Pallavi Shroff Bharucha
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Prosthetics and SFX creator, cinematographer, short filmmaker, photographer and tattoo artist are a few of the exceptional feathers that embellish the professional hat of skills donned by Pallavi Shroff Bharucha. She’s an exceptionally talented, young Parsi, hailing from Bengaluru city. Technically proficient with a Master's level diploma in Filmmaking, specialising in cinematography from Prague Film School, Czech Republic, Pallavi’s also taken and a course in Prosthetics and Character Creation from Gorton Studios, Aylesbury, U.K. Moreover, her remarkable documentary on Zoroastrianism in 2014 won her the JGI award for excellence in documentary production by the Jain Group of Institutions.
At 25, Pallavi Shroff Bharucha is undoubted, a powerhouse of talent. She as a prosthetics and SFX artist is recognised and much sought after, not just in every regional film industry in South India, but in the competitive Hindi film industry as well.
Pallavi’s debut film, Game Over, starring Taapsee Pannu was released in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu; in which the gruesome severed heads made by Pallavi were the primary jump scares of this film. Her second film, Saand ki Aankh, had Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar as the two leading actresses, playing the roles of sixty-year-old sharpshooters. The challenge was in creating an aged look using skin application make-up, from scratch, instead of prosthetics. Taapsee’s make-up was done by Pallavi, and the cosmetic creation of a wrinkled sexagenarian sans prosthetics created a huge stir in cinematic circles.
The other films that form Pallavi’s formidable repertoire of work from 2018 are:
* Kannada film: –Sakuchi
* Tamil film directed by Vijay Anand: - Dagaalty.
* Untitled Tamil film by Shree Karthick,
* Tamil film directed by Mani Ram: – Poda Mundam,
* Tamil Film directed by Milind Rau: - Netrikan,
* Hindi film directed by Amit Masurkar: - Ek Thi Sherni, –starring Vidya Balan and Vijay Raz.
* Tamil film directed by Ashwin Saravanan.
* Baby Shower.
Pallavi spoke about her work and life during our interview with her.
1. What made you embark on a journey in Prosthetics and SFX, especially since
did you train in filmmaking initially?
A- It is “The thrills of being able to create something out of nothing.” I embarked on this journey of SFX quite unintentionally, and the idea was triggered off when I had to fill the gap of an SFX artist in a short film that I was directing and making myself.
What started as a cost-effective solution for my small budget production, paved the way for the adventure of a lifetime, and a career in prosthetics and SFX ensued. Being of a naturally artistic mind and having done immersive work with creative techniques like painting, sculpting and tattooing, I found myself exploring and blending these art forms in my prosthetics. It was deeply satisfying to create different; gripping looks for cinema, and the fact that my prosthetics enhanced the impact of the film with their realistic visual effects has been extremely encouraging and motivating for me. From dabbling and experimenting with this extraordinary genre of special effects, I realised that I could make a fulfilling career of it. As I was a self-taught SFX artist earlier, I later upgraded my acumen by studying this art form in the U.K.
2. What exactly is Prosthetic makeup? How do you do SFX?
A- Prosthetic makeup is the creation and application of makeup made of silicon, gelatine or latex on a person to create a certain look, which could be an injury, a wound, a casualty, a severed body part, or even a fearsome creature. The creation of such cosmetic effects incorporates multiple processes, such as lifecasting, sculpting, moulding, painting, applying and colour matching.
This whole process is laborious and can take from two days to a few months depending on the surface area and the intrinsic detailing. Certain SFX makeup can also be created by using silicon and directly sculpting it on the skin, which is a process that takes at least an hour or two, on a film set.
3. Your work involves creating grotesque images of the human body, like - injuries,
wounds and, disfigured looks etc. How do you find the motivation to do mentally
challenging work like this? Does the morbidity depress you at times?
A - Prosthetic makeup gives you the freedom to think outside the box, to create something you’ve only dreamt of till now. The primary objective for my visualisation and creation of such mind-numbing prosthetics is to magnify the visual effects of the character in the film. Most often, the storyline necessitates a certain kind of look in reel-life, which heightens the impact by bringing into fore a situation that one never experiences in real life.
My job is to present flawed, lacerated, maimed, or disfigured creatures or body parts that evoke strong emotions like pity, sympathy, disgust, or awe, in viewers. My motivation for each distinctive look that I work on is evincing a shock response that adds to its cinematic intensity, therefore rendering an artistic value to my prosthetics. Though I often cringe looking at the result, it doesn’t make me depressed, as I go through many stages of detailed research and initial preparation. However, I must confess that sometimes I need to sleep with the lights on.
4. At such a young age you have an impressive body of work in three top film
industries down South:- Sandalwood, Kollywood and Tollywood, and now an
explosive entry into the Hindi film industry in 2019. What has your experience been
A- It has been a great learning curve to experience such diverse environments, and I immensely appreciate the fact that everyone is so respectful and accommodating. I have always been made to feel at home, even though I don’t speak the languages down South. All my experiences have been professional, and I marvel at how seamlessly each film unit grows into an extended family. I have been allowed tremendous creative leverage with each film I’ve done, and that is the remarkable facet of this profession.
5. As a young, female professional, do you face challenges in your workplace? Do senior technicians feel intimidated by your new-age techniques?
A. Interestingly, I have not come across any such negativity. Nowadays, everyone works with their respective artists; respecting each other’s work and the confidentiality related to specific work techniques.
6. How do you cope with extensive travelling with film units to different cities and,
sometimes, remote locations?
A. It does get exhausting and hectic, especially when I find myself working on different film projects, where locations can be in different parts of the country in the same month. Every shoot is a unique experience in itself. I have worked in studios, in remote locations and in the wilderness, too. My last shoot was in a jungle near Bhopal was known for frequent bear and tiger attacks. I feel every location has its unique beauty, adventure, and thrill, and I cherish these exciting travels.
7. Since you have worked in different departments behind the camera, have you
ever considered a stint in front of the camera?
A. Well, yes, I have done a cameo in Saand Ki Aankh and another one in an upcoming Tamil film. And I’m not going to lie, but I did enjoy both my acting stints. Being an avid student of cinema, I would love to be part of such opportunities.
8. What is your vision for your company Pal FX Studios? Where do you see
yourself five years from now?
A- In the next few years, I hope to see Pal FX Studios being recognised by the production houses in the Indian film industries, and to be delivering to them high-standard prosthetics, which would soon make us an example for prosthetics in the world.
9. Please share something about your love and empathy for your four-legged
A. I think animals are nature’s best creations. I love all animals, and my favourites are dogs, as I believe they have such pure souls. My husband and I rescue animals in need, wherever possible. We help as much as we can and hope others would do the same for them.
10. What is your message for our new women-centric magazine TANG?
A. I feel TANG magazine is providing a great platform for artists like us to talk about our stories, and also to be recognised. It is a beautiful, motivating gesture that I’m truly thankful for. I think it’s a wonderful way to support each other, and help each other grow. For all the women out there, Believe in yourself, push yourself further and accept yourself. You’re much more valuable and capable than you think.
As Pallavi Shroff Bharucha continues to shock, thrill, and fascinate cinephiles with her enthralling creations and her painstaking work with cosmetic effects, she inspires us with her inimitable dedication to her craft and the pursuit of her dream.