Issue 2, 2010 Volume 7 - Kodak

motion.kodak.com

Issue 2, 2010 Volume 7 - Kodak

Volume 7

INSIDE

Yash Chopra

C. K. Muraleedharan

R. Giri

Pradip Chakravarty

Amal Neerad

Ravi Yadav

Manoj Paramahamsa

Anil Nair

Raja Phadtare

Attar Singh Saini

Rahul Jadhav

Archana Borhade

Issue 2, 2010

Master Kishen

M. Venkatesan


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Volume 7

INSIDE

Full Steam Ahead

Veteran filmmaker and industry leader Yash

Chopra, in a rare interview with Deepa Gahlot.

Throw Out The Rulebook

Deepa Deosthalee talks to hotshot DOP

C.K. Muraleedharan about his ad work.

Keeping Up With The Times

DOP R. Giri talks to R.G. Vijayasarathy.

Painting With Light

Pradip Chakraborty tells Malabi Sen that he

does not let problems affect the quality of

his work.

“The DOP should be like a

meek wife”

K B Venu met Amal Neerad at Kochi.

A Finger in Every Pie

Ravi Yadav talks to Manju Latha Kalanidhi

about his dreams and ambitions.

Shades of Dreams

Divya K goes into creative details with DOP

Manoj Paramahamsa.

Second Time Lucky

Anil Nair shares the ups and downs in his

career with K.B. Venu.

Hard Work Pays

Raja Phadtare tells Johnson Thomas that he

considers the industry as his true home.

Success is a State of Mind

Attar Singh Saini tells Deepa Deosthalee that

he is not disheartened by the fate of some of

his films.

Flagged Off

Rahul Jadhav shares his career plans with

Deepa Deosthalee.

Young Guns - Bright Spark

Divya K meets aspiring cinematographer

Archana Borhade in Chennai.

Young Guns - Child Prodigy

R.G.Vijayasarathy tracks the achievements

of Master Kishan.

Documenting A Legend

M. Venkatesan talks about the making of his

biopic on Gemini Ganesan.

FOREWORD

Managing Editor: Suresh Iyer

Editor: Deepa Gahlot

Issue 2, 2010

The first few months of the year have been difficult for the film industry, what with

competition from cricket and off-screen glamour. In spite of all this ,one must admit, we

did see a lot of movies being released.

Industry leader Yash Chopra, in a rare and candid interview, foresees tough times ahead.

Though the Hindi film industry is growing at a rapid pace and spreading its wings

overseas, there is also serious competition for local films from big-budget Hollywood

extravaganzas. Proceed with caution is his advice.

Images goes around the country, taking a look at behind-the-scenes of filmmaking in

every region, and continues the series on Young Guns..

Wishing you enjoyable summer vacations and happy reading...

Suresh S Iyer

Country Business Manager

Entertainment Imaging

Design and layout: Roopak Graphics, Mumbai

Printing: Amruta Print Arts, Mumbai

Printed and Published by: Suresh Iyer on behalf of Kodak India Private Limited, at Mumbai.

Do write in with ideas, suggestions, comments to kodakimages@rediffmail.com

This is an independent magazine.

Views expressed in the articles are those of authors alone.

Volume 7, Issue 2, 2010

Cover Credit: Yash Chopra

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films

Full Steam

Ahead

Veteran filmmaker and industry leader

Yash Chopra, in a rare interview with

Deepa Gahlot talks of Bollywood and its

place in the world

On what works:

The Mumbai film industry has already gone global, but there are

different yardsticks for different films. For instance, Karan Johar's latest

film My Name is Khan was distributed by Fox, it was screened at Berlin, it

had a red carpet premiere at Abu Dhabi. It had a wide release and

entered some territories where Hindi films are not normally released.

Because of Fox, it did very well overseas. On the other hand 3 Idiots was

not taken up by any global distributor and it was the biggest hit in India,

and also did very good business overseas.

On why dubbing is a harmful trend:

Avatar was a great film and is a great threat to Indian films. Dubbing of

Hollywood films into Indian languages is eating into the domestic film

business in a big way. For such big special effects films, with 300-400

million dollar budgets, dubbing costs peanuts. We should see how to

fight this threat. We have to safeguard our industry. Maybe dubbing of

Hollywood films should not be allowed.

On Co-productions:

A lot of co-productions happened in the last two years, but I don’t think

it has been a very happy experience for the overseas people; it may have

been happy for the Indian producers. When a film does not do well, it

hurts the person who spends money and takes it up.

Co-productions with big studios can be done as far as money is

concerned… otherwise, we are poles apart culturally.

After so many years and much advancement there are certain things our

audiences will never accept. True, there are taboo subjects that people

are making in India and some audiences are accepting them too—those

‘Hindish’ (Hindi-English) films without songs, which young people are

accepting. Films like LSD and Dev D have also done well, but by and

large, I don’t think we can make films, that can please both

audiences—here and abroad.

“We are losing a lot of things in our culture.

In our music, the soul is gone…

the Indian melody is gone.”

1


On promoting films:

My Name Is Khan and 3 Idiots were good films, I don’t think just

promotion can make a film successful. In India, now everyone is

promoting films in a big way, with all kinds of gimmicks, but all that

doesn’t translate into success, if the film is bad. It’s unthinkable, the

money that it spent on promotion, and after all that if the film does not

do well, it pinches.

All these years not more than seven or eight percent films were

successful; and I am talking success-failure in terms of money only.

Those days of jubilees are gone. Today, lakhs is nothing, everything is in

crores and how much comes back? Business is not more than two

weeks, and of this 70 percent is in the first week. If you miss the first

week for some reason, you miss the business completely.

On new revenue models:

There are other avenues of business… but now, the physical format of

music is almost finished. Money is spent on the promotion of music, but

it is not recovered. Other forms like internet and mobile downloads have

appeared, but they are not making as much as we used to make with

only music sales. Now, I am told, even mobile downloads are decreasing.

On globalization:

Globalization actually started when we started shooting abroad.

Because of terrorism in Kashmir, I started going to Switzerland, where

the locations were beautiful. Now almost every country is trying to woo

India to come and shoot on their locations. They earn foreign exchange,

even if 10 percent of the people who see the films visit their countries.

There are lots of deals going on, subsidies offered, as a result it is

cheaper to shoot in Switzerland than in India. Rakesh Roshan and

Singapore had big deals when he shot Krissh there. There is comfort of

shooting, fantastic locations, but I don’t think just because you shoot

abroad, the film will be successful.

We did a co-production with Disney on the animation film Roadside

Romeo. They were surprised by our animators and the film won awards

internationally. We are doing good work, but when you see Avatar, you

know we have a long way to go.

Pyaar Impossible

Ta Ra Rum Pum

Tashan

Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

Everyday the world is becoming smaller—co-productions can be done,

technically and financially. The difference in exchange rates goes a long

way. Fifty crores are a few million dollars, why won’t they gamble? But

nobody can make a crossover film; if it is good, it will cross over. In 10

years, a lot of deals have been done at FICCI Frames, ultimately global

interaction will benefit us.

On Bollywood and the world:

Bollywood has become a big name, the whole world wants it in one way

or the other. Indian entertainment, cinema, theatre, costumes,

food—everything. It’s a big craze and it has never happened before. We

were in Paris at the Ritz Hotel, and Tom Cruise was also there. When he

went out of the hotel, there were a few fans, but when Shah Rukh Khan

came out, it became difficult to control the crowds. The security people

requested us to travel in a bus and not separate cars, because they could

not handle it. It’s happening at every level. Our stars are very big… in

Egypt, Amitabh Bachchan is god! India is going global.

On the downside of going global:

We are losing a lot of things in our culture. In our music, the soul is

gone… the Indian melody is gone. They say that the market is dictated

by the youth and get away with anything. China and Japan have not lost

2 3

Badmaash Company

Dil Bole Hadippa!

Chak De! India

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

“All these years not more than seven or eight

percent films were successful; and I am talking

success-failure in terms of money only.

Those days of jubilees are gone.”

Veer-Zaara

their identity.

The advantage of going global is that people are rejecting formula films.

They are patronizing new kinds of cinema. The disadvantage is loss of

identity. You hardly see Indian costumes in out films anymore, or hear

Indian melody. You hardly get to hear powerful dialogues in our films. In

the old days there used to be special dialogue writers with a knowledge

of the language, who wrote those dialogues that people still remember.

Maybe now people want simple, colloquial dialogue, but you don’t hear

audiences clapping any more, or crying in emotional scenes. Dialogue ka

zamana chala gaya.

On directing again:

New York

I am trying to make my kind of film… romantic, human, emotional, so it’s

taking time to finalize. I can’t make just any film, and I can’t make a fool

of myself… but I have promised myself, that this year I will direct a film.


4

Throw

out the

Rulebook

Deepa Deosthalee talks to hotshot DOP C.K. Muraleedharan

about his ad work.

C.K.Muraleedharan believes that a cinematographer should do something new with each film and

never settle into a style. And that everything must come from the script. Which is why he’s very

selective of the films he does, both in cinema and in advertising. His impressive body of work

includes films like Lage Raho Munnabhai, Johnny Gaddaar and 3 Idiots and commercials for a wide

range of products from Cadbury’s and Surf Excel to Tata Sky and Airtel. Muraleedharan believes

advertising is going through an interesting phase where innovation is the keyword and the rulebook

has gone out of the window.

He’s the man who shot the highest-grossing Hindi film of all time, 3 Idiots. But for Muraleedharan,

it’s never been about the money. Unlike a lot of other cinematographers who dream of making it big

in Bollywood, he shied away from feature films for a long time because he didn’t connect with the

cinema of the ’70s and ’80s and focussed on documentaries and television mini-series instead. His

career in advertising too has run a similar course. “I’ve been in and out of advertising. I assisted

Barun Mukherjee 30 years ago when I first came to Mumbai. There was a time when I practically

lived at Famous Studios and did plenty of leftover stuff on different ad films. That was before the

digital era, when every effect had to be created manually,” he recalls.

“The audience is now used to seeing all kinds of images on

television and the internet. So they won’t believe anything

you show them unless you’re sure about

where you want to lead them.”

