2.0, the highly anticipated sequel to Shankar’s Enthiran (2010), will be released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on November 29. The much-delayed 3D production will see Rajinikanth reprise his two roles from the first film – the scientist Vaseegaran and his eccentric robot Chitti. At the end of Enthiran, Vaseegaran was forced to retire Chitti after he went rogue.

In 2.0, Vaseegaran reboots Chitti after Dr Richard (Akshay Kumar), a half-bird-half-human mutant, wages a war on cellphones and technology. Aiding the villain is a huge robotic bird. This is Kumar’s first role in Tamil cinema. 2.0 also stars Amy Jackson, Sudhanshu Pandey, Adil Hussain and Kalabhavan Shajohn. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan does not star in 2.0, but her character from Enthiran will reportedly be referred to in the film.

The cinematography is by Nirav Shah (Billa, Wanted), who has also worked on Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s upcoming film Super Deluxe. T Muthuraj (Shankar’s I, as well as Mersal) is in charge of production design and art direction. Shankar’s regular editor Anthony is part of the crew as well.

Resul Pookutty is in charge of sound design. Srinivas Mohan and Walt Jones of Tau Films (Baahubali) are the visual effects supervisors, while Rif Dagher of Double Negative (Ex Machina, Blade Runner 2049) is the visual effects head. AR Rahman has composed the soundtrack in three languages.

2.0 (2018).

The hyperbole around 2.0 extends to its budget and its early earnings. The Lyca Productions release has allegedly cost between an estimated Rs 500 and Rs 600 crore, and is touted to be the most expensive film made in India. 2.0 has reportedly earned back Rs 370 crore, claimed Bollywood Hungama: Rs 120 crore through advance bookings, satellite rights for Rs 120 crore, digital rights for Rs 60 crore, the publication stated.

At the launch of the film’s trailer earlier this month, actor Rajinikanth declared, “I am telling you today, take my words, 2.0 will be a super-duper hit.” According to trade sources, the film will be released on between 6,600 and 6,800 screens across India in 2D and 3D versions. With a run-time of 148 minutes, 2.0 is Shankar’s shortest film till date. The film’s 14-minute-and-35-second soundtrack, with three songs, also stands out in Shankar’s career.

Endhira Logathu Sundariye, 2.0.

Unlike Enthiran, which was shot traditionally with 2D cameras and rendered in 3D during post-production, 2.0 has been shot entirely in 3D. At a press conference in Mumbai on Monday, calling Shankar “James Cameron on steroids”, Akshay Kumar stressed on 2.0 being an “original 3D film where you can feel every beat of it”.

Additionally, the sound has been rendered with a new technology called the 4D SRL (Shankar, Resul, Lyca). At the trailer launch, Shankar requested exhibitors to upgrade their theatres to screen films using the 4D SRL technology, wherein speakers are installed under the seats, in addition to the existing sound system, to create an immersive experience.

In an interview with Behindwoods, Shankar said that Akshay Kumar shares equal screen space with Rajinikanth. Kumar’s villain Richard also has a theme song for his character. Shankar had approached Kamal Haasan, Aamir Khan, Vikram and even Arnold Schwarzenegger for the role. Kumar signed on for the part in 2015.

In the trailer, Kumar’s scientist character is established as a lover of birds, who goes rogue and launches an attack against cellphones. Kumar’s Richard appears under heavy make-up, comprising orange eyes and black feathers. The prosthetic work has been overseen by Antonio Loza, who has worked in the special effects and make-up departments of Hollywood productions such as Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Overlord (2018).

“My character required around four hours of prosthetic make-up and another hour-and-a-half to remove it,” Kumar said at the trailer launch on Monday. “In my whole career, I’ve never put so much of makeup.”

Akshay Kumar in 2.0.

Shankar has teased audiences by declaring that the film will feel like one lengthy climax sequence 20 minutes after the intermission. “There will be so many happenings that you wouldn’t even know when the climax began,” Shankar said about the climax, which supposedly has 15 scenes together. “But if you have to particularly differentiate and see, the stadium fight sequence will be the climax.” In this sequence, giant versions of Chitti 2.0 and Richard battle it out.

The special effects-heavy film was scheduled to be released during Diwali in 2017. The change in the release date to January 25 this year was announced later by Raju Mahalingam, one of the producers, so as to “achieve world class standards in VFX”. The film was moved to April, with Rajinikanth citing computer graphics work as the reason behind the delay.

A series of making-of videos released this year revealed the amount of technology and manpower employed for the spectacle: 2,150 VFX shots, 1,000 VFX artistes, native 3D, animatronics, 1,300 pre-visualisation shots and virtual camera technology, to name a few. Despite the film’s gargantuan scope and scale, Shankar, in a video, encapsulated his approach to visual effects by saying, “Audience should not feel the VFX, that’s the best VFX.” Come Thursday, the report cards will be out.

Visual effects in 2.0.