What was your first break in the industry?
While studying at FTII, Vidhu Vinod Chopra visited the campus and saw my exercises and that is how I landed up working as an apprentice on the sets of 1942 – A Love Story. I met Sanjay Leela Bansali on the set and years later when I got the opportunity to work with him on Guzaarish, it was like a dream come true. So immediately after completing my diploma, I was in the middle of a big production and that is how I entered this field. I realized if I hung around in Mumbai, I would keep assisting people and therefore I returned to Calcutta and worked on independent projects like advertisements and documentaries. The scopes of the projects were small but I still chose to work on them instead of assisting other DOP’s in Mumbai.
It depends from project to project. While working, I design a certain look in my mind and if there is clarity in terms of the voice of the project, I can crack the scene very easily. However, if the director has not given me the right perspective then I can be confused because I have to search for the right look. And the job doesn’t end with me deciding on the look of the movie, it ends with the execution of the design. I can think of a quicker way in order to save time but having said so, I usually don’t prefer to choose the quicker way. I would rather choose the correct way. You do earn a reputation of being a fast DOP but I am not interested in the tag. It will not help you in the long run. Of course it can be impressive if you do your work fast but what comes on the screen stays forever. Therefore I would rather follow the correct way.
There was also one shot where Ethan and Sofia are travelling in the car. It is a wide-angle 12mm shot and there is a lot of headroom. It was a cloudy day and we were hoping that while taking the shot the clouds would part allowing the sun to break through. The magic happened only after the fourth shot.
A good human being can be a good cinematographer because they have a nice view of the world and I genuinely believe that it translates into the image you are creating. I strongly feel that we are doing an important job and most of us don’t even realize it. We are recording our times through the films that are made. Because for the generations to come, our movies will serve as a time capsule and therefore, while we are making movies we should be very conscious about the responsibility that rests on our shoulders. Those who are aware about this would be greater cinematographers.
Who are your inspirations?
It seems that the word ‘Cinematographer’ is a point of contention in some circles. Vittorrio Storaro claims that DoP is the wrong terminology. What is your opinion on it?
For More info: Click Here