Working with Induji, is like a dream come true for me,” says cinematographer Rituraj Narain while talking about his collaboration with Indra Kumar on their latest blockbuster Grand Masti. In a candid conversation with Pandolin, this talented cinematographer who has earlier worked for Vishesh Films banner, speaks his heart out describing his entire journey, the association with various directors, his preferred lighting style, the most memorable sequence shot by him and much more.

298820_10150385851433666_2141357196_nYou started your film career under the mentorship of Fuwad Khan and assisted him in a couple of films like Jism and Murder. How would you define your experience working with him?

It was absolutely great working under Fuwad as an assistant on Jism and chief assistant on Saaya, Chehra and Murder. As his assistant, I got a lot of freedom to implement my thoughts and by the time Murder was shot, I felt confident enough to start working as an independent cinematographer for films.

Starting from “Kalyug” as an independent cinematographer until your latest release Grand Masti, which has turned out to be a blockbuster hit, how do you feel at this stage of your career?

I have been extremely lucky to work with many wonderful and tremendously accomplished artistic people. Be it Mohit Suri, Anurag Basu, Mahesh Bhatt or Indra Kumar, I have only learned more every day while working with them. Bhatt Sahab’s presence on the sets made a huge difference and I got to learn a lot from him. Also, Mohit and I enjoyed a great rapport during Kalyug.

Again, Anurag is a brilliant technician and a really skilful director; hence working with him was very insightful. But working with such a senior director like Induji, on not one but two films, is like a dream come true for me. The experience, the technique, the positively patient attitude, the attention to detail, the comic timing and the overall energy, he brings on to the set is just amazing. One has got so much to learn from him.

Can you please talk about the vision behind the look of Grand Masti and how did you achieve the required color tone for the film, considering it’s a fun-filled adult comedy?

It was clear from the start that Grand Masti’s look should be glossy, colorful, saturated and punchy i.e. ‘in-your-face’ as the film itself is.

Which camera format and lenses did you work with and what were the factors that influenced your choice for this?

We shot with Super 35mm camera and Zeiss Master Prime plus Optimo Zoom lenses. I preferred to shoot on film rather than digital because it captures much more depth and detail.

Please brief us about the lighting design adopted for the various interior and exterior sequences of Grand Masti.

The lighting setup of this film was influenced by its genre; therefore the light sources were generally soft and heavily diffused. Many of the interior shots were in bedrooms, so the lighting had to convey a playful and romantic mood. I used a lot of practical light fixtures and the overall look of the film was purposely kept glossy and fun. Even for the night exteriors, the lighting has been kept so as not to miss any expressions.

DSC_0591According to you, how much is the scope of visual creativity and cinematic styling in films like these, which are specially designed for masses?

A sensitive director will always be open to suggestions by his cinematographer and hence there is always a scope for new ideas even in a specific kind of film.

Tell us a little about your preferred lighting style, in general.

My preferred lighting style is what the shot demands. One cannot execute, what one wants without considering what the mood of the scene and the script requires.

Now after Grand Masti, you are again working with Indra Kumar in his next project titled “Super Nani”. How has been your collaboration with him so far and what are the things, which you think contributed in taking this association forward?

It is my good fortune that Ashok ji and Indu ji thought of giving me another film under their banner. As I said before, there is so much to learn from such an experienced yet humble human being like Indu ji. He knows exactly what he wants from his cast and crew and doesn’t shirk from retakes. He drives everyone to aspire for the perfect shot.

Ashok ji is a wonderful producer who is always accommodating of my requirements and has always encouraged me to deliver my best. The mood on the set is always professional yet light hearted and it is an absolute blast working with them.

What was the most challenging or memorable sequence you shot for any film? Can you please share a bit about that experience?

Every shot brings with it, its own set of challenges but lighting for the title song of Grand Masti was quite something. It was set in the hall of a very old palace where there were obviously no fixtures for lights. To top that, one had to be very careful about not damaging antique property, which included stained glass work, carvings, inlay work and semi-precious stones on the floor. It was an extremely precautious location to shoot.

GMMention some of the artists you admire and enjoyed working with.

The artists I have worked with have all been fantastic, both on camera and off. But especially, it has been a joy and an honor to work with Rekha ji.

What is your advice or suggestions for the aspiring cinematographers?

There is no rule, once you are on the set. Just adapt, adapt, adapt. First learn the rules and the basics of cinematography, then go ahead and bend them.

Please tell us about your other projects in the pipeline.

The filming for Super Nani is on and another film (untitled as of now), with my childhood friend Mukul Misra at the helm, is at the pre-production stage.