FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY. NOT FOR SALE.
FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY. NOT FOR SALE.
dibakar bannerjee, Nikos Andritsakis, Vikram Bhatt, A.K. Bir, Rajen Kothari, Prashanth Misale
contents FIRST QUARTER 2010
PUBLISHER Reliance MediaWorks Limited, Film City Complex Goregaon (East) Mumbai - 400 065 (India) Tel: +91 22 2842 3333 / 4488 Fax: +91 22 2842 2211 www.reliancemediaworks.com
01 // Shake
Dibakar Banerjee is out to shock Hindi film audiences out of their comfort zone with a film called Love Sex aur Dhoka (LSD), writes Deepa Deosthalee.
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Cinematography shouldn’t be obtrusive
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Deepa Deosthalee meets Greek DOP Nikos Andritsakis, who has shot the adventurous and experimental LSD.
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A.K. Bir tells Deepa Gahlot what made him take on his first Marathi film Huppa Huiyya.
Much in Little
Rajen Kothari shares his philosophy with Deepa Gahlot
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High on Style
Prashanth Misale tells Daya Kingston how he waves a magic wand over the audience.
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What Lies Beneath
As Vikram Bhatt returns to the horror genre with Shaapit, he tells Manisha Lakhe what makes it work for him.
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ABOVE: Love, Sex aur Dhoka
Shake Y & Stir
Dibakar Banerjee is out to shock Hindi film audiences out of their comfort zone with a film called Love Sex aur Dhoka (LSD), writes Deepa Deosthalee
ou don’t need to meet Dibakar Banerjee to know that he thinks out of the box. You could deduce that from the kind of films he makes, from his blog and assorted interviews in the media. When you do meet him, it’s refreshing to find a director
determined to push the envelope rather than create a Bollywood blockbuster. And candid enough to state that he’d rather use his equity to do something risky. With Love Sex Aur Dhokha a.k.a. LSD he’s done just that, both in terms of form and content. “If you walk in expecting a
conventional film shot in a conventional way with traditional narrative patterns, you’ll get shocked. Which isn’t to say that it’s an esoteric film. It has universal themes and deals with stories we hear all the time. A couple falls in love, elopes and is never found again. A couple is found photographed having sex in a shop and then you never hear of them thereafter. A rock star is caught in a casting couch scandal and mid-way through, the story stops and you don’t know what happens. These stories have no before and after. LSD is about what happened before and after to these people who are as human as you and I.” It isn’t meant to titillate, he’s at pains to emphasize. It’s supposed to be a warning sign to a generation that’s entirely caught up with phenomena such as the media, consumerism and the lure of fame. “We are being told that if we aren’t famous, don’t have six packs, aren’t seen at the right places in the right clothes, aren’t on television,
“This film is unapologetic about its digital lineage. It emulates all the aesthetic characteristics of films you see on the internet, on phone clips or on television.” we are nothing. Our lives are meaningless unless someone else defines who we are for us. All three stories in LSD have characters on the verge of defining their lives when they let other influences take over.” Hence the digital format, which, although widely accepted in the West, is still very new to Indian cinema. Dibakar believes in the case of LSD, form is content. “This film is unapologetic about its digital lineage. It emulates all the aesthetic characteristics of films you see on the internet, on phone clips or on television. When I first showed a twominute demo of AV footage downloaded from various media to Ekta Kapoor, who has produced the film, she was shocked, because it was shaky and grainy and unrefined. But that’s exactly how the film had to look, and yet be interesting for a cinema audience.”
ABOVE: Dibakar Bannerjee BELOW: Dibakar & Nikos on the sets of Love, Sex Aur Dhoka.
