Issue 2, 2010 Volume 7 - Kodak

Issue 2, 2010 Volume 7 - Kodak


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


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


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


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


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


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