Making of Rangeele, Tu Kya Jaane and Yaadaan Teriyaan
[dropcap]R[/dropcap]angeele, Kailasa’s first album since 2009, features more down-tempo, touching songs, reaching out to the strains of yearning and love in every listener. A well-made music video can add volumes to the listening experience of a song, and Mithun Gangopadhyay, Cinematographer of the videos knows that only too well.
Working with director Jaydeep Sarkar of Paapi Pet Pictures, Mithun has worked magic in all three videos. Whether it is shooting in natural light, or in a specially made set, or even guerrilla style shooting in the streets of Kashmir, Mithun delivers crisp, elegant shots that complement the moving music of Kailasa.
“I love music, I love shooting music videos, but I’m tone deaf, so I cannot break down a song, I can only relate to it on an emotional level” says Mithun. “So it was important for me to get the emotion of the moment across, and shooting in a style that was a lot less stylized than I would have normally gone for.” Mithun worked closely with director Jaydeep Sarkar to get the individual look of each video across in his work. “Jaydeep sent me some references, and I sent him some references in return. It was more to get into the feel of things rather than copying a look.”
The title track, Rangeele, was completely shot in Mumbai. The concept of the video was to show the lives of people from different strata of society, with the underlying message of the song to live more freely, all played by the same actor. “I think the actor did a great job giving each character a different personality. As far as shooting was concerned I felt we got locations that fit the characters perfectly. Like for the chaiwala we actually went and shot in a chawl, and for the movie director we went and shot in a nice apartment.”
The characters featured in the Rangeelevideo are all related to Kailasa, and them making the music video in tangential ways, and the video follows the band’s journey from practicing the song, to performing it and shooting the video (in the video.)
Keeping the slice-of-life, realistic look and feel of the video was key for Mithun, ‘we didn’t dress any set; we just shot with what was there. We couldn’t run generators so whatever we had was plugged into house power.”
In fact the only portion of the video that had a set and lighting was the ‘performance’ part, where the film director character directs the video-within-the-video of the song.
Mithun uses an interesting filter for the ‘performance’ portion of the video, which is perhaps the only portion of the video that seems ‘set-up’. “I brought a specialty filter with me from New York, that mimics anamorphic flares. In the US you can rent specialty equipment at a moment’s notice, in Bombay the only way you can get specialty equipment is to own it.”
The build-up of the song through the everyday lives of the three characters culminates in the performance, around the time where each character has achieved some sort of fulfillment and happiness by living more freely.
From a celebration of life, to lament of lost love – the video for Yaadaan Teriyaan was shot completely in Kashmir. “Kailash (Kher, singer and frontman of Kailasa) is from Kashmir, and he was very keen that we shoot a video in Kashmir.”
Yaadaan Teriyaan is as filled with sorrow as Rangeele was full of life, and the video contrasts this with the everyday lives of Kashmiris going about their daily lives. The video hooks the song so intimately to the streets, the people, and simple beauty of Kashmir that it might seem impossible to separate one from the other. “Jaydeep Sarkar wanted to capture the life of the average Kashmiri. He wanted a lot of portraiture shot, so we just went out on the street and shot some. None of us had been to Kashmir before – We didn’t know what we would find and where, and we were out shooting guerrilla style.
“We had A and B units and we’d go off somewhere and shoot something and then meet later, and then Jaydeep would later choose what shots he wanted to use and what people he wanted to show. He really wanted to show what Kashmir is like through the eyes of the people.”
Yaadaan Teriyaan has been shot almost completely in natural lighting, though not entirely due to aesthetic choice. “We went right when it was Eid, and we couldn’t find any crew, any equipment. So that video has been shot with 95% available (natural) light. The only equipment we could source in Kashmir because of the time-constraints were two 1K ‘babies’, which I used only in a couple of situations where I had to balance the interior with the exterior – of course that made Kailash’s face very yellow, which we had to correct in post.”
The performance portions of this video were shot in three locations – one being on the Dal Lake, on shikaras, where Mithun has gotten some excellent slow-paced footage of the performance, mirroring the placid life in Kashmir. Another location was a small timber house on an island in the middle of the Dal Lake, which made for some beautiful footage of the band performing in an open house amid nature.
“The other location that we were very lucky to get is the former king’s palace in Gulmarg. It’s a heritage structure, but we had the support of the local government and we managed to get that location,” reveals Mithun.
Yaadaan Teriyaan had a more cinema verité feeling to it, which Mithun feels at home with, and his extensive experience in making music videos and commercials shows in his execution of these videos. Which is what made his work on the third video, Tu Kya Jaane, a leap, since its concept depends largely on sets and lighted shots.
“We built a pandal in Madh Island, and everything was shot within a 1 kilometer radius. The director was very clear with what he wanted – that this is a travelling Ramlila troupe that goes from village to village performing, so they won’t be very sophisticated in their lighting.”
Tu Kya Jaane is a song of unrequited and forgotten love, and the video shows it through the story of actors in a Ramlila troupe, who travel from village to village performing. The unhappy marriage of the actors who play Sita and Ram, plays in the background as Kailasa perform their song. Through the careful lighting to keep the video looking natural and real like a small-town Ramlila performance, “We lit the stage with practical lights hung from the ceiling, and at the bottom of the stage we lit some power cans, which we didn’t use for lighting but more as a design element, because that’s how all these low budget troupes actually light (their performances.) These we kept off for most shots because we didn’t want it to be under lit either.”
After working on all three videos, Tu Kya Jaane is his favorite one, both video and the song. “I come from a lighting background, shooting mostly commercials and music videos in America, and it was a new experience shooting these guerrilla style in India.” And Tu Kya Jaane gave Mithun much room to work with when it came to lighting and shooting style. The Ramlila scenes (and some others) have a tilt-shift effect to them, showing a bold choice, one that highlights the distanced, disconnected nature of the Ramlila performance, and even that of the actors themselves.
All three videos were shot on 5Ds for budgetary reasons, and also because a lot of it was shot guerrilla style. It would be difficult for the best cinematographer to get a natural feeling to a shot when wielding a full-fledged film camera. Mithun has his own particular views on the more technical aspects of shooting on location in natural lighting, “I installed the Technicolor color profile because it allows you to look into the shadows a lot more, which enables you to protect your highlights, and lets you shoot in very contrasting situations which you have no control over. Other than that, I only shot on multiples of 160, so we have the cleanest image.”
An ardent professional, Mithun has a no-nonsense approach to his work, and doesn’t have an inflated sense of ego. He takes his work as a job, and aims to deliver what is asked. “I had a certain vision and the director had a certain vision, and we met halfway, but in the end it looked exactly as the director wanted it to look, and I think as a DP that’s my job.”
As told to Adhiraj Singh