Working with cinematographer Nikos Andritsakis and a bunch of new actors, Dibakar systematically went about creating the illusion of distorted, fragmented, unfinished images. “We did two months of workshops for choreography and staging
because we had to work with constraints. Such as, create a dramatic impact with a static camera in a supermarket, for instance. There is a film about a sting operation where the camera is strapped to the person’s body and while you never seen the character in
ABOVE: Love, Sex Aur Dhoka.
the frame, he had to act in order to make the other characters react. And we had to use the movement of the camera to express his emotions. Most of all, we had to learn how to make a badly shot film and still make it aesthetic. So it required a lot of unlearning and reinventing of cinematic grammar.” Dibakar isn’t too hassled about the kind of reactions a radical film like LSD might evoke. Nor is he afraid of facing censure from the moral police. “Actually the film talks about how being moralistic is just another side of being hypocritical. While we allow so many things to happen right in front of our noses in society, we are not ready to allow a depiction of the same things on screen, however critical it may be of that reality. I have no problems complying with the wishes of the Censor Board and will blur what they want me to blur and cut what they want me to cut. I don’t believe that will take away from the impact of the film.” When Dibakar’s first film Khosla Ka Ghosla was released in 2006 after four agonizing years of going through all the frustration and dejection that comes the way of a first-time filmmaker, he was likened to Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Instead
of playing on that comparison and doing another film in the same vein, he proceeded to make Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, where his endeavour was to tell a story without any real story. “I wanted to write a film that couldn’t be written and I spent a year labouring over the script of Oye Lucky. It was unconventional in terms of its content and treatment and couldn’t be easily slotted as a comedy or a tragedy.” Before all that, there was advertising, a profession he took to right after graduating from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, and one he still pursues alongside his film career. “I worked as a copywriter, because I believed that writing was at the source of creativity. But I was always a film junkie and knew that I had to make films at some point. I started an agency in Delhi with two friends and advertising work was pouring in fast and thick.” Till he woke up from his complacent life in 2002, exited the agency, started his own company and decided to make a feature film before the dream could fade. “Working in advertising in Delhi taught me a lot because we had to work with minimal equipment and ended up multi-tasking, since there weren’t that
“The film talks about how being moralistic is just another side of being hypocritical.” many skilled professionals around. And because of the crises Khosla Ka Ghosla went through, I learnt even more, sitting and polishing and re-editing that film over and over again while we were looking for a distributor. Most of all, it taught me humility and patience, virtues that I value a lot.” Next on the anvil is a political thriller about an assassination and what happens thereafter. “I’m doing the work I like. The day I’m excited about a subject that can do justice to mega budgets, stars and the works, I’ll do it. Stars are important – some of the best films in the world have been great because of their stars. But in order to make such a film, the right kind of star, director and story need to fall on the proper date.”
ABOVE: Nikos Andritsakis
ikos Andritsakis, a Greek cinematographer trained in London, has found his way to Bollywood. A graduate of the London Film School, he has shot Dibakar Banerjee’s feature film Love Sex aur Dhoka, a.k.a. LSD on a digital format. He speaks warmly of his experiences in India and the challenges of working on a film which had no reference material to go by and several technical hurdles and stylistic constraints to overcome. Andritsakis landed in India last year to shoot a film by his London Film School mate Anu Menon, only to discover to his horror that the film was delayed indefinitely and he was basically jobless in Mumbai. “Obviously my first reaction was regret over what I thought was a horrible mistake coming here. But since I had nothing to do, I started shooting stills on the streets of Mumbai and soon I fell in love with the place. The natural lights in Mumbai are so exquisite. This place is unique and unlike any other city I’ve seen in the west because the beautiful and the ugly co-exist in the same image,” he explains. He began his career as a stage photographer and is a self-confessed fan of classical photography. But he wanted to direct films and started off as an assistant on Greek films. “While doing that, I shot a four-minute short film called The Bus, which was about an incident on a bus between a grumpy old lady and a coloured man. I sent it to the London Film School and they offered me a Master’s programme with full scholarship!”
