Ramaiya Vastavaiya has a desi feel mixed with urban gloss: Kiran Deohans
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ce cinematographer and ad filmmaker Kiran Deohans who bagged the prestigious Filmfare award for his very first film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak has now come back with another romantic film titled Ramaiya Vastavaiya. In an exclusive conversation with Pandolin, this reputed cinematographer who has earlier shot projects like Aks, K3G, Jodhaa-Akbar and Agneepath talks about the making of his upcoming film, collaboration with the director Prabhu Deva and debutant Girish Kumar.
How did your association with Prabhu Deva happen? What was his brief to you before shooting Ramaiya Vastavaiya?
Normally I don’t do films back to back. My last film was Agneepath but within two months of its release, I got a call from Tips industries. I hadn’t worked with them earlier and I was keen to work with Prabhu, so that got me interested as well.
Whilst chatting, I got to know that even Prabhu Deva wanted me to be the DOP of this film. I met Prabhu whilst he was shooting the promo song for the film Oh My God. We vibed very well, and right from the first meeting I felt this would be a long relation. In fact, from 24th of this month, I am shooting another film with him. Prabhu doesn’t repeat his team usually but I think I am one of the lucky ones. He had liked the work I had done earlier but particularly liked Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Ramaiya Vastavaiya is a romantic film where Girish Kumar is being introduced. Similarly QSQT was a love story with Aamir Khan’s debut, so somewhere down the line there was a connect and Prabhu felt that I could deliver exactly what he wanted.
He wanted a nice, polished look to the film. The film had to be dramatically colorful but at the same time have an up-market feel.
What was your own approach and principle idea towards the look and feel of the film?
I looked at this film exactly the way I saw QSQT. It had a bit of ‘desi’ feel mixed with urban gloss, it had romance; it had drama so the look and feel was a mix of various styles of lighting, but also keeping freshness in mind. The main actor Girish Kumar is being introduced, so I was extra careful with lensing and whilst lighting his face.
Which camera format and lenses did you employ for the shoot and why?
The film was shot on 35mm Fujifilm stock and one schedule overseas was shot on Digital format. Two cameras namely ARRI LT and ARRI 435 were used for the film, and Arri Alexa and Phantom was used for the Digital shoot. Equipment wise, we used jimmy jib, panther dolly and steady cam. The equipment was top of the line and there was no compromise on that. Also, the lenses were Master Primes and Ultra Primes made by ARRI.
What was the kind of composition and camera angles incorporated in the film?
Where you are going to put the camera, how you are going to move it, all depends on the content of the scene and the director. For example, if a scene requires a person to look larger than life, then the camera would be placed low and a wide lens up close would be selected. So all the lensing and framing follows the scene content.
Ramaiya Vastavaiya is a mix of thrill, action, romance and drama so lensing and composition changed as per scene requirement. We tried to avoid very gritty and dark images though, because that didn’t go with the content of the film. Even for the dramatic moments, I refrained from making it too dark and contrasty except for a couple of night sequences.
The colors were chosen very carefully, whether it was a costume, or a wall color.
Tell us about the lighting design you adopted for Ramaiya Vastavaiya?
Primarily, I shot most of the exteriors in soft cloudy weather. Some scenes where the protagonist in the film is shown going through hardships was shot against hard sunlight.
Even indoors, the light sources were soft and diffused. I used all kinds of lights such as Tungsten 5Ks, 10Ks, multi 20s, and some18K, 12K HMIs, Kinoflos etc. and a Helium balloon for night exteriors. Lots of diffusing was done through material like muslin and satin. Sometimes, we also used acrylic sheets to make the light softer depending on the image size.
Where did the shooting happen and how many days it took to complete the film?
Initially the location was supposed to be Himachal Pradesh but because of weather conditions we had to shift to Bhor near Pune. Most of the shooting happened there. We used to stay in Pune and travel for over 45 minutes. Some of the sequences were shot in Mumbai at Filmistan studio where sets were made and some in bungalows at Madh Island. Also, we shot at one hotel in Lonavala. And yes, one schedule was in Dubai. I would say 40 percent of the film was shot on sets and 60 percent on real locations. We took 90 days to complete the shoot.
What was your treatment towards the song sequences in this film?
There are about 6 songs in the film and all are romantic songs, so they were almost like an extension of the romantic scenes in the film. However, there is one montage song, where different kind of lighting has been used to tell the story. Basically it plays with transitions and the change of light that happens from early morning till night.
How was it working with young actors and newcomers like Girish Taurani?
Girish has certain innocence in his face and he is very expressive. Only thing I had to take care of, were his eyes. He has slightly deep-set eyes; hence I had to ensure that the audience is able to see the spark in them by highlighting them.
It was fabulous working with Girish, and the rest of the cast; Sonu Sood, Vinod Khanna ji, Randhir Kapoorji, Govind Namdeo, Zakir bhai, Paresh Ganatra etc were all so much fun to be with. And Shruti Hassan as well.
Girish Kumar, although being the producer’s son, was extremely professional and co-operative and was a pleasure to work with.
What were the major challenges faced by you while shooting and how did you overcome it?
The basic challenge was how to make this film look different and fresh. Also, director Prabhu Deva works with such speed that one has to match up to his rhythm and still create good images. All actors were very cooperative, the direction team was good and the production was also very well organized. I had a good support from production designer Sunil Babu. All in all, it was smooth sailing right through the film.
Where did the post-production and DI of the film take place? Who was part of your Camera team?
The entire post-production and DI happened at Future Works and they have been really cooperative. Gaurav Gupta, the owner of the studio, the special effects in-charge Smit Shah and Rahul Purav, the colorist, gave me the look I wanted for the film.
My chief assistant was Pramod Gaikwad, and Titu Kumar Jena and the focus puller was Aslam khan. I had two gaffers; Dinesh and Firoz.
The second unit cameraman was Arvind Singh. His assistants were Akash Raj and Ritu Raj.