Padmavati: Will Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s vision be adversely affected by 3D conversion?

Here’s the thing: If a Hindi film had to be picked for post-conversion to 3D, then you’d probably like to put your money on a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. The trailer of Padmavati has already won hearts, and you know that whatever else a Bhansali film offers apart, you’ll never fall short of visual grandeur and scale.

Thus, in retrospect, it isn’t a surprise that the makers of Padmavati have decided to release a 3D version of the film as well. The positive reaction to the opulent imagery in the trailer makes the film a prime candidate for such a step; and since so many Hollywood blockbusters already see a primary release in 3D (even in markets such as India and China), it’s high time Indian studios and filmmakers explored the 3D option to see how the audience takes to it, and what possibilities exist with the technology itself.

Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor in Padmavati

Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor in Padmavati

However, it is important to note that despite the impetus and push given to 3D releases, audiences haven’t yet whole-heartedly accepted the format.

The reliance on 3D glasses to consume theatrical content in 3D means that the image is darkened, it is hazy around the edges (if you tilt your head, for instance), even as 2D to stereo 3D conversion in post-production is yet to achieve good enough results.

The last major Hindi releases to be converted to stereo 3D were Ra.One and Don 2, and both of them had visible glitches in the 3D version, which actually ended up taking away from the experience rather than adding to it.

Since Padmavati wasn’t originally conceived as a 3D film, it’s unlikely that much of the film will fully be able to take advantage of 3D.

For example, in the 3D re-release of Sholay in 2014, they actually embellished certain shots with VFX, adding 3D elements that appeared to dart towards the viewer, which was considered by many to be a defacement of the original.

Bhansali’s films are known for the sensory spectacle that they offer, so it would be sacrilege if the 3D version ends up tarnishing the impact of Bhansali’s and cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee’s frames. Had the film been conceived and shot in 3D, then it would probably have been an experience to behold, even with the 3D glasses.

Take Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, for instance. 3D had already caught on in a big way in Hollywood studios when the film came out, but Scorsese used the 3D technology offered to him to actually impact the storytelling, as characters were placed and scenes were staged keeping the extra dimension in mind.

First look of Padmavati

First look of Padmavati

At the launch of the 3D trailer of the film, Viacom18 COO Ajit Andhare spoke about the 3D release, confident about the final result they have achieved. However, it will only really make an impact if the sequences have been designed in such a way that they make use of the spatial element in the actual storytelling as well. (We reached out to Viacom 18 Motion Pictures for a more elaborate comment on the 3D conversion in Padmavati, but there was no further response)

As is the case with most films, a majority of the Indian audience is likely to watch the film only once, and if they have to choose between the 2D and 3D version, you can imagine what they’re more likely to pick. And for those who decide to make 3D their only viewing of the film, anything that compromises on Bhansali’s vision would be a letdown.

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