“Cinematography shouldn’t be obtrusive”
Deepa Deosthalee meets Greek DOP Nikos Andritsakis, who has shot the adventurous and experimental LSD
The LFS programme encompassed the entire spectrum of filmmaking and it wasn’t rigid about specialization in one area alone. “I worked in different departments associated with filmmaking from direction and cinematography to set design. And I think that was wonderful because a DOP needs to understand other departments in order to do his job well. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort and hence no cameraman can do his work in isolation. My job is to service the narrative in the best possible way and use lighting to bring all emotions of a scene to the surface. Cinematography shouldn’t be obtrusive.” At LFS, Nikos shot a 15-minute short film, which got selected at the Camerimage Cinematography Festival in Poland. “That gave me a lot of exposure, as did the Budapest Masterclass in 2005 where I went soon after I finished film school.” Before long he was shooting music videos and commercials in London and travelling across Europe shooting graduate films for film school students. “This was a unique experience because I had to shoot in different places under varying light conditions. For instance, I shot next to the Arctic Circle where the days are 20-hours long and the magic hour lasts for four hours. I shot in Greece and Portugal, where the sun is always overhead and there are shadows under peoples’ eyes.” Back in London he worked on smallbudget independent films because he didn’t want to spend his time working his way up in mainstream cinema. “In Europe filmmaking is often financed by passion and hence isn’t always a commercial activity. Besides, youngsters like me don’t get a chance to work on big-budget productions in London (even their ADs are twice my age!) and I wanted a first-hand experience at cinematography instead of working as an assistant. So I didn’t mind
doing small-budget films like Talking to Strangers, which was a micro-budget film shot under very difficult circumstances.” Music videos, on the other hand, gave him the opportunity to work with the latest technology. Nikos shot several pop and R&B videos before arriving in Mumbai. Having made the choice to stay back in Mumbai, he started showing his showreel around and was offered the Samsung commercial with Aamir Khan. “Initially, I was only looking at doing ad films. Dibakar also directs ads and that’s how I met him. I had experience with the digital format because I’d shot music videos on digital and I guess that’s how I landed LSD. I saw Dibakar’s Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye and thought it was a brilliant film.” Around the same time he was also offered a big-budget Bollywood production with much more money. “The temptation was definitely there, but I chose LSD because I thought this was a concept that hadn’t been done before either in India or elsewhere. And I wanted to be a part of something that was new to Indian cinema.” The greatest challenge was that there was absolutely no reference material except low-grain porn videos on Youtube, etc. “We didn’t have any set patterns to follow in terms of the images. It was a very liberating experience. It was also difficult because we had to figure out every little thing, for instance, how to create the illusion of recording with a small camera planted on someone’s chest. We had to make an underwater camera contraption which took 20 minutes to set up, and the camera had to be switched on right at the beginning, which meant we were recording nothing for the first 20 minutes! There isn’t so much digital equipment available here because the format isn’t used extensively in the mainstream. So we had to innovate at every step.”
“We need images which will take us by surprise, and as a cinematographer, the greatest challenge is to bring those images alive.” LSD has three different stories, which have a common thread running through them. “The first is the video diary of an amateur filmmaker. So we used shots from his film, which is why the footage is shaky, gritty and unframed. The second is a story in a supermarket seen through the store’s CCTV cameras, which is why we have wide, high-angle shots. The third story has a hidden camera in someone’s vest or bag because it’s a sting journalist’s story.” Nikos thought the CCTV story was the most difficult to film. “I was afraid of that story because it’s a challenge to shoot when the objects are always at a fixed distance from the camera. The story had to be very strong and the sequences needed to be choreographed well enough to compensate for the lack of camera movements and close-ups.” Nikos now plans to divide his time between London and India for some time to come. “I’ve just shot commercials for DOCOMO and there are offers for a couple of feature films in India and a sci-fi project in London which I am very excited about. We’re at a point it time where we have seen so much cinema we rarely get moved by the action on screen these days. We need images which will take us by surprise, and as a cinematographer, the greatest challenge is to bring those images alive.” For an unusual film like LSD, obviously the lab had to be up to the challenge. “We went to other places before Reliance MediaWorks. We have shot LSD on three different formats and hence had to invent our own post-production workflow. They were the only lab that could cope with the digital format. I’m extremely satisfied with their efficiency and the fidelity with which is the system is calibrated for grading.
“What Lies Beneath” As Vikram Bhatt returns to the horror genre with Shaapit, he tells Manisha Lakhe what makes it work for him.
e sent Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea to a haunted mansion in Ooty in Raaz and created an audience. Then got his heroine to eat the pet cat in 1920 yet another haunted house and increased that audience even more. Now Vikram Bhatt has directed yet another thriller called Shaapit.
