Jai Gangaajal is one of Prakash Jha’s darkest films – Sachin
The recently released Jai Gangaajal is a hard-hitting crime drama that has the characteristic rawness and realism synonymous with Prakash Jha movies. Capturing this realistic setting is Cinematographer Sachin Krishn, who has been a constant comrade to the director on most of his films like Raajneeti, Chakravyuh, Satyagraha and more.
Here are a few excerpts from an interview with the noted DOP who shares insights into the visual treatment and making of the film.
The trailer of Jai Gangaajal shows a raw environment that is typical of most Prakash Jha films. How did you capture it on camera?
The fundamental idea of shooting with Prakash Jha is that each shot has to be as realistic as possible. The treatment is more like a documentary and not like a regular film. The subject is intensely real, and it translates into dark and gritty onscreen.
In what ways is the cinematography similar and different from the previous installment of the film?
The times have completely changed since Gangaajal (2003) came out. Equipments have changed and become better. Sensibilities have changed. There was a different DOP for Gangaajal. So this has led to an obvious change in aesthetics. The creative approach has also evolved from that time. Gangaajal was shot using anamorphic lens, whereas we have also used normal lenses for Jai Gangaajal.
What were Prakash Jha’s expectations from the cinematography? And how was it collaborating with him once again?
My involvement on the sets is more like that of an associate director with Prakash Jha and Sudhir Mishra, with whom I have worked a lot. I like to think of myself more as a storyteller rather than a DOP. With them, I am contributing more and am involved in other aspects of filmmaking, be it conceptualising or even dialogue writing. Prakash Jha wanted me to make the film as gritty and realistic as possible. And I get my kick in working with him.
Being a realistic film like all other Prakash Jha movies, what was the color palette that you’ll decided for the film?
The film is based in rural locations. So you’ll see that the colours are very raw and natural. It is not glossy or chic as a film based in an urban location would be. It portrays the dark side of life in India.
And where has the film been shot?
99% of the film has been shot in Bhopal.
We worked with Arri Alexa. The camera set up was in accordance with the demands of the particular scene. I made use of Panther Dolly and various crane set-ups. We used more of Steadicam, but not as much as Panther Dolly.
Tell us about the type of lenses that you worked with. Also, what was your approach to framing and angles for this film?
I work mostly with Master Prime or Cooke lenses. For Jai Gangaajal particularly, I have used more of Master Prime. I have also used optical zoom. As far as the angles are concerned, there have been various, as per the scene requirement. From the angles and lenses perspective, Jai Gangaajal is a more controlled film, as compared to Raajneeti and Chakravyuh. Those films were bigger in scale and had a lot of scenes where there is constant dynamic movement. In Jai Gangaajal, I had the liberty to keep the camera on hold and use slow zoom. This treatment has helped me to do justice to the subject matter of farmer suicides. There have been some really slow shots. This is one of Prakash Jha’s darkest films ever.
Describe the lighting design employed in Jai Gangaajal.
As I mentioned earlier, Jai Gangaajal is one of Prakash Jha’s darkest films. So the lighting has been used in such a way that it depicts a very edgy mood. The film has many dramatic situations, and thus lighting gives a very noir feel to it.
What were the challenges that you faced while shooting?
Scale wise, I have done bigger films with Prakash sir, which were much more challenging. But Jai Gangaajal came with its own sets of challenges too. We were shooting some major action sequences in the heartland of Bhopal for a few days. Hoards of people used to gather around everyday to see Priyanka Chopra. It became quite a task to shoot in that environment. And most of our shooting has been done in outdoor locations where light continuity becomes a problem. Shooting in a studio is easier because you have full control over the light. In the outdoors, we have to shoot in accordance to the sun. And he sun doesn’t wait for anyone.