Facia

Eno

A physics graduate from Kerala, Muraleedharan believes his academic

background actually helped him a lot in his advertising work. He worked

with directors like Prahlad Kakkar, Ram Madhvani and Sumantra Ghoshal in

the 1990s. But somewhere along the way, he lost interest and consciously

moved away from shooting ad films. “Those days the look of ad films was

standardised – soft, polished and mushy. Beyond a point I got bored with

this set format and moved on to feature films instead. It wasn’t exciting to

spend 12 hours lighting up a teacup or a steel jar.”

But in recent years, he’s back on the circuit after what he describes as a

“change in the patterns and mood of ad films… From happy, peppy, smiley

images, we are now dealing with material that’s gritty, dark and realistic.

Over the past few years, both internationally and locally, the language of

expression in ad films has changed. Last year I did a commercial for Surf

Excel where a little boy is rolling in the mud to cheer up his teacher whose

pet dog has just died. I’m not into flowery images and prefer playing with

contrasts and silhouettes.”

It was Muraleedharan who shot the first Airtel commercial with Madhavan

and Vidya Balan that was directed by Vinil Mathew, one of his favourite

directors. “We didn’t know how well that film would work when we shot it. But

when we saw the result, I was confident it would strike a chord and it did.”

Kurkure

Airtel

Fa

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Surf Excel

While Muraleedharan has shot dozens of commercials over the past few

years with a variety of ad filmmakers, his commitment to feature films

doesn’t leave him with too much time for advertising. “Generally I do ad

films in between feature films because I spend a lot of time on pre-

production for feature films and it’s difficult to shuffle between the two.

And I don’t do too many ads. Feature films are more strenuous and the

responsibility is much more.”

But ad films offer him a great deal of variety in terms of creative

challenge. “Recently I shot a commercial for Eno outside shady

restaurants in Byculla with minimal lighting. It has a very different

ambience. Today, every script can be innovative so things don’t get

repetitive. Also, the audience is now used to seeing all kinds of images

on television and the internet. So they won’t believe anything you show

them unless you’re sure about where you want to lead them. And you

can’t copy or repeat things because you’ll get caught out very easily.”

Bajaj

He has also worked with international directors shooting commercials in

India and often their perception of India as exotica has a role to play in

the kind of films they make. “I shot an ad for HSBC which required the

ambience of a dance shoot with a fort façade as the backdrop. They

wanted 200 dancers and elephants and a grand feel to the images. It

was fun doing that too.”

But he continues to be selective about his scripts and directors. “I work

with directors like Prakash Verma, Vinil Mathew, Rajesh Krishnan, who

wait for good scripts and shoot on their own terms. I’ve also shot ads

with Raju (Rajkumar) Hirani and we’ve worked on two feature films

together. It’s nice working with the same directors again because the

tuning is set and it becomes that much easier.”

Muraleedharan is now preparing to shoot Agent Vinod for Shriram

Raghavan and once he immerses himself in the film it’ll be goodbye to

advertising for some time, yet again. “My ad film directors are used to

my ways now. They know that I’m only available if there’s no feature film

underway. I can’t do both things simultaneously.”

Cadbury's

Keeping up

with the

TIMES

In this interaction with R.G. Vijayasarathy, DOP R. Giri talks about his career

and the changing trends in the cinematography today.

He is always cool and composed. Being a veteran director of cine-

matography in the Kannada film industry, R.Giri can command a lot

of attention, but he is always a low profile man, just concentrating

on his work. But his work speaks for him. Recently he made news by

working on a film, Sugreeva, which was shot in just 18 hours creating

a record of sorts in the Kannada film industry.

He has worked for several big projects including the hugely success-

ful films like Budhdhivantha, Anna Thangi, Tavarige Baa Thangi,

Maharaja, Veerappa Nayaka and many others. His other films

include Raavana, Devaru Kotta Thangi, Bhagyadha Balegaara, Mohini,

Shubham, Thipparalli Tharlegalu and Bindaas Hudugi. Giri has really

made an impact with his craft and innovative shot takings. He

believes that discipline and hard work are the most important fac-

tors for progress in the career of cinematographer.

Sugreeva

D e s p i t e w o r k i n g i n m a n y

Kannada films and with all the

big directors and superstars you

remain aloof from the limelight.

Why do you remain low profile

always?

I normally shun all film parties

and also the pre-release press

meets of films. What is the use

in talking about our own work

before the release of any film? I

think the cinematographer’s job

has to be analyzed by the people

and the film fraternity after the

release of the film. Our work

should speak for us and I believe

that any amount of trumpeting

your achievements in press

meets will not bring in laurels,

though it may boost your ego a

bit. The appreciation your work

receives in media and also by

fans after watching the film is

more important than media

coverage. I respect the reviews

more than what my colleagues

working with me in films would

tell me about my work. I will

normally disassociate myself

f r o m a n y p r e - p u b l i c i t y

campaigns mainly because my

job is to just translate the vision

of a director on screen and the

film is just a reflection of a

director’s concept.

But every artiste and technician

thinks he is a commodity in

today’s competitive world and

wants to promote himself?

Don’t you feel isolated in this

marketing blitz?

I don’t think the people who are

so conscious about films will

accept whatever is said in press

meets. Louis Armstrong, one of

the greatest exponents of Jazz,

is believed to have said, “If you

cannot blow your own trumpet,

who else will?” But I think

Armstrong, being a genius, must

have said it in jest. Even his

achievements were appreciated

by music lovers and were not

analyzed in the background of

the statements made by him. I

don’t think I have been isolated

in this industry as every film

personality knows that I am

greatly skilled and I have my

work in films to prove that I can

be trusted.

Raavana

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Your recent film Sugreeva was shot in just

18 hours and is discussed for its planning,

execution and detailed homework. How was

this hard task accomplished?

I think Sugreeva will be a memorable film for

all the people who were associated with it

including the spot boys who had worked for it.

It was a victory for team work and the

artistes, technicians and workers in the

Kannada film industry showed that they can

plan and execute well to make a reasonably

good film, which can be interesting for the

audience for more than two hours. Sugreeva

had 10 film directors and 10 cinemato-

graphers working in tandem. I had worked

with film director Pramod Chakravarthy with

whom I share a good rapport. I had earlier

worked under his direction in a comedy film

called Golmaal which is yet to be released. I

had also worked as cinematographer in many

films produced by his brother Sheshu

Chakravarthy. We had nearly 18 sequences to

be shot in the main hall of Raja Rajeshwari

Hospital where the entire film was shot. We

started shooting for the film at six a.m. on

October 11, 2009 and finished our shooting

just 10 minutes before 12.00 p.m. on the same

day. Clearly it was a big achievement!

Budhdhivantha

Budhdhivantha

Can you briefly tell us about your background

and how you were drafted into films?

Frankly I am not that well educated and was

not trained in any film institute. I just worked

under cameraman-director Dinesh Babu in

my younger days. I learnt all the basics

working under him and his then assistant

P.K.H. Doss, who is himself an accomplished

cinematographer now. Working with Babu sir

was more than attending a training workshop.

He would use available equipments and also

shoot in existing light to get the best frames.

And he would also work with greater speed.

Both Babu and Doss were perfect in choosing

the lighting pattern for a particular sequence. I

think cinematographers can make a great

impact by using very ordinary equipment if

they can perfectly do the lighting work. Then I

got the first break to work as an independent

cinematographer in the film Nighatha which

was directed by my brother-in-law S.Narayan

who had also become a film producer with

that film. The film was shot in hilly areas and

also in some inaccessible terrain. We used to

go to the interiors with all the equipment and

shoot the film. It was a good experience. Later

on I worked with S.Narayan in many films,

after which I was drafted to work by other film

directors. Now, I am working again with my

brother-in-law for the big budget film Veera

Parampare which will have two big artistes like

Sudeep and Ambareesh.

Devaru Kotta Thangi

“I think Kodak is the most

trusted brand for any film

cinematographer today.”

What were some of the big challenges you had

faced during your career?

A film like Shubham was really a challenge. In

Lava Kusha which had two superstars like

Shivaraj Kumar and Upendra working for it, I

had to shoot some of the action sequences in

a limited time frame. The stunt choreographer

had done his homework and was ready with

his shots, but I had to make arrangements for

the lighting at a brisk speed. I was able to get

things right and the action sequences in the

film were much appreciated. Budhdhivantha

was another film which was memorable

because we had to shoot the songs in China

and also in Himalayas in extremely difficult

situations. Frankly there are many of them,

but I can not recount those things

immediately.

As a cinematographer you must have seen

many changes in filmmaking trends… what is

your take on these recent changes in the

industry?

In a way I think every film is a challenge in

these days when explosion of talent is seen in

today’s films. Also new innovations and new

type of cameras and equipments are hitting

the market. And well-educated trained talents

are being introduced in the camera

department. Cinematographers of today need

to learn more about all the new inventions,

equipments and even the new trends that are

seen in films today. We are seeing today how

digital cameras are entering the fray and we

can find even established film directors like

Kamal Haasan using Red cameras. There are

many Kannada filmmakers who are using the

other forms of digital cameras. I think the new

technology is spreading its wings very fast

and cinematographers should know the

contemporary trends in the industry.

You are normally using the Kodak negatives..

why this particular brand?

I think Kodak is the most trusted brand for

any film cinematographer today.

Painting Pradip Chakraborty tells Malabi Sen

Painting with

Musolmanir Galpo

How did the journey into movies take off?

Painting

Towards the end of 1975 I worked under V. Balasaheb as an assistant, and then under Dilipranjan

Mukherjee. I assisted Manmohan Singh also. In 1986 my father died and I shifted to Kolkata. My

work as independent cinematographer started in 1988, with Dr. Swapan Saha working in his film,

Chandrabati Katha. I worked with Ratan Adhikary in his films Shakti, Jibantrishna, Parichay, Anurag,

Apan Halo Par; Premee directed by Bikash Banerjee. I also worked with Salilmoy Ghosh in his film

Ekti Meye Tamasi. Now I am shooting Pranab Choudhury’s film Ekti Musolmanir Galpo, based on

Rabindranath Tagore’s story.

Did you come across the demarcation between art or parallel cinema?

There can only be a good, well-made film and a badly made film. No other line of demarcation

exists, if I may say so. In this context, I can recall, we were shooting a film Aanchal starring Amol

Palekar in Mumbai, he was also saying he does not believe in art film per se, a film can be either

good or bad. Technically all films are the same where the actual job of filmmaking is concerned. In

art cinema you get less intercutting, the emphasis is on storytelling, it is much less jerky to the

eyes. For commercial movies, the ‘commerce’ part is much more important, getting the money back

that is invested in making the film remains all important to the producer rather than thinking in

terms of quality. The money counting starts even before shooting commences. I still remember

with affection a film of mine that was left incomplete, called Jibanjapan directed by Sauren Basu.