What is this fascination you have with haunted houses? Are you inspired by Stephen King and Co? What is Shaapit all about? It’s a myth that scary movies are a recent trend and we are borrowing from Hollywood. We Indians have loved scary movies for ever. Remember Mahal? Woh Kaun Thi? Or for that matter Mera Saaya? Those movies were huge hits, and are watched even today. These movies talk about lost souls, lost loves, they romanticize that fear which runs through the whole film. And the fear and the horror comes from haunting music that was used wonderfully in these films. At one point we started making C-grade horror films, with monsters and graves and body parts.
There was an audience for those movies too. Just as there is an audience for the murders and gore of Korean and Japanese movies I like making horror films which have an emotional spine. And that is what Shaapit is all about. The film is about a young man who will battle evil forces to win his love. And (laughs) am not telling any more. Your 1920 was also a scary movie. Some liked it, some didn’t. What are the lessons you have learnt? See, horror movies are all about
anticipation of fear. Although 1920 had a sense of that anticipation all through the film, there were not enough moments or events that startled the audience. You see, you have to continue shocking the audience, surprise them with things. So in that sense Shaapit is scarier. There are many more startling events which will keep the audience on its toes. You see, we are talking about the Barista generation, that has much more access to horror films from everywhere. So you have to take them on an adventure, and
me the best they can. In Hindi, we have a saying, ‘Nakal mein bhi akal chaahiye’ If I am able to connect with my actors then they can make a difference. Shaapit is a scary movie, and we hear odd things happen during shoots. Do you have any incident you wish to share with us? Nothing odd really happened. Yes, there’s one really memorable incident that I would like to share. Since this is a scary movie, we had worked hard to maintain fill that adventure with horror. One well-known critic was very scathing about 1920. There is a huge audience out there which is beyond the metros. And when the movie turned out to be a hit, the same critic called me up and said that he quite liked the film. So I don’t care about what a handful of critics say. My audience decides what is good and what is not. There is huge audience out there, that likes stories about the chudail and the bhoot, they like being spooked by wandering souls and beings that want revenge, and I enjoy telling these tales and scaring people. You have a penchant for newcomers in your movies. How do you manage? Do you audition? Strangely, I did not audition anyone for Shaapit. Everyone knows that Vikram Bhatt gives a chance to new people, so they simply flock, send their CDs. And working with new people is a marvellous opportunity for every director to show what he’s made of. Older established stars are good, no doubt, but they are mostly media made stars, and when you are trying to get work done, it becomes very difficult to work with people’s stardom. You see, directing is all about communication. First you communicate with your actors and then with your film you communicate with the audience. I enjoy the process of directing young people, bringing out their talent. You have a hidden talent, we hear. You can act! Are you going to be in front of the camera as well? (Laughs) No no. I am quite content being director. I enjoy emoting in order to teach the young people. A director must be able to show what he wants the actors to do. I am quite happy in showing them how to act, and their talent lies in copying
“I enjoy the process of directing young people, bringing out their talent.” the spookiness of the place. You know, otherwise everything becomes funny. Now there was one scene where Shweta, the heroine, was supposed to react to a scream, as in, get startled out of her skin. The assistant who was helping with the scene would scream and instead of being scared, Shweta would burst out into laughter. She giggled and giggled and as a result I just did not know how to get the right reaction. So when it happened again, I asked the girl in charge of continuity to scream. She let out a blood curdling scream. Now Shweta was expecting a man’s scream and would react. But on hearing a girl’s voice she was so shaken, she gave the perfect shot! So now the movie is about to release, what next? What about Summer of Frost? What is all about? Now that the movie is about to release I have to go out and promote it, I have just finished promotion with Dance India Dance. And now I will be travelling all over the place to talk to people so that they come see the movie. Summer of Frost is happening slowly. I am writing it but you know how it is, when the story is so close to your own life, your experience, it takes time. It’s not about the hero and the heroine walking away into the sunset. Most people believe that relationships work, there is a happily ever after. I am a realist at best, and I can tell you that this romantic love which people believe in... there’s no such thing. Summer of Frost is about lust, it is a twisted love
story. I have always maintained that the body has a mind of its own, and this story is about that body. Underneath all that you seek in any relationship, there is guilt, there are questions about right and wrong, about society. People are driven by ‘what will the society think’. If it were up to us, we would not be dealing with society at all. We would be making our own rules and living by them. What we have and what we want are very different...And that is why I say that this story is quite twisted... What does Vikram Bhatt the person want from life? I am not someone who wants to be a picture of the wall, you know, a lesson for others after I am dead and gone. There’s a price to pay for fame. You tend to live miserably and have to learn to die honorably. I want my soul to experience everything that there is to experience. I have a daughter who is simply fantastic and watching her growing up has been spectacular. She is already showing signs of being interested in the movies, but I am happy to be there for her. I love to travel to strange places, but prefer to travel to places where English is spoken (London and New York are my favourite cities, as everyone speaks English, and I am a creature of habit, I tend to like the familiarity of these places and yet I enjoy different aspects of the places each time I visit them). I am enjoying my work in TV, the company already does the dance shows, but I am looking forward to the 50episode thriller that I have made for TV. That will scare many more people, I know for sure... top left & below: Shaapit
A.K. Bir tells Deepa Gahlot what made him take on his first Marathi film Huppa Huiyya.
