We all know that Prashant Neel’s KGF was made with a . But what if we were to tell you that you could recreate a part of Rocky Bhai’s universe with just Rs 5,000? This is what brothers Srikanth Ranganathan and Srinath Ranganathan, who own the YouTube channel ExpertFX, have done. With 110K subscribers, the Chennai-based duo has been making videos, decoding the technicalities of filmmaking (such as editing and VFX) for the past few years.
The first thing you notice on their YouTube channel is a trailer that gives us a peek into their work. This includes a superhero landing in India. A man kicks a football and corrects a malfunctioned engine of an aeroplane. Another fires a helicopter from his balcony. Bombs blast and cars roll. And a line in the trailer reads: Kathukitta motha vidhaiyum erakanum (Loosely translated: We should exhibit all the skills and techniques we learnt). That is precisely what the siblings do in their channel.
KGF, Iron Man and Indian Rowdies: An ExpertFX makeover
Lately, they have been doing a series called "recreational videos", wherein they recreate a famous scene from a film. One of their recent videos with over 170K views was the KGF video. Even if its runtime is just three minutes, their low-budget KGF delivers the concept of the Yash blockbuster (along with its high-octane action and punch dialogue) effectively. But with a twist: what if the writer who details Rocky’s rise (originally played by Anand Ingalagi) turns out to be a person with an unsound mind, who narrates random stories? This touch is sure to leave you in splits. “While we want to try out the techniques, writing is also something we are interested in,” says Srinath.
Over the course of this 27-minute video, Srinath also takes you through a masterclass on how to make similar types of content. Titles like “5000 rupees KGF” helps them attract viewers but their aim is to show aspiring filmmakers that short films can be made with a small budget. Sample this for size: have you imagined Marvel superstars fighting Shankar film gangsters?
Why such a concept? “Iron Man was trending in 2018-19, and we were thinking of ways to localise the superhero idea and we thought it would be interesting to do a crossover,” says Srinath.
How It Started
It's been ten years since the brothers (Srinath was 13 and Srikanth was 18) started their YouTube channel. “We were in school when Srinath came up with the idea of making videos. In general, we play video games and watch Marvel films. So, we used to be fascinated by guns and action like most kids at that age. The fact that we could create guns, bullets and fire virtually, without having them in real life sounded cool,” Srikanth says.
In between learning the software, making videos and decoding the methods, several years passed. While Srinath was still studying, Srikanth finished his degree in biotechnology and food science and prepared to leave for the US for work. That was the first time the siblings had to part ways, and neither of them was happy about it. Besides the fact that Srinath didn’t want his brother to leave, there was another reason why he was upset.“With him leaving, it felt like our dreams of making it big in cinema were also leaving,” Srinath tells us.
However, the duo learnt to turn it around with an ingenious plan — Srikanth and Srinath leveraged the situation by buying high-end equipment from the US and practising their filmmaking. “We have all necessary equipment today,” rejoices Srinath who also made a video on PUBG at the time — their most trending video that has clocked over 1 million views. The video, which was a result of countless discussions over Skype, took a year in the making.
The Spiderman Effect
Srinath is a Visual Communications graduate and as we know, Srikanth pursued biotechnology. But both their dreams have the same origin: Spiderman.“We have been Spiderman fans since childhood and it sparked an interest in VFX”. Is there a connection between Srikanth’s interest in biotechnology and Spiderman? “It was during the first Spiderman release, not sure if it was in 2005 or 07,” starts Srikanth only to be corrected by his brother — “It was 2002”. “Yes, I was young and Srinath should have been only 2 or 3 years old. So, when I was thinking about how Spiderman came to be, the story of how the spider bit him and the way genes and DNA recombined, intrigued me. And that’s why biotechnology,” explains Srikanth.
But their eventual dream was to make it big in cinema. So, Srikanth quit his job and returned to where he belonged. “I came back here for this, it is like our soul,” Srikanth says.
YouTube to Big screen
The brothers, who call their channel a “digital visiting card,” share that they got the opportunity to make their first-ever feature film in Telugu recently, all thanks to a producer who was impressed with their videos. As they keep the details under wraps, Srinath tells us that the film is now in its post-production stage.
Although their friends help them out with the acting parts and sets, the duo manage everything else. They are following the same philosophy for their feature film as well. The brothers will be credited as the writers, directors, cinematographers, editors and VFX artists of their debut. “Srinath handled the camera. I learnt Telugu when I was in the US and it came in handy. I took care of the direction mostly, and sometimes Srinath would pitch in,” notes Srikanth.
The brothers add that the feature film venture will not come in the way of their YouTube channel. “We want to continue sharing what we learn, and now that we are on the sets, we could share those experiences too. And as they say, the more you share, the more you learn!”
The Journey Ahead
The brothers look at this opportunity as just the beginning. “We would keep doing films for the rest of our lives,” says Srikanth. The reality of making a film didn't hit the brothers until the day they actually started shooting. "It was a magical moment," Srikanth says. Recalling their first day on set, Srinath says they looked at each other and smiled, going through the same emotions. “But there is still a long way to go”.
“I have always had a student within me who wanted to keep learning. Having entered the industry, I realise that the student can sometimes be lost and replaced by a sense of rigidity. When I look at the first ever camera I used back at home, I can still feel the joy and happiness I had then. I want to retain the same desire to learn.”