Only three or five days of shooting was left when work got stalled due to unavoidable

circumstances. In that film my work was compared to one of my gurus, Saumendu Roy, I felt very

elated then, but the film has been left incomplete all these years.

Light

Sauren had stressed at every point the mood of the scene, the visual treatment when a guy goes

out for work in the morning and the afternoon when the womenfolk staying at home are taking a bit

of nap has an altogether different treatment visually, lighting-wise or whichever way you look at it.

Sauren stressed not only mood, but also the colour temperature to be used of the raw stock. In the

afternoon just before sunset we used 2000K, the orange tone of light we get, then Sauren tried to

visualize it. A thousand pities this film could not be completed. It is my bad luck as a

cinematographer. For a director a film is like a child unborn, in its process of making.

Musolmanir Galpo

that he does not let problems

affect the quality of his work.

Pradip Chakraborty wanted to become

an artist and get admitted into the

Government Art College in Kolkata.

But the paucity of funds held him back.

So, he decided to do a three-year still

photography course at the Jadavpur Insti-

tute of Printing Technology.

On completing this course he left for

Mumbai, and with the help of famous art

director, Sudhendu Roy, found a place at

Natraj Studios as an observer under great

cinematographer V.K. Murthy and others

like G. Singh, A.G. Prabhakar,

Alok Dasgupta and Bipin Gajjar.

“Photography

is the platform,

cinematography

is the look and eye

of the film.”

Musolmanir Galpo

9


10

Do you get the equipment and stock you

want?

We suffer a lot. Availability of good lenses to a

good quality camera harangues us always.

The lens is the eye of the camera, the lens is

prime. What we get here is for me a third

hand camera, not even second hand!

Supposing we could get Panavision cameras,

it would have been great. Some Arri 4s have

come into the market, but the lenses are still

old. Getting a good lab is also a problem. The

standard of Kodak Image Lab out there in

Mumbai is a dream for us, we cannot afford to

do our processing there due to stiff budgetary

constraints. Bengali films suffer due to budget

as the market is only regional and hence

limited. If you have a good director with

excellent technical concepts, the results are

bound to be good. But that is, a bit rare, I

might say. Here mostly the production

manager takes up all the responsibilities, and

force us to work not exactly up to the mark.

Supposing you have a three-storey house, the

light cannot be thrown up to the second

storey even. Equipments are a major problem

for me. Once I asked for a 16 mm camera, but

it gave me soft focus. 16 mm is more difficult

than 35 mm, when blown up to 35 mm the

focus goes out. Photography is the platform,

cinematography is the look and eye of the

film.”

For me 100ASA-EXR or Extended Range is a

favourite, I use 5219 500T — very good

contrast film with excellent latitude, I can use

differing filters in this Kodak stock both for

indoors and outdoors. I use mostly Tungsten

films, I am yet to use Daylight stocks, they are

a bit risky for indoors, I must use a blue filter

which would decrease the speed, conversion

gets difficult.

“I insist on using

Kodak stock for its

rich, golden tone.

It brings out

magnificently the skin

tones of an actor,

I can freely play

with light and shade

with Kodak stock ”

Musolmanir Galpo

I insist on using Kodak stock for its rich, golden tone. It brings out magnificently the skin tones of an

actor, I can freely play with light and shade with Kodak stock. In one case, I was shooting using

cinemascope, which creates problems with lenses as it is. But since I was using Kodak stock I could

work very smoothly, that way Kodak has no parallel.

About Day for Night I am yet to use it — lot of lights would be needed which is a waste in our

shoestring budget here. Many mathematical problems would have to be worked out, the night sky

we see is deep, one has to look out for the exposure, the sky can have 8, the face of the actor 4,

then sky must be done one stop under.

Normally after 4 p.m. daylight keeps decreasing fast, reflected light decreases with it. I try to finish

within 4 p.m. Some directors draw the shooting after 4 or 5 p.m. even, no sky glare is there. I do not

like working in this kind of time. Artificial lights do not match with daylight and the mismatch can

be detected.

For me, mood lighting is all important, in Ratan Adhikary’s film there was a night-scene, I enquired

about the time, he said about 2 to 2.30 p.m. at night. Then inside the room may be only the night

lamp would remain as source, outside spill light from streetlights in a verandah outside. Many

directors discuss all this in detail with me.

In a film called Khannan there were white-washed walls to be shot. I made the art director Samir

Kundu make four different whites on the walls, on which I did the lighting, each using a different

pattern. Inside the room cross lighting is essential to avert reflected light coming from the white

walls. 5219 500T is my favourite stock.

Is Cube projection an answer to bad projection?

Cube loses all details in long-throw long shots or even panoramic views. Mid or close shot is okay.

Due to monetary problems my answer is analog which I prefer most. I can control the shot

compositions etc. all in the final print. Dilipranjan Mukherjee used to say it is better to be abused by

one inside the sets than be abused by lakhs on screen. He insisted on quality camerawork.

What about low-key shots?

For low-key, the negative thins out, I prefer mid-key.

And the actors' skin tones?

When I was working with make-up artistes like Debi Haldar, I used to tell them to give an orange

touch to fair skins, on blackish skin no make-up at all. I have seen artistes of the stature of Shashi

Kapoor and Jeetendra or Rakesh Roshan or Rajendra Kumar not using much make-up at all.

Where Black and White is concerned, I did only one documentary by Bibek Banerjee called

Kidnapped, it was very tough controlling the grey scales. People, after using Black and White once,

feel they have to learn lots more.

Musolmanir Galpo

“ The

DOP should be

Amal Neerad was preparing for the shoot

of his third feature, Anwar,

when K B Venu met him at Kochi.

like a meek wife ”

Amal Neerad carved his niche as a stylish cinematographer and filmmaker, armed with his excellent academic background as an alumnus of

the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and an unflinching commitment to mainstream cinema. Amal’s diploma film won the national

award for best cinematographer in the short feature section. Later he stayed in Berlin for two years as part of an exchange programme and

made a short film called Fourth World. Before starting his career as a filmmaker Amal had his stint as cinematographer with the Varma Corpora-

tion. Both the Malayalam feature films he directed were commercial hits and had attracted the young audience in the State.

How did your passion for films begin

sprouting?

Right from high school days my dream was to

join for direction course at the FTII. The year I

graduated from Maharaja’s College,

Ernakulam, was a zero admission year at FTII.

So I started doing my post graduation. Again,

the next year also was a zero year in the

Institute. At that time, the Satyajit Ray Film

and Television Institute had started

functioning in Kolkata and I joined its first

batch as a student of cinematography.

W h y d i d y o u j o i n a s a s t u d e n t o f

cinematography?

I had in fact applied for the direction course.

At that time, the film institutes in the country

had insisted that students of cinematography

and editing should possess a degree in

science. History was my subject for

graduation. But a science degree was optional

according to the SRFTI rules. I had a stint as a

still photographer during my college days and

won several accolades in youth festivals for

photography. I had some stills with me when I

appeared for the interview. The board,

comprising of stalwarts of the Satyajit Ray era

were impressed by those stills. They advised

me to opt for cinematography and I agreed.

Perhaps I am the first ever cinematography

student in the country without a science

degree, to study in a national film institute. I

had won a National Award for best

cinematographer for my diploma film, Meena

Jha, in the short feature section. At that time,

there was a German exchange programme

going on. As part of the programme, I went to

Berlin along with a direction student in the

SRFTI. We spent two years there and did a

short film called Fourth World. I wrote the

script and wielded camera for the film. It was

shot in 35 mm format and was shown in

several film festivals across the country.

Why did you go to Bollywood before entering

the Malayalam industry?

My decision was to work in Malayalam films.

In fact I was determined not to migrate to

Bollywood. Most of the students passing out

from national film institutes chose to work in

other languages, especially Hindi. They went

to Mumbai either from Pune or from Kolkata. I

had some regional spirits when I passed out

from the Institute. I spent two years in Kerala,

waiting for chances to work in Malayalam

films. Though I had two short films to my

credit, one a National Award winner and the

other made in Berlin, nobody showed any

interest in me. Many directors appreciated my

showreel but there was no space for me in

their films. They said the producers were not

interested in experimenting with a new

cinematographer. But since I was active in

making advertisement films, I had no financial

problems. By October 2003, I got a call from a

director belonging to the Varma Corporation

who had watched my diploma film. I sent him

the showreel. Since Ram Gopal Varma was

the producer of the film, the next day itself I

got the flight ticket. I went to Mumbai and did

the film James with them. Then came the

Malayalam film Black, directed by Ranjith. I

came to Kerala almost like a cinematographer

belonging to the Bollywood, did the film and

went back. I worked two more films for Varma

Corporation—Darna Zaroori Hain and Shiva.

Then came your directorial debut, Big B…

It was because of Mammootty who was doing

the lead role in Black that I could do my first

film. While I was shooting for Black, I was not

aware of the norms of the Malayalam film

industry and was not very close to the hero.

However, after this film, it was Mammootty

himself who expressed willingness to listen to

a script if I had one to narrate. At that time

Varma Corporation had asked me to direct a

film for them. But I chose to work this project

with Mammootty because I wanted to do my

debut film in that kind of a space. Mammootty

is the only star in Malayalam who provides a

comfortable working space for a debutant

director. The entire crew comprise fresh

hands — the director, scriptwriter,

cinematographer, editor, costume designer,

poster designer… almost everyone in the

technical crew were debutants. We all got this

opportunity because Mammootty was willing

to work with such a team.

11


12

Stills from Anwar

Your films belong to the mainstream category and exhibit offbeat

trends. What were your influences as a student of cinema?

I used to watch all kinds of movies right from my school days. A

mainstream Tamil movie and Antichrist by Lars von Trier can impart

equal amount of excitement to me. I was a member of the Cochin Film

Society, which screened a number of classic movies. And, there was a

video library called Video House in Ernakulam which had almost all

volumes of Bergman, Visconti, Godard and Bunuel. That way I was an

avid film watcher right from the VHS era. Even after joining the Institute,

I used to go out to the theatres every second or third day though there

were regular screening on the campus and the school had a vast video

library.

So you do not differentiate between the genres?

