Filming Katti Batti required a lot of internal thought
Katti Batti is not your average boy meets girl, falls in love and they live happily ever after kind of rom-com. In a chat with Pandolin, Cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray talks about capturing the many layers in this love story, his approach to treating the two timelines in the film differently, the experience of working with Imran Khan and Kangana Ranaut & more.
Your last film Khoobsurat was also a romantic comedy like Katti Batti. How does the treatment of both these films differ?
Both the films are completely different from each other. I had to approach Katti Batti from a very different angle. Khoobsurat was a nice, happy and smooth joyride, not the kind where you are emotionally shaken. Whereas Katti Batti has a graph that takes the audience through various emotional stages and keeps them thinking about life. There are various layers and sub-layers in the story that portray the same person from a myriad of perspectives. Also the time frame is utilized in an intriguing way where the past is always a shadow of the present, making the whole movie even more interesting.
Since Katti Batti is a rom-com, what is the color palette you’ll have worked with?
Being a youthful film, Katti Batti gave us the scope to make it quite colorful, especially the costumes and production designing of the earlier part of the story. As the film progresses it starts to be little duller and desaturated as per the changing graph of the story.
Where has the film been shot? What factors were you’ll looking for while selecting the places?
Scouting for locations for a particular project happens completely on the basis of the script and the story. But having said that, choosing a particular location for a particular scene is largely based on your interpretation of that scene.
We shot extensively in Mumbai, both on sets and on real locations. We also shot several portions in Ahmedabad and the FLAMES institute at Pune.
In this kind of an emotional, relationship-based film, what angles and frames have you worked with to bring out those emotions?
While we were prepping for the film, I told Nikhil that I wouldn’t like to shoot the film with a lens that is beyond 50 mm. So the primary lenses that I’ve used are 25 mm, 35 mm and 50 mm. I wanted to be closer to the actors and didn’t want to lose their perspective. Though at times that was probably a compromise with the desired depth of field and with the look, but for this film I didn’t mind that as I thought that physical proximity will narrate the story much better. Around 70 per cent of the film has been shot with the 35 mm lens.
Which camera have you shot with and what was the camera set up like?
The film is shot with an Alexa XT with a set of Master Prime lenses. Another XT was hired for the second unit work which shared the same set of lenses. We have used the Red Epic Dragon for the song ‘Sarfira’. It started with the idea of using a smaller camera and Red always comes in handy in such situations. I was very happy with the color rendition and the contrast of the Dragon as I needed that little extra contrast and a slightly richer black than Alexa for this song.
The film travels from a happy to a serious zone. How have you used lights to showcase these moods?
Well, in linear sense of time travel it does change from happier to a not so happier zone, but in the script it all happened simultaneously. You as an audience are always traveling back and forth. For this very reason we wanted to treat those two timelines differently. After a lot of discussion with Nikhil, I decided to keep it true to the mood of Maddy, our protagonist. So in terms of a linear time approach you will get to see that the brightness and the saturation is much lesser in the second phase. Also the blacks are thicker and there is a touch of cyan in the lower part of the curve.
Take us through the making of the song ‘Sarfira’. How does one shoot in such low-light set ups?
‘Sarfira’ is a graduation song. The moment Nikhil came up with the idea, I told Nikhil that a graduation party has to have a bare minimum set up. You normally don’t get much more than your music and booze for such parties except for a place. So we liked the idea of keeping it as minimalistic and simplistic as possible and didn’t want to make it into another ‘party song’. It had to be an amateur space, not one that looks like a pub or disco because the idea is that the students have arranged the party by themselves. So we thought about the design and shot it accordingly.
Were there any challenges you encountered while shooting Katti Batti?
There were no particular challenges. Filming Katti Batti didn’t really need a lot of physical expertise but it required a lot of internal thought. I really enjoyed the process of shooting this film. It was a smooth and soothing experience.
And which would be your favorite scene from the film?
Of course the climax was memorable because of the emotional context.
But the scene that gave me most satisfaction is the broker scene. For that scene I lit up the set once and for all, and then shot the whole scene without shifting a single light. And I think it worked great.
From working with newcomers like Sooraj and Athiya on one hand and established names like Imran and Kangna on the other, how was the overall experience?
Sooraj (Pancholi) and Athiya (Shetty) are so young, fresh and energetic. They will do whatever you want them to do. So you instinctively feel responsible for them because they put so much trust in you. I think both of them are extremely talented and hard working and have done a fantastic job in the given scenario.
With Kangana (Ranaut) and Imran (Khan), who are seasoned actors, there is a role reversal. You observe them playing the scene and you then design certain things (in your scene) according to their performance and not vice versa. My experiences with Hero and Katti Batti were so contrasting that it was almost like watching a scene through a mirror; I got to watch from both the sides and enjoyed both to the fullest.
Tell us about the Post Production and your team for the film.
I am fortunate to be working with the same team for quite some time. Sunny Singh from Prime Focus was my Colorist. Saumik Mukherjee was my associate. Jishnu and Anwar, my seconds, Pradeep, was my gaffer and Bharat, my focus puller.
How long did the shoot take?
We shot around 62 days for Katti Batti.
Photo Courtesy: Emmay Entertainment