RFC has attracted several film-makers from all languages. Hollywood producers too use the studio at RFC because it offers a comprehensive package and world-class infrastructure and technology.

This vast film-making base has 47 sound stages compared with Universal’s 34. Features that make the studio a filmmaker’s paradise are custom-designed locations, mock-ups, set construction, properties and costumes, shooting stages, camera and equipment, audio post-production, digital post-production/ SFX and film processing.

Maverick Entertainment Group of Hollywood filmed its 2004 horror film Centipede entirely at Ramoji Film City. Ramoji Rao was also the co-executive producer of the film. Director Greg Gieras explains, "One of the most important components of this film were the giant centipede and the sets, both of which were constructed entirely at Ramoji Film City." Ramoji Film City has been involved in the making of seven Hollywood motion pictures including Crocodile 2, Quicksand, Nightfall and Beeper over the past six years by way of providing equipment, crew, sets and post-production facilities, according to A V Rao, publicity manager of the studio. RFC is a natural progression of Ramoji Group’s long-standing involvement with the film industry. Over the past two decades, Ushakiron.

Maya, the set design and construction division of the RF,C has an inventory of more than 10,000 objects. (Inset) Ramoji Rao, the man who created the RFC
Maya, the set design and construction division of the RF,C has an inventory of more than 10,000 objects. (Inset) Ramoji Rao, the man who created the RFC

Movies, the film production company of the group, has produced over 80 films in several Indian languages including Hindi,Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi and Bangla. "The studio fulfils the long-cherished dream of film-makers to experience the convenience of a facility that provides the entire range of top-quality film-making resources under one roof," RFC’s Managing Director, A.Ramamohan Rao says.

Everything that goes into the making of a film, from raw film to cameras, to processing labs to editing consoles, stage properties, studio floors and even travel arrangements and recreation is available at the studio complex. Located about 25 km from the city, the Film City streets can pass off for Geneva, New York, London and Tokyo. It has the Wild West of the United States and famous gardens from across the world. "This is the only facility in the world where a producer can walk in with a script and walk out with the complete film," Rao says.

The city offers over 500 locations and can cater to 20 international films simultaneously. Nearly 40 Indian films can be produced simultaneously in the complex manned by a workforce of 6,000 personnel. The wide array of production services includes Maya, the set design and construction division, Parade, the props and costumes division and the choicest accommodation and catering services. There is a backup inventory of 10,000 objects such as pillars, cornices, brackets moulds, domes and dado designs, an accomplished workforce of 500 professionals of Maya design and execute miniatures of any setting.

Parade is an immense storehouse of props and costumes and stocks authentic replicas of every conceivable item needed for a film shoot, which can be accessed through a computerised retrieval system. RFC’s communication infrastructure is state-of-the-art with a dedicated earth station, a special telephone exchange and broadband connectivity which is on 24/7 everywhere in the studio.

A range of top-end camera equipment for both film and video, a full compliment of lighting equipment, every conceivable film-making paraphernalia including remote operated camera cranes, dollies, camera cranes, special mechanical effects machines are available to the discerning film-makers. RFC’s post-production facilities are incomparable.

Rainbow, the fully automated world-class film lab, processes both colour as well as black and white films and is equipped with the state-of-the-art submerged processors.

Lagaan and the internationally acclaimed Choker Bali were among the films to be processed here.

Rainbow has been awarded the International Certificate for Colour Film Negative Processing for the year 2004 by Kodak. The digital editing facilities at Mantra, the editing studio, are world-class as evidenced by the fact that several timeless blockbuster classics and super-hit television series have been made accessible to millions across the globe through this ultramodern infrastructure.

Symphony, one of the world’s most advanced digital audio post-production facilities and the only facility of its kind in India, is a technological marvel created by John Flynn and Sam Tayoshima of the London-based Acoustic Design Group. One of the world’s first Harrison MPC-2 digital mixing consoles is available at this state-of-the-art facility. The latest Fairlight DREAM digital audio workstations are installed throughout the complex. Rhythm, Ramoji Film City’s advanced digital audiocassette duplication facility, can produce 20000 copies of tapes per day. A wide variety of accommodation, including the luxurious Sitara, the economical Tara and the well-kept dormitories Sahara is available for film crews.

As at Hollywood’s Universal Studios, Ramoji Film City doubles as a theme park. While RFC was conceived as a tribute to the bewitching magic of cinema, the idyllic complex over the years has become a sought after tourist destination. RFC has also become a high-profile venue for corporate conferences, product launches and theme parties.

The facility is presently nowhere near achieving capacity utilisation but with India poised to become a new frontier for international film production, RFC is all set to grab a major portion of the business.