I had always tried to escape from being branded as an intellectual

filmmaker. That is how mainstream cinema and public usually consider

film institute products. That cap will become a handicap when they

enter the mainstream industry. I believe in the power and brilliance of

mainstream cinema. I will tell you an example. Any other director can

plan a different film with the subject of the next film I am making. I

mean, the same theme can be converted into an art house type movie. I

have seen the kind of crowd in Nandan theatre in Kolkota. I will not be

excited if my film is received by that kind of an audience only. I don’t

want to entertain those people. I can very well sit with them and talk

about great films. I want to be part of popular cinema and communicate

to the masses.

What is your new film Anwar all about?

Anwar is different from my previous films. My first two films had their

thrust in cinematic elements. They were cinematic from the very first

shot. Anwar is going to deal with a more realistic and contemporary

issue. At the same time, I have no plan and intention to preach anything

to the masses. I want to prove that many “rights” and many “wrongs”

exist in our world. The concept of right and wrong is never the same for

different people. The main characters in my movie belong to different

realities and have separate concepts of truth. Anwar is all about the

evolution of these characters. And, I want it to be an absolutely

commercial movie.

You are a trained cinematographer. But you employ others to wield

camera for your films. Is it because you believe more in donning the

mantle of director?

That may be my way of taking revenge. (Laughs) After coming from

SRFTI I had spent two years here with the hope of becoming a

cinematographer in Malayalam movies. I have grown up watching

Stills from Anwar

excellent cinematographers like Venu and Santosh Sivan.

Cinematographers from Kerala still have that legacy. In Mumbai,

Malayali cinematographers have a place of their own. It is almost like

bearing an ISI mark. I still remember Bharathan’s Thazhvaram and

Padmarajan’s Innale, both cinematographed by Venu, released almost

simultaneously in my city. According to me that is the ultimate

versatility in cinematography. Those films were different from each

other. I do not believe that the cinematographer should have his

signature in cinema. That is the reason why I like Innale and

Thazhvaram. You will never say that these films were cinematographed

by the same person. The cinematographer must behave like a meek and

obedient wife who can help in the progress of materializing the director’s

vision of the film.

A number of film school educated Malayali technicians, mostly

cinematographers, go to Bollywood and other filmmaking lands after

trying their luck in Malayalam cinema. That had caused deterioration in

the quality of cinematography in Malayalam at a particular period. I will

be very happy if ten new cinematographers come up in Malayalam

because of my films. The historic significance of my first film, Big B, is

that it had an altogether fresh crew. Usually when a director makes his

debut, the technical crew will consist of experienced hands. But it was

the vision of a handful of newcomers that made all the difference in Big

B. Like any other part of the country, there are fresh cinematic talents in

Kerala too. Given hope, care, space and technical assistance these

youngsters too can work as excellently as the technicians we import

from other industries providing luxurious facilities. For me, a first time

cinematographer who is willing to do anything for his maiden venture is

more acceptable than some one who is established in the industry. Even

I don’t want to be a professional cinematographer. It is like doing any

other ordinary job. Satheesh Kurup, the cinematographer of my new

venture, spent an entire month for location hunt. I won’t get a

professional cinematographer to do this job for me.

How do you view the advent of state of the art gadgets and devices in

cinematography?

I believe in the strength of celluloid despite the advent of digital

technology in different formats. My first film was shot in super 16. The

next one was shot in Super 35 mm. But in Anwar, I am using a mix of four

formats. As for the stock, I have used only Kodak. I am a hundred per

cent orthodox Kodak believer right from the film school days. I propose

to use their Vision 3 for Anwar. Even for the advertisement films I shoot, I

use Kodak. It gives the satisfaction of portraying Indian skin tones to

near perfection. I am a cinematographer who insists on printing in Kodak

positive itself.

Ravi Yadav has certainly

created a record. His direc-

torial debut Maro Charitra is

the first movie in the Telugu

industry to have director who

is also the cinematographer.

“A Finger in

Every Pie”

What is your current movie

Maro Charitra about?

Every movie buff in India must

have heard and seen Ek Duuje Ke

Liye. Maro Charitra of 1978 is the

original Telugu movie, directed

by veteran K. Balachander which

was made later made as Ek

Duuje Ke Liye. It was one of the

biggest hits of Telugu cinema

and is among the best romantic

movies of all times.

As I was passing through Times

Square in New York a few years

ago, I suddenly had a brainwave:

What if we could shoot an

emotional scene or song about

two Indian lovers here? That

thought became a fire and I

decided to debut as a director

with this great love story. That is

why I chose Maro Charitra as the

base and developed a similar

story. Only this time, the lovers

are based in the US and it is a

‘now’ generation movie.

I h a v e a l s o d o n e t h e

cinematography for the movie. It

was an astounding experience

to be the director and drive the

movie ahead and also be the

cinematographer and give my

thoughts a vision. It was all so

surreal.

Normally, any other director

would have asked me why I

chose to shoot from a particular

angle or direction. I would have

to explain, even defend, and

perhaps give up on it, even if I am

convinced it works out great for

the movie. This time, I just went

ahead and tried a lot of shots

that I have always wanted to.

As a cinematographer, can you

tell us a few technical aspects

about Maro Charitra?

I shot the entire movie in super

35 format using subdued,

minimal and almost nil lighting

throughout the movie. I shot the

entire movie only one stock –

Kodak 200 ASA 5217 stocks. I

used an Arri Master Prime lens

with three perforations. I have

used so less lighting in some

shots that even those in the

industry will be zapped. I have

never used even a single direct

light; but opted for soft, diffused

light – atmospheric, mood

lighting to bring out the

emotions. We shot for 90 days

across four countries.

I personally liked the scene

where we shot a 360 degree

scene around a house in Dubai.

The house did not have space

Even after having worked as a

cinematographer for Hindi,

Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and

M a l a y a l a m , e v e n a n

occasional English movie,

Yadav is still not content. He

wants more.

Ravi Yadav talks to Manju Latha Kalanidhi about his dreams and ambitions.

“I know that

Kodak reproduces

my vision

impeccably.”

around it for camera navigation,

but it was crucial that we run

the camera around the house. It

was very dark and we could not

place lights because of lack of

space. I used the shadows of the

dark light to bring out the scene.

I also love the opening shot of

the movie where we used a

helicopter about 200 ft above

the ground for a grand shot. The

shot at Niagara Falls also is

among my favourites.

Since we were working on a low

budget and a super small crew,

it was important to keep costs

low while still making the

product rich and on a bigger

canvas. Perhaps, being a

cinematographer really helped

me as I could choose my

l o c a t i o n s w i t h o u t m u c h

difficulty. I chose New York for

its sheer vibrancy which

13


14

translates equally vibrantly on

screen, Las Vegas for its glitz

and Dubai for its profundity. By

showing good wisdom in the

choice of places, we could easily

c u t c o s t s o n l a v i s h a n d

expensive sets.

Is it true that the crew was less

than 20?

Kodak’s versatility gives me the freedom

to shoot the scene at my own pace.”

Yes, we are a crew of 17 and that

is certainly a record. Typically,

most Telugu movies of this

budget have about 100 or so.

Surprisingly, it was not just me

who doubled up as a DOP and a

director, but everybody took on

e x t ra ro l e s . Th e c a m e ra

assistant willing became a

camera operator and so on. The

chief assistant director Arun

Prasad did everything from

running around to impromptu

improvisations. So did the co-

director Nirmal Roy.

How do you keep yourself

updated in your profession?

I visit a lot of trade shows

abroad. I recently went for a

show in Amsterdam. Such

shows display the latest

equipment and techniques and I

get to meet experts in the field. I

also pore over the literature and

research extensively on the Net

about my equipment. I am

theory-first-practice-next guy. I

do my homework before every

shot.

Maro Charitra

What was Kodak’s role in your

movie making experiment?

Kodak’s versatility gives me the

freedom to shoot the scene at

my own pace. Whether I

underexpose or overexpose, I

know that Kodak reproduces my

vision impeccably. I have worked

on Kodak on 24 of my 25

movies.

Tell us about your background

and your entry into movies.

I am a Telugu who spent a major

part of my growing up years at

Chennai. My passion for movies

made me discontinue my

Bachelors degree in Science at

t h e p r e s t i g i o u s M a d r a s

Christian College and enroll

myself at the Madras Film

Institute.

I did not seriously assist

anybody after my filmmaking

course. I hung around the sets of

Chembarti and after a few

Maro Charitra

months of being with Rajeev

Menon, I got my first break with

Pudiya Vanam in 1987. I have

done about 25 movies so far in

H i n d i , Tam i l , M a l aya l a m ,

Kannada and even in English. I

enjoyed working for big ticket

cinemas such as Race, 36 China

Town, Socha Na Tha and Aitraaz.

In Telugu, I worked for the award

winning movie Show. I have shot

over 100 ad films including the

Hyundai Verna ad. Now, I wanted

to get a little deeper into

moviemaking and have decided

to direct a movie. Eventually, I

want to write scripts, do the

screenplay, work behind the

camera and direct it. I want my

finger in every pie.

What is your next project?

Maro Charitra

I am working for the Akshay

Kumar starrer titled Thank You

and directed by Anees Bazmee.

Manoj Paramahamsa may be just three

films old but the industry can’t stop raving

about this young DOP’s work. From creat-

ing a world of dark grey tones for the

thriller Eeram, to shifting to a complete

contrast of white for Vinnai Thandi

Varuvaya, he has succeeded in establish-

ing himself as a force to reckon with.

“My entry into the film industry was

scheduled; my father Babu is a director and

decided that, but I got to choose which area I

would enter. I accompanied him on shootings

ever since I was in the seventh standard and

at that time, cameras were a big mystery. Dad

worked with big cinematographers who also

happened to be his classmates, they were

very close to me. B. Kannan had done a lot for

Dad and as I watched with interest, they

decided I would be a cameraman.

“I was never interested in writing and

preferred the technical side. I joined the Film

Institute at Chennai and everything I thought

about cinema changed. I wanted to go to

Mumbai, but did not want me to struggle the

way he did when he entered the industry. It

was then I got an opportunity to work with

DOP Saravanan with whom I worked from

2001 to 2007 on nearly 15 films and almost

all were hard core commercial films.

