By: Mohnish Singh
Namit Malhotra, the CEO of London-headquartered visual effects (VFX) major DNEG, believes the world of cinema has been divided into before and after Dune, the Hollywood thriller which bagged his company an Oscar.
The film, which won DNEG its seventh Oscar in the Best Visual Effects category at last week’s ceremony in Los Angeles, was one of two films in the race for the successful VFX team. The James Bond box-office hit No Time To Die was also in the race in the same category – a first for a Bond film in many years.
“I have been talking about how there is a pre-Dune and a post-Dune world in the VFX space, simply because of what we were able to achieve,” Malhotra told PTI.
“I have never felt so strongly about the art form and the seamlessness of what we have been able to deliver, it is mind-blowing. When you watch Dune, you are left astonished by the sheer seamless, integrated experience it has to offer,” he said.
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With reference to the other major success story of the year, Malhotra confesses to being an avid James Bond fan himself since boyhood.
“For the first time, after four-five decades, we are seeing a James Bond film nominated for the VFX category at the Oscars. To get into the line to get the nomination is very, very hard. That is a big step forward,” said the industry expert.
The son of film producer Naresh Malhotra and grandson of cinematographer N M Malhotra, Namit represents the third generation of a Bollywood filmmaking family. His dream of becoming a film director took him towards a computer graphics course and resulted in him recruiting three of his teachers as co-founders of Video Workshop, an editing studio in his father’s garage in Mumbai.
From a merger with his father’s film equipment business to create Prime Focus and then acquiring UK-based Double Negative, the 45-year-old film special effects pioneer views his journey to the awards red carpet as a sign of India’s digital prowess.
“India’s digital prowess has been acknowledged far and beyond the projects that have been going on since over a decade. DNEG does help validate the creative talent pool and how technological advances can be used to create a collaborative effort while creating quality content on a global scale,” said Malhotra.
“I started my professional career out of a garage in Mumbai back in 1995 when computers were not that advanced. From such humble beginnings to leading a global conglomerate, I am incredibly grateful to my father for his faith in me,” he said.
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Besides winning Oscars for Inception in 2011, Interstellar in 2015, and Tenet in 2021 – all Christopher Nolan films – DNEG has bagged Academy Awards for Ex Machina (2016), Blade Runner 2049 (2018), Fifth Man (2019), and now Dune to make up the company’s impressive Hollywood tally.
“While we continue to push the creative envelope, there are a plethora of projects our teams are working on, closely with creators to bring an immersive cinematic experience for the audience which includes The Last Of Us, The Flash, Aquaman 2, and many more,” added Malhotra.