Legendary cinematographer V.K Murthy passes away
Some artists do not need recognition by being in the eyes of the world all the time; their work does the talking on their behalf. We all remember the iconic sequence from ‘Pyaasa’ during the song ‘Waqt ne kiya haseen sitam’, we all remember the beauty of simplicity that scene reflected. It was the work of one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, Mr. V.K Murthy. He passed away at the age of 90 on April 7, 2014. Known for his brilliance in presenting absolutely beautiful images in black and white, V.K Murthy was the first cinematographer who won the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award.
Born on November 26, 1923, V.K Murthy was also a part of the freedom struggle for India’s independence, he even went to jail for the same. He completed his schooling followed by a diploma in cinematography from SJ Polytechnic in Bangalore. He got noticed by Guru Dutt when he was assisting cameraman V Ratra during the shooting of ‘Baazi’. He suggested some incredible shots and Guru Dutt asked him to be a part of his team. He then went on being the chief cinematographer for Guru Dutt’s films like ‘Pyaasa’, ‘Kagaz ke Phool’, ‘Sahib, Biwi aur Gulam’, ‘Jaal’, ‘Mr. and Mrs. 55’. It was the thought and the simplicity he would bring in a sequence that made him a class apart from many others.
Guru Dutt and V.K Murthy shared a complex relationship and they had their disagreements on almost every shot but that worked out for the best. He was in a way Guru Dutt’s eyes, he brought alive the shots that Dutt imagined.
After Guru Dutt’s untimely death, Mr. Murthy worked with Kamal Amrohi in ‘Pakkezah’ and ‘Razia Sultan’. He was the cinematographer for eleven films with Pramod Chakravarthy from ‘Ziddi’ in 1964 to “Deedar’ in 1992. He even did some work on television- Shyam Benegal’s ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’ and ‘Tamas’.
Apart from the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, Mr. Murthy was awarded the IIFA lifetime achievement award in Amsterdam in 2005, the Kodak Award for Technical Excellence in Indian cinema at the 4th MAMI film festival in 2001, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Indian Cinematographers Association (SICA).
After getting to know about this unfortunate news, many filmmakers, actors and cinematographers expressed their sadness through social media.
Subhash Ghai tweeted, “V k murthy sir passed away today but he will remain the institution in indian cinematography 4 good. I was blessed to be his actor in umang”
Siddharth, the Rang De Basanti fame actor tweeted “One of the greatest men to ever light a movie frame, legendary cinematographer V. K. Murthy sir has left us. RIP great sir.”
Even the I&B Minister took out time from the election frenzy and paid respect to Mr. Murthy “I&B Minister: Shri Murthy’s contribution to the celluloid world resulted in classic masterpieces etched in human memory for ever. RIP”
Hemant Chaturvedi calls Mr. Murthy “India’s greatest, purest innovator.” And that is true in every sense.
V.K Murthy was a wizard who created magic on screen and gave life to the emotions of the actors, the background score and the dialogues. He was without a doubt one of the most iconic and brilliant cinematographers Indian Cinema could ever have and his work will keep inspiring millions and re-defining the art of filmmaking for a very long time.