“One day I received a call from Manikantan,

my friend and director Gautham Menon’s

associate. He had recommended me for a film

and I was asked to shoot a scene for

Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam. A fairly simple

shot with wet roads on which four youngsters

SHAD E

“The shutter was kept fully

were walking. The first take was as usual but

in the second take I tilted the camera down

and captured the action of their feet stepping

over wet stones. When I said “Cut,” Gautham

was very excited because I had canned

something he never asked me to do, yet suited

the concept and he appreciated me a lot.”

Director Arivazhagan of Eeram along with

Manikantan had been his room mate. They

had spent a lot of time together and discussed

films and they knew about Manoj’s talent.

Arivazhagan was working with director

Shankar. He wanted to do a scratch film for

Eeram and Manoj shot a trailer on a handicam

and showed it to Shankar who was impressed

with it.

open and we used eye

adjustment and simply trusted

Kodak. Kodak gave us

the eerie effect

and consistency.”

S

of Dreams

Divya K goes into

creative details

with DOP

Manoj Paramahamsa

“We prepared everything for the film six

months ahead of shooting including the

complete script and full storyboard,” he

recalls. “We spent a long time finding a grey

apartment for the film as it plays a key role.

We were given permission for just 12 hours to

shoot the entire night sequence and we used

just one light. I used 5219 for the night and

climax and 5217 for the rest of the film.

“When I started Eeram, there were two things

I wanted to be very sure about, one was stock

because of the black and where it was going

to be processed. I wanted Rama Naidu Lab, a

Kodak certified lab who could reproduce the

black I wanted. They recommended 5217 and

they gave me tips on handling that. The

shutter was kept fully open and we used eye

adjustment and simply trusted Kodak.

Whether the look was bright or deep, we

knew that Kodak’s latitude would support us,

even up to five stops underexposure, we knew

the details would be there. Kodak gave us the

eerie effect and consistency.

Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya

15


16

“In Eeram, we have used HDRI imaging,

something that has not been done so far in

Indian graphics. When I heard the script, I

decided the CG effects needs and wanted the

water movement to be in our control. Normally,

the reason CG portions do not look authentic is

that they cannot match the contrast ratio on the

shooting floor. We gave Indian Artists, our CG

team, a very good reference. A highly reflective

silver ball was placed wherever the CG was to

appear and was underexposed 10 stops and

also overexposed 10 stops. This gave us the

maximum highlight and maximum shadow and

we gave this reference to our CG artists. The

water simulation took six to seven months.

“We needed motion control but the budget

would not permit us to hire rigs for this so we

made our own solution. After taking a shot,

we would record on Nagra. Then we would

make markers and then take the next shot in

sync. That way, whenever high end equipment

was needed and we could not afford it, we

made our own creative solutions.

“The DI processed songs in

Kodak Labs which gave me

consistency and even grain

“The director did not want to see sunlight

anywhere in the film so we canned master

shots before sunrise. We also used a heavy

frost diffuser which we had specially

imported. And when we happened to shoot in

sunlight, it gave us an overcast feel and evenly

diffused shadows which would have been lost

in a normal diffuser.

structure.”

“Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya was a complete

contrast to Eeram. I was surprised that

Gautham Menon wanted whites and this was

challenging. He said it’s a conversational love

story but not colourful as its an authentic

story and I don’t want it cinematic. He gave

me a lot freedom and lot of time for lighting.

“We mostly shot in a white house upstairs and

downstairs where the hero and heroine lived

respectively. We also shot a 450-year-old

church in Alleppey. The major songs were shot

in Malta where the houses are all off white.

The costumes were also white in the film.

“If you diffuse white with white it gets pale so

we used sunlight for 80 per cent of the film

and you can feel it. When we lost ambient

light we used a heavy light to simulate

sunlight. The sun was kept in the camera and

shot from the opposite angle which brought in

plenty of overexposure, we have captured the

brightest spot to the shadows in one shot. We

also used a lot of cut lights and shadows

within frame contrast.

“I used a lot of 5205 and then Kodak launched

5207, an enhancement and this really helped

achieve what I wanted to. We desaturated the

colours in DI, this enhanced the whites and

removed 50 per cent of the colours. Since the

locations are glossy many do not realize this. I

had no tones in the film and instead kept it

had neutral as I wanted it to feel real with a

breezy look. The DI processed songs in Kodak

Labs which gave me consistency and even

grain structure.

“On of the most challenging shots was when

the hero goes to see the heroine in the middle

of the night at a place set against the

backwaters. There was no light source.. and

we had to place the helium light in the water

and this was our main source light, the rest

were tiny serial lights. The wind was heavy,

yet we had to ensure that it would not move.

It cost around Rs 2.5- 3 lakhs just for this light

per day and this is probably the first time it

has been used in Tamil cinema.

“The hero Simbu looks different because his

hairstyle and less makeup make him look

fresh. Normally, the hero is given enhanced

lighting, but here we did not do special for

him. There is one shot where the hero and

heroine are lighted just with the headlamp of

a car complete with red tint. It was five stops

underexposed and it’s a Kodak shot! The film

was shot in Telugu too and titled Ne Mayu

Chesthaney. It was similar to the Tamil version

except for certain locations. We improved the

visual quality.

“I am currently working in an untitled film

with Gautham Menon starring Sameera

Reddy. I want to do good cinema. I would like

to move to Bollywood and then world

cinema.”

Stills from Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya

Anil Nair is enjoying his second innings in films. Starting his career in movies as an assis-

tant with Ravi K. Chandran, Nair became an independent cinematographer and worked for

couple of films. Then he turned to the television medium and became a prominent DOP in

teleserials. After spending a decade as a television cameraman, he came back to films with

two successful hits, Ivar Vivahitharayal and Happy Husbands. Now he has completed his

latest work with Joshi, one of the most prominent directors in Malayalam industry.

How did you start your career as a

cinematographer?

I was a still photographer covering marriage

f u n c t i o n s b e f o r e v e n t u r i n g a s a

cinematographer. While doing my graduation

in mathematics I used to cover functions in

the college. After completing my graduation, I

became a full-time still photographer. Then I

became an assistant of Rameshkumar,

cameraman in the Chitranjali Studio at

Thiruvananthapuram. He was involved mainly

in shooting documentary films. After that,

when I had a desire to work in movies director

Priyadarshan recommended me to Ravi K.

Chandran and I became his assistant. Kabhi

Na Kabhi was my first film with him.

Anil Nair shares

the ups and downs

in his career

with K.B. Venu.

Second

Time

at the box-office.

Lucky

Priyadarshan’s Virasat and Shaji Kailas’ The

King were the important films on which I

worked with him. I spent two years with

Chandran. Then Sree Shanker, when he

became an independent cinematographer,

invited me to join him as an associate. I

worked on about 15 films with him. In 1999,

after working for four years as an associate, I

became an independent cinematographer

with the film My Dear Karadi, directed by

Sandhya Mohan. But that film was not a

success at the box-office. I did two more films

and they too met with the same fate. Then

Baiju Devaraj, a serial director, invited me to

work with him. The serial, Sthreejanmam, was

a mega hit and I got the Film Critics’ Award

for the work. I was in television serials for the

next seven years. All were mega serials on

leading television channels. I became friends

with Saji Surendran when he directed the

serial Alippazham. Then we worked together

for six more serials. In the meanwhile, director

Jose Thomas invited me for the film Youth

Festival. I did the film and it too was a failure

Why didn’t you try your luck in films again

immediately after that?

I preferred to stay with the television industry

then. Once again I went back to the world of

serials. While shooting the serial Ammakkayi,

our team consisting of Saji Surendran and

Krishna Poojappura resolved to take up a film

project. That was how the film Ivar

Vivahitharayal directed by Saji Surendran

happened. Krishna Poojappura was the

scriptwriter. The film was a success and my

work as a cinematographer caught the

attention of the public and the industry. Then I

got the opportunity to be part of Kerala Café,

a collection of ten short films by different

directors under the leadership of Ranjith. I

worked with Padmakumar who directed the

first segment in the film. Then came Happy

Husbands, directed by Saji and written by

Krishna. While engaged in the grading of this

film, I got a call from director Joshi. That is

how I happened to do his latest movie,

Christian Brothers, starring Mohan Lal.

Your training as a cinematographer was on

the job. You were not trained in any film

17


18

notable movies because of this. I didn’t go

asking for breaks. In fact I was identified

better in television serials. I got six awards in a

row as the best teleserial cinematographer.

Eventually I began to approach my work in a

serious way. I was not that serious with my

earlier film projects. I did things according to

my conviction. I began to experiment with

lighting patterns and other ingredients in

teleserial shooting. That was how I managed

to become prominent as a television serial

DOP. My experience in television serials for

almost a decade imparted confidence in me,

when I started my second innings in films with

Ivar Vivahitharayal.

You started your apprenticeship under Ravi K,

Chandran and still you couldn’t excel in your

earlier works?

I believe that a cinematographer alone cannot

produce excellent results. He must get

support from various corners. The director’s

involvement is the most important factor. The

director must be a person with a fair

knowledge about the different aspects of

c i n e m a t o g r a p h y . O n l y t h e n t h e

cinematographer can work effectively. It is

also important to have fine equipment and

comfortable working atmosphere. All the

films in the first phase of my career were

completed in shoestring budgets. I got only

2C camera and never used a fine stock like

Kodak. I couldn’t work properly and the

subjects were not treated well. As a result,

those films flopped in all aspects and my work

went unnoticed.

When did you actually start using Kodak?

I started using Kodak in my second innings in

films. When we planned to do Ivar

Vivahitharayal, the very first thing I had

insisted on was using Kodak. The producer,

who was a relative of the screenplay writer,

never interfered in our work. He was

concerned only about the quality of the

movie. The process of making that film had

the spirit of teamwork.

What is the advantage you find in working

with Kodak?

Kodak is a reliable stock. Watching my latest

work, Happy Husbands, director Viji Thampi

telephoned Saji Surendran and asked whether

we had done DI on the whole film.

That is definitely an appreciation and

acknowledgment for my work. I was afraid of

the bad results in projection because there are

UFO and Cube projections too. But the film

covered all the shortcomings in the exhibition

system and gave good results in theaters. I

think the stock had a major role to play in this

achieving this excellent result.

A majority of the cinematographers here

complain about the inferior quality of theatres

and projection system. How do you evaluate

this situation?

Our theatres are not maintained properly. To

ensure high quality of the print, the

cinematographer, director and producer

should work well in advance. We got the first

print of Happy Husbands one week before the

release of the movie. I got enough time to

correct the print. For UFO, I made correction

in the negative itself, shot by shot. Many

theaters here do not follow the rules and

maintain the conditions required for UFO

projection. As a result, the spectators get

imperfect images on the screen. This system

must be standardized as early as possible.

The organizations working in the field must

take initiatives in executing this.

In short, you believe in taking care of your

work until the print is out.

Of course, yes. The cinematographer, director

and the producer should watch the first print

of the film in a theater and ensure its quality.

There are people who complain of poor

projection in theaters even after ensuring

excellent result in the laboratory. That is really

a sad situation. This can be avoided only if the

makers of the film take some precaution.

To what extent can the quality of the print and

projection be improved?

We will not be able to do anything once the

p r i n t s r e a c h t h e t h e a t e r s . T h e

cinematographer can sit along when the print

is transferred into the digital format. I saw the

print of Happy Husbands before release and

was satisfied about its quality. Problems arise

when some theaters hesitate to provide the

required facilities for exhibition. This can be

corrected only by the interference of

concerned associations.

How was the experience of working with a

veteran like Joshi?

Joshi’s school is entirely different from others.

I could learn a lot from him. I was fortunate to

have worked with him at this stage of my

career. Joshi had seen the latest film I had

worked. He said his only concern was whether

I would be able to zoom the camera in the

proper manner. After three days of shooting,

he was convinced of my capability in that

area. He was the person who taught me how

to work professionally at a fast pace.

What are your future plans? Since you have

been doing all sorts of popular films, do you

have any plan to change your style?

I have no such ambitions as of now. I don’t

want to be a very busy cameraman. I want to

work with different subjects that allow me to

experiment with camera and lighting.

Hard Work PAYS

Raja Phadtare tells Johnson Thomas

that he considers the industry as his true home.

So how did you make your first entry into film?

When I was studying for my graduation I was already fascinated by the

camera and the images it could create. I found myself more engrossed in

the imagery on the screen than in the story or performances. I was

curious to know what went into the making of those images and this led

me to inquiring about cinematography. My family was totally against my

entering this line so I had to run away and come to Mumbai to pursue

my dreams. I joined Kirti College to complete my education and soon

after I was lucky enough to get a break in 1998 with the great Ashok

Mehta on his film Moksh as the twelfth assistant to the DOP. It wasn’t

paid position but I was eager to learn, and learn from him I did!

From his initial days as a struggler in Mumbai to his present status as a recognized DOP in the regional

language (Marathi) circuit, Raja Phadtare has come long way. Cinema was always his passion. He

used to steal away from home to watch films in the single theater close to His village. Since a new film

was exhibited every week, he used to be there every week and some days when he was not busy with

studies, he used to watch the same film over and over again. He believe this gave him great perspective.

Wasn’t it tough for you in those days?

Yes it was tough but I was willing to work hard and struggle through to

my big break. While in college I undertook course in still photography

which gave me solid base. Thereafter I was working in theatre, doing the

light designing for plays, before I met Ashok Mehta, who was kind

enough to take me on as an assistant on his project. Initially I was just

doing the menial tasks but I paid attention to what was happening on the

camera side and that helped improve my knowledge and gave me the

confidence to approach others for work. The first year I was just an

interested observer on the sets. It’s only after the first year that Ashokji

let me handle the camera. I spent over two years under Mehtaji’s

tutelage and I must say that those two years taught me most of the skill I

put to use today. Ashok Mehta is the master of lighting and through keen

observation and hard work I have been able to use what knowledge I

obtained from him in the work I have done so far.

19


What did you do next? Were you

able to get other positions as

DOP assistant?

Those days it was quite tough

for me. I had no money and my

parents were not supporting me

with any finance and so I had to

find my own solutions. For the

next three years I worked in

television. There was plenty of

work there and serials were a

big fad. But I could not take it for

longer than three years as my

goals were different. I wanted to

establish my career in films and

therefore moved back to

filmmaking. I went South and

worked as Rajiv Ravi’s assistant

in three Tamil films there.

Thereafter I worked with

another DOP, Rajkumar on two

films and in 2007 I came back

to Mumbai to work on my first

project Gal Gale Nighale, a

Marathi film produced by Kedar

Shinde, as independent DOP.

Are you satisfied working in the

Marathi film Industry?

I look on it as a challenge. The

budgets are well short of a crore

and though we use good

equipment and cameras (like

the Ari 435) , we do not have as

much at our disposal as that on

a Hindi film set. So we are

always cutting corners and

trying to achieve better results

despite the obvious handicaps.

It has been a satisfactory

experience so far and I have

been able to learn much more

than if I had started in Hindi

cinema. But now I do feel it is

time for me to give Hindi cinema

a try.

Have you been using Kodak in all

your films?

Once you get used to getting the

kind of results you get on Kodak

then it’s hard to go back to

a n o t h e r p r o d u c t . I a m

completely satisfied by the

results that Kodak gives me. I

usually use Vision 3 . It gives me

unbelievable results. Canvas was

the first film I shot on Kodak

Vision 3 and I used it for exterior

shoots as well as interior shoots.

The saturation levels were

f a n t a s t i c . I w a s a b l e t o

experiment a lot with the film

and it all came good. My work

on Canvas was appreciated by

most people from the industry.

Producers and directors began

to recognize my worth after

that. For Partner I used 500T

and when I checked it out on the

telecine, again the results were

just as I desired. The colour

saturation levels are great and

there are no grains despite the

film being shot on Super 16. For

Babu Band Baja, I am using 500T

for the exterior shots and 250D

for the interiors.

How do make your decision on

the stock you need to use for a

particular film?

The story is the deciding factor

for me. Depending on the story I

take a call on the stock. I read

the script, do the requisite test

shoot and only then do I finalize

what I would need as raw stock.

When I was shooting Canvas in

which there were a series of

murders to shoot, I had to

specifically test 500T stock to

see whether the night shots

would appear consistent or not.

Kodak brings consistency to my

work and DI helps when there is

a need to bring in new elements.

I am in fact looking forward to

using Kodak’s new Vision3 stock

which I am told is the best you

can have!

Attar Singh Saini’s life could have taken a

different turn if he had done Karan Johar’s

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, a film he was first offered.

But what’s commendable about his

achievements as a cameraman is that his

work has received praise even though the

films he has shot haven’t fared well. From

Chocolate to Radio, Saini has tried to make his

visuals as life-like as possible and make

optimum use of location light and ambience.

He wants to be part of a successful film and

hopes that a good script will lead the way.

Success is a State of Mind

Attar Singh Saini tells Deepa Deosthalee that he is not disheartened by the fate of some of his films.

Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal

It’s been a long journey for Attar Singh Saini

from a small village in Haryana to the

glamorous world of Hindi cinema. The shy

cinematographer had no interest in films

through his growing years, but knew he

wanted to do something different. “My

brother couldn’t fulfill his dream of going to

the FTII and so he asked me to apply. I learnt

that there were just six seats in each

department and knew I couldn’t get in without

some filmi connection. Yet I applied and

forgot about it,” he remembers. But he did get

a call for the interview and orientation course

and once he got through, it was a short step

to getting hooked. “Luckily, it didn’t matter

what you already knew when you entered the

“Success is important. If your

visuals are good, but the film

Institute. All they see is how much interest

you have in the subject. And for me it was an

eye-opener because I didn’t know this kind of

cinema exists. When I saw films like Bicycle

Thieves, 8 ½, Knife in the Water and the films of

Andrei Tarkovsky, images from these films

were imprinted on my mind.”

Saini recalls how his teachers encouraged him

to learn from nature and recreate reality.

Gradually he learnt to observe things closely

and study light conditions in every situation.

“Now it’s become second nature.” Fresh from

the Institute, he assisted Surinder Saini on

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na. “I spent several years

doing television shows for MTV, single-

episode series and serials like Baat Ban Jaye

and Ye Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum. The amount of

hard work I put into television was akin to

working on a feature film. I didn’t give up on

the medium because it is a flat image. My

reference point was always cinema.”

fails, you don’t get work.”

20 21

Chocolate

Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal


Till one day, Karan Johar approached him for

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. “I showed him my work

and he liked it and said I was on. I told him I

was going away for a month to get married

and by the time I got back, things had

changed and they had hired another

cameraman because they wanted someone

with experience. I think very few people, like

Ram Gopal Varma, have the knack to nurture

new talent.” Eventually, Saini made his debut

with a small film called 7 ½ Phere directed by

Ishan Trivedi. But he got noticed for the stylish

look he gave to Vivek Agnihotri’s 2005 film

Chocolate, which was inspired by the

Hollywood cult film The Usual Suspects. “It is

my endeavour to simulate naturalistic

patterns. In Chocolate I tried to make optimum

use of the ambience of the London locations

where we shot. I usually try to use the light

conditions available on location instead of

injecting lighting which doesn’t match the

scene. I believe simplicity is more difficult to

achieve than hamming.”

While Chocolate didn’t succeed commercially,

his work was widely appreciated and the

visuals were used as reference material for

commercials and films. “Success is important.

If your visuals are good, but the film fails, you

don’t get work. Failure has hampered my

progress, by my work has helped me pull

along. After a point it is disappointing to find

that your work doesn’t get noticed.” And that

seems to have been the story of his career.

Though the moderate success of Dhan Dhana

Dhan Goal may have helped. “Goal has been

my most challenging film so far because being

a sports subject, one was dealing with difficult

situations. Firstly I had to get used to the

rhythm of the game of football, then we had

heavy tele shots and multiple characters and

locations.” Saini’s recent film Radio too didn’t

f a r e w e l l , a l t h o u g h h i s w o r k a s

cinematographer was widely appreciated.

Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai

Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai

Chocolate

“The amount of hard work

I put into television was akin

to working on a feature film.

I didn’t give up on the medium

because it is a flat image.

My reference point was

always cinema.”

Next he is working on Milap Zaveri’s Jaane

Kahan Se Aayi Hai. “It has elements of science

fiction and is the story of a girl from outer

space who comes to our world looking for

love.” He also intersperses his film work with

commercials and has shot for innumerable

brands and products including Hyundai

Santro, Sunfeast Biscuits, Rexona deo, Surf

Excel, Pepsodent etc. “Today ad films are

getting more realistic and you can create the

same kind of mood that you do for feature

films. Which is why ad filmmakers prefer

working with feature film DOPs. Advertising

comes with its own satisfaction. You finish

your work in two-three days and because the

scripts are short, in a way, complete

perfection can be achieved.”

Saini who likes to play with the tone of an

image and explore darker areas swears by

Kodak stock. “It gives me the realistic feel I

want. Also the consistency of stock from

batch to batch is unmatched. I like the new

Vision 3 stock – it’s really life-like in terms of

highlight and details.”

22 23

Radio

Chocolate

Radio Radio

Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal

“I like the

new Vision 3 stock –

it’s really life like

in terms of

highlight and details.”


24

Flagged Off

Rahul Jadhav shares his career plans with Deepa Deosthalee

Young cinematographer Rahul Jadhav is trying to make the transition from Marathi to Hindi

cinema and from being a DOP to making his own film. A veteran in television and well-known in

Marathi cinema for films like Aga Bai Arechya and Zenda, he hopes to direct his first film in the near

future.

Jadhav would have had a bureaucratic career if his newfound love for cinema didn’t pulled him in a

different direction. With his middle-class Maharashtrian background, it was obvious his family

preferred he took a good government job instead of roughing it out in the unpredictable world of

film. Fortunately, his father, a still photographer himself, encouraged him, and he became an

assistant to Rakesh Sarang instead. “My father was doing stills for the serial Shriman Shrimati. One

day he couldn’t go to work and I stood in for him. Sarang saw me at work and asked if I’d like to join

him,” he remembers.

He spent nearly five years with the senior DOP before taking off on his own, first in television and

then films. “I shot 700 episodes of Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka and over 300 of Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. The

latter was very exciting because I approached it like a feature film and experimented a lot with the

look, particularly when we shot her make-over.”

Before long, he was DOP on the sets of Kedar Shinde’s Aga Bai Arechya, loosely inspired by What

Women Want. “I walked into that film with absolutely no experience of working on film. Along with

my partner Raja Satankar (they work together as a team), we split the job between us, made

storyboards and just rid on our confidence to see through the project.” It’s unusual to see a

cinematographer duo. How do they divide the tasks between them? “Sometimes we shoot

independently, or if we’re involved with the same film, one of us operates the camera while the

other handles the lighting etc.” Jadhav has shot a dozen films so far, most of them in Marathi,

though his last release was Tabu-Sharman Joshi starrer Toh Baat Pakki. “Working on Marathi films

can be challenging because often producers don’t have the resources to give the DOP his choice of

locations. You have to make compromises due to budget constraints. When we did Aga Bai Arechya,

it was the costliest Marathi film ever at Rs. 1.5 crore.”

Stills from Aga Bai Arechya

Kodak film is so good,

it realizes my vision

and captures

everything exactly

the way I see it.”

Zenda

Given that the market for Marathi cinema is

relatively small and yet, the competition is

with the much glossier world of Bollywood,

there’s always an element of uncertainty.

Jadhav’s last Marathi film Avadhoot Gupte’s

Zenda, for instance, didn’t get the kind of pre-

release push it needed and instead, landed up

in a controversy, thereby spoiling its chances

of box-office success. “We had expected

some sort of political backlash to the film

because of its theme, but it came from

unexpected quarters. By the time it released,

pirated prints were already in circulation all

over the state.” Zenda is about the split in a

political party, the feud between two warring

cousins and the ordinary grassroots level

workers whose lives get affected by these

upheavals. The film isn’t flattering to the

political fraternity and allusions to at least

three prominent Marathi leaders are obvious.

“We’d expected Raj Thackeray to react, but he

was surprisingly sporting about the film and

instead, we faced resistance from a group

we’d never heard of, called Swabhiman

(formed by Maharashtra revenue minister

Narayan Rane’s son Nitesh).”

For Jadhav, Zenda was a turning point since

apart from being the DOP, he was also the

film’s Associate Director. “I set my role as

DOP aside for this film because it was so

strongly driven by characterisation that the

camerawork had to be unobtrusive. It also

gave me the opportunity to think from the

director’s point-of-view.” And that’s his next

target — to direct a film of his own. Jadhav is

working on two scripts simultaneously, a

comedy and an offbeat subject against the

backdrop of the Naxalites and farmer suicides

in Vidarbha. “When I approach producers,

some of them like my scripts, but want me to

give them a guarantee that the film will

recover its cost. That’s something no director

can give.”

But whenever his debut film rolls, he’s sure

he’ll shoot it on Kodak, because “I’ve never

worked with any other stock. I don’t even

know what other stock -- Kodak film is so

good, it realizes my vision and captures

everything exactly the way I see it.”

25


Bright

Spark

Divya K meets aspiring cinematographer

Archana Borhade in Chennai.

Archana Borhade is like a bright spark of energy in the film industry. An

engineering graduate, she worked with Wipro Technologies as a

software consultant for a while before turning to where her heart truly

lead her — cinematography. She is currently working as an associate

cinematographer on the Hindi film Joker.

Archana says, “To me, cinematography is to film what soul is to the

body. Whether it is good or bad, stunning or lousy, pretty or gritty it’s

what makes a film and its story visible to us. When you are a

cinematographer and you are looking through the eyepiece of the

camera at the movie unfolding within the frame that you set, with the

lighting that you arranged and you see it happen a millionth of a second

earlier than the rest of the crew crowded around the monitor, there’s a

certain high it gives you and I want to live for that. That’s why its

cinematography for me.

“My interest in cinema started during my childhood when I was the

preferred storyteller of the class. Years later, before my third engineering

term exams, when I was bedridden in the hospital and introspecting

about my life and career choices, childhood memories came flooding

back and I realized that cinema was my calling; I had to tell stories, I had

to make movies because that’s the only way I could be truly happy.

Young

Guns

“I took the Mindscreen Film Institute’s six-month associate

cinematographer programme and was the first female student to be

admitted there. We learnt about different cameras, lensing, camera

angles, screen grammar and cinema appreciation accompanied by

practical classes for different types of lighting, composition, camera

movement besides sessions for story boarding, architecture, painting

and field trips. We shot a 20-minute short film called Aasai Mugam

Marandhu Poche, a teenage love story with a tragic twist. This gave us

first hand experience with script work and shot breakdown, telecine and

DI, even the background score. The script included a wide range of

lighting setups and moods.

“Rajiv Menon and I shared a great student-teacher rapport. His sense of

music and rhythm is inspiring and he has an immaculate taste in colors

and textures. It all reflects in the work he does, each of which is

overwhelmingly beautiful.

“I have worked as an assistant on Ghajini, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and as an

associate on Drohi (Tamil). I also did second unit work on Drohi and Peter

Gaya Kaam Se (yet to be released). All the films that I have worked on

were shot on Kodak and all the stocks whether it’d be 250D or 50D or

500T have been impeccable in performance.

“The Kodak 5219 500T stock is one of the most brilliant stocks ever. Its

latitude on the highlight side is just spellbinding. So many times during

an outdoor shoot, we took a reflected reading of the sky and thought

‘Oh, this is going to bleach out for sure’ but then when we went back to

the DI suite and saw the details in the clouds, it just blew us away.

Whether it is for outdoors or indoors, it is just the perfect stock to me

but I still have a huge crush over the Kodak 5201 50D for the kind of rich

blacks that it brings out. It’s just beautiful.

“I also have learnt a lot during my visits to the Kodak labs, Mumbai

talking to the qualified professionals such as Mr. Suresh Iyer, Mr.

Solomon and Mr. Amudhavanan who are always so encouraging.

“I have worked with Mr. Ravi K. Chandran and he’s a perfectionist who

brings extraordinary levels of discipline and creativity to his work. It is

just fascinating how much you can learn by just watching him at work.

“I also worked with Mr. Santosh Sivan on one of his short films and it

was an experience of a lifetime. He’s daring, impulsive, a creative genius

and an absolute master of visual storytelling. Mr. Alphonse is a great

teacher and brings a high level of professionalism and articulateness to

his work

“My dream is to become a good cinematographer; to be able to bring

stories to life on the screen and make moments memorable and

evocative, to make the characters relatable and be instrumental in

making cinema that lets the audience have the great movie experience.”

Child

Prodigy

He is just 14, but is already regarded as an accomplished filmmaker. At

the age of nine he had directed his first feature film titled Care of

Footpath featuring many well-known artistes like Jackie Shroff, Sudeep,

B.Jayshree, Saurabh Shukla and others. Before his first venture as a film

director which surprised many, Master Kishan was already a successful

child artiste in the Kannada film industry, having won several awards.

Kishan was born to a family of film enthusiasts and his parents had a

creative bent of mind. His father B.R.Srikanth was working in Central

Government and was associated with many film personalities and even

assisted in the story and music departments. His mother Shylaja

Srikanth had worked as a music director for many films.

His father says, "From his young age, Kishan showed enormous interest

in learning the process of filmmaking. He showed talent in

understanding computer graphics, Photoshop and had even shocked

many computer hardware experts with his knowledge of computers. He

was also a voracious reader of film related books and was browsing the

internet to know many things about films. Since he was academically

brilliant, we did not oppose his eagerness to learn many things. He had

started to act in Kannada films at the age of three and was responding

very quickly to the instructions received from the film directors and his

actor colleagues. He had won many awards as a child artiste in films.

But when he first told us that he wants to direct a film and had a script

ready, we were really astonished. He was not even eight, when we heard

him talking about directing a film. But he had convinced of his abilities

before we decided to encourage and back him in his endeavour."

When Master Kishan announced that he would direct a film, many

people did not believe it. During the launch of the film, a team of

journalists and filmmakers questioned him about various aspects of

filmmaking and were astonished at the way Kishan cleared their doubts.

He was able to speak authoritatively on the achievements of Steven

Spielberg, Guru Datt, James Cameron, Mani Ratnam, Shankar and many

others. He was able to analyze lighting patterns and camera angles in

some sequences of top films. Jackie Shroff, who had acted in a special

role in his film Care of Foot Path, said that he had accepted the offer to

act in a nine-year-old boy’s film mainly because he was convinced that

the young director was a genius and was up to something which was

certain to be critically appreciated and win the hearts of the people.

Shroff addressed a press conference after finishing his work in this

historic film to hail Master Kishan as the most focussed director who

Young

Guns

26 27

had a firm grip on his script and the team.

Kishan says that he was inspired to write the script of the film after

closely watching the rag pickers in the street. “I wanted to send a

positive message through this film. I just wanted to say what I strong

believed in, that hard work will certainly pay dividends and any child

who is brought up in poor surroundings can make it big if he is

determined to achieve something."

Master Kishan’s first directorial venture Care of Footpath won the Swarna

Kamal (Golden Lotus) Award for the Best Children’s film in the year

2006-07. The film also won many prestigious awards from the

Karnataka Government including the Best Children's Film award and the

Best Child Actor for Kishan. His achievement was recognized by the

Guinness Book of World Records; Kishan was the World's Youngest

Director of a professionally made feature length film at the age of nine.

He replaced Sydney Ling who was just 13 in 1973 when he had directed

the Dutch film Lex the Wonderdog.

A year ago, Master Kishan received the National Award for Exceptional

Achievement by the Union Government’s Ministry of Women and Child

Development. The film also ran successfully for more than 100 days in

its theatrical release.

R.G.Vijayasarathy tracks

the achievements of Master Kishan,

officially the youngest filmnmaker

in the world


28

M. Venkatesan is a qualified

ad filmmaker from Chennai, who

has worked extensively in the

area of advertising, having

produced and directed more

than 40 projects — ad films,

s h o r t f i l m s , p r o m o s ,

documentaries, internet video

ads and music videos.

He is a film school graduate,

who specialized and obtained a

D.F.Tech in Film Direction from

the L.V.Prasad Film and TV

Academy. Since then, he has

done ads and popular films and

handled corporate brands like

Preethi Mixes, Federal Bank, City

Developers, Grundfos Pumps,

C B a z a a r , A i r b e e , S r i

Ve n k a t e s w a r a N e t r a l a y a

H o s p i t a l s a n d S u r i e n

Pharamacuticals etc.

In 2007 his short film, Kshama,

based on the early life of

Mahatma Gandhi was screened

at the IIFF- Indian International

Film Festival ’07 at Chennai, and

in the same year was the official

Indian entry for the Gandhian

Panorama Film Festival and was

awarded the Jury Prize. It also

won the Best Film Prize at

Auteurs Short Film Festival

organized by St.Thomas College,

Chennai.

DOCUMENTING A LEGEND

In 2009 he scripted and directed Kadhal Mannan - (The King of a lot of contributions of the

M. Venkatesan talks

about the making

of his biopic on

Gemini Ganesan.

In 2007 he produced and

d i re c t e d a d o c u m e n t a r y,

Madurai Jallikathu – Bull Fighting

in India, for the New York Times,

which was well received on the

international television and

internet markets.

Romance) for Dr. Kamala Selvaraj under her banner Alamelu Creations.

This was South India’s first biographical film, in Tamil, Telugu and

English. The decision to make a biopic on Gemini Ganesan, one of the

legends of Tamil cinema, was not easy as many of the places, landmarks

and other things present in Tamil Nadu and rest of the South India had

changed; most of his contemporizes were no longer alive, and the small

set that was still around, was above the age group of 80.

The never-ending discussions about production and logistics took place

at all levels, since a filmmaker doing a period film starting in British Era

India demanded that the visuals speak of the time and feel of early 20th

century Tamil Nadu — Pudhukottai, in particular — and the recreation of

the film studios of Madras of the 1940s was a challenge.

Says the director, “The first and only option in my mind was film, although

the lure of digital camera and digital formats was there from all the fronts,

none of them was about the quality or feel, but only in the domain of

complex tricky economics. Super 35mm Film was the format finalized and

shot using Arricam LT at 3 Perf, to save on the precious little moments

which can be brought to life without cutting in between a difficult shot of

a child artiste in the drama part, or interrupting a renowned speaker at a

time when he is making a crucial point in the documentary part of the

film. Although this is a not a commercial film, the kind of production

values is very important, not just because it is Tamil cinema’s first

biographical film on a film actor, but also for the need to represent the

culture, heritage and prosperity of Tamil Nadu worldwide.

“Since It was a three-language output in Tamil, Telugu and English, with

lots of period portions in the Brahminical village of Pudhukottai (1920s),

Madras City of the 1940s and Gemini Studios representing the film

industry of the post-Independence era (1945-48), the concept

discussed with the art and production departments was not to put a

sepia tone in the post production nor shoot in black and white, but to

recreate the era using a specific but authentic color palate just as how

the Tamil language and the slang of that era was researched and brought

out. Since it was a more than two language output in the docu-drama

genre involving a drama part which runs for the first 50 minutes and a

docu part which runs for 60 min, the need to have a strong origination to

have an effective DI was very essential. Although a lot of digital formats

are available with a variety of combinations for post tweaking, film is the

only format which is time proven as far as archiving of content is

concerned. As a qualified filmmaker I feel the need for making a

biographical film is not just for commercial reasons, but to tell

tomorrows generation what was prevalent yesterday not just in the

world alone but also in the field of film. Although cinema is a modern art,

older masters has not been

documented and this is one

such attempt to recreate the

screen magic of late acting

legend Gemini Ganesan.

“Film is the most portable and

efficient format to work for

documenting people and places,

not just because it is cable free

unlike the so called high-end HD

cameras which promise near

point and shoot cinematography,

but for the reason that lensing

and recreation of a certain

cinematic feel and an emotional

look is possible with a magic

ingredient of film.

“Kaadhal Mannan was shot on

Kodak stocks, with an Arricam

LT, 3 –Perf, with live sound with

Cooke S4i Lenses– Kodak

5207–250D 500T for indoors

involving sets of period houses

and recreating of film sets of

1946 Tamil film Chandralekha,

and also for celebrity interviews,

and 5219 – 500T for outdoor

shoots in harsh conditions like

semi-vegetative villages, lakes

and shoots with elephants and

other animals etc.

“Globally even on advanced HD

Broadcasting TVs, more than 60

percent of the prime time

content is shot on Film. TV

series like The Shield and Sex and

the City and low-budget films

like Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

were shot on 16mm film, and yet

the quality and visual appeal of

it remains timeless.”

Regional Offices

Mumbai

Rachna Pawar

Tel No: 91-22-66416762 / 66

Fax No: 91-22-66416769

Email: rachna.pawar@kodak.com

Mumbai Cinelab

Aparna Bhusane

Tel No: 91-22-67026600 / 02

Fax No: 91-22-67026666

Email: aparna.bhusane@kodak.com

Chennai

M.T. Amuthavanan

Origination Products

Tel No: 91-44-2362 3086 / 9840333350

Fax No: 91-44-2362 2522

Email: mohankrishnan.amuthavanan@kodak.com

Sandheev Nair

Deputy Manager

Entertainment Imaging

From document imaging in the copier industry to motion picture imaging in the entertainment

industry — the journey has been simply exhilarating. I have been working for two years in the EI

department at Kodak, handling sales of ECN in the Hindi feature film segment and also marketing

activities in film institutes and it has been a thorough learning experience. Dealing with new

products, new markets, interacting with creative minds and students has been my main focus area.

Oodles of energy, creativity and passion drive this industry and working with Kodak, puts me in the

limelight. For me, it's All Work, No Compromise!

Movies for me have always been a way to spend a lazy weekend. However, associating with Kodak

has changed my perception completely. Today, I not only enjoy movies for their content, but also

appreciate the finer nuances of filmmaking, especially cinematography. My other interests include

experimenting with new cuisines, solving puzzles, listening to music, reading and travelling.

Chennai

T.M. Prasanth

Distribution Products

Tel No: 91-44-2362 3086 / 9840489900

Fax No: 91-44-2362 2522

Email: prasanth.mohan@kodak.com

Bangalore

Ananth A. Padmanabha

Tel No: 91-98860 08642

Email: anantha.padmanabha@kodak.com

Kolkata

Chirag Gandhi

Mob: 9830915152

Tel No: 91-33-30286254

Fax No: 91-33-30286270

Email: chirag.gandhi@kodak.com

Motion Picture Film

Hyderabad

S. Gowrishankar

Distribution Products

Tel No: 91-9849015950

Fax No: 91-40-2381 6181

Email: santhanam.gowrishankar@kodak.com

Hyderabad

Surya Basa

Origination Products,

Tel No: 91-9885823238

Fax No: 91-40-2381 6181

Email: surya.basa@kodak.com

Kerala

Visakh K.J.

Mob: 91-9895708469

Tel No: 91-484-2366230 / 36

Fax No: 91-484-2363211

Email: visak.kj@kodak.com

For more information; visit www.kodak.co.in/go/motion


R A F E Y M E H M O O D

Filmmaking for me is like a great coming together of

ideas and people.

I grew up in Allahabad. When visitors would come over,

we, along with them and their cameras, would be taken

for boat rides to see the Sangam. Since midstream, it

would be difficult to spot the actual confluence of Ganga

and Jamuna, we watched out for the slight difference in

the colour of the two waters. The mythical third river

Saraswati, flowed below and was invisible. We as kids

just dipped our hands in the water to try and touch it.

Filmmaking is a bit like the boat ride: it carries the

possibility of the spectacle of the two great rivers

meeting; the nuances of the subtle waters, both are

buoyed by some kind of deep underlying faith.

I passed out of FTII in 1989. When I shot the climax of

Haasil on the banks of the Triveni Sangam it was as if

many things had come together.

In 2007, a crew from 12 different countries assembled to

shoot the Haj for the Imax film Journey to Mecca..In

footsteps of Ibn e Batuta. On the third afternoon of the

Haj, we perched ourselves on top of a minaret of the

Kaaba to take a long computer-driven time-lapse shot on

this spectacular format. As the evening fell we saw a

million pilgrims perform their sacred circling of the

Kaaba called “Tawaaf”. It was staggering to think how

this event would unfold in subtle shifts of light over

possibly a five-storey high screen.

While units come together and part, my association with

Kodak is a continuous one. I have always found myself

testing the new stocks they develop. I am a great fan of

their researchers who have provided uniform standards

for this visual art, which spreads across the globe.

I think of Kodak as an institution… they preserve and

bring together many ways of seeing.

I know all cinematographers work with a spirit of

inventiveness and endurance. The erstwhile DOPs and

my seniors stand like luminaries on the path of

Cinematography. In a sense they have already thrown

much light to mark the path of our journey.

(Rafey Mahmood’s DOP credits for features include

Mithya, Haasil, Mixed Doubles and the Imax film —

Journey to Mecca in Footsteps of Ibn e Batuta.

He shoots commercials and is a filmmaking teacher.

He has also won a National Award for Cinematography.)

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