.K Bir, one of India’s best cinematographers and filmmakers, graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. He started his career making advertising and documentary films, won several awards, directed feature films like films, Aadhi Mimansa, Lavanya Preeti, Aranyakam, Shesha Drushti, Nandan and
Baaja, for which he won national awards as well as international recognition. His films have an elegiac quality to them but are as hard-hitting as they are lyrical. He recently shot a Marathi film called Huppa Huiyya, produced by Samit Kakkad and directed by Anil Surve, with Siddharth Jadhav, Mohan Joshi, Girija Oak, Ganesh Yadav and Usha Nadkarni
ABOVE: Huppa Huiya
“It’s about humanity and community, how they reciprocate and solve problems in a rural set-up.” in the cast. The film is about the son of a village sarpanch, who is a devotee of Hanuman, and how he performs various good deeds and helps the society, but packed with comedy; and as an added attraction, a look at 11 Hanuman Temples in Maharashtra. “It’s from a metaphorical perspective,” Bir explains, “Humanity and community… how they reciprocate and solve problems in a rural set-up. Hanuman is used in
“Regional films are able to deal with truth better than Hindi films…Hindi cinema is content with glamour.” a very dynamic way. It’s the first film of the director, but the producer knew me and was willing to wait when I was busy with something else. In cinema, of course, language is no restriction.” When Bir works with other directors, he keeps in mind that a lot of filmmakers are unaware of many aspects of cinema, “like perception of looking at things. They write good stories but have no idea how to film them.” For Huppa Huiyya, Bir had to hunt for the right location that was important for the ethos and zeroed in on Wai, “which had the potential of conveying the authenticity the theme required.” Over the 28-day shoot, all challenges that could come up while shooting a rural film on a limited budget were thrown as the veteran DOP. “You have to use ingenuity, observation and how best to make do with available resources and transform them to the requirement of the film. For instance, there was a night scene in a ghostly haveli, where people are using searchlights. Now shooting such a
scene could be an expensive proposition. I thought of a way of shooting it without any lights.., dim ambient light and moonlight outside. They could not believe how we did it without any lights. Ultimately the DOP’s work is creating an illusion that has a particular realism. How you do it does not matter. You have to be particular about objects, framing, compositional aspects; if you are sure and precise, it cuts down expenses. “Technology has given us many facilities,” he continues, “you are at liberty to choose what you need and see what you can contribute from your side. Or you can use technology conventionally, the way everyone else is doing it.” Bir is of the opinion that our films cannot compete at international level,
because “we are satisfied by a little above average. It’s not that our filmmakers and technicians don’t have talent, what they lack is guidance—sometimes they just don’t know what can be done. Nobody is paying attention to this. Regional films are able to deal with truth better than Hindi films…Hindi cinema is content with glamour. “The first approach to constructing an image is creating a reality that does not exist and then create a believable aspect in the audiences’ mind…what kind of imagery you are developing to create that dream. There is definitely something wrong in how we go about it. We have so much to give and we are not doing it. The question is what kind of dream is it… can it take you up or pull you down.”
above: A.K. Bir on the sets of Huppa Huiya; below: Huppa Huiya
ABOVE: Well Done Abba. inset: Rajen Kothari
Much In Little Rajen Kothari shares his philosophy with Deepa Gahlot
he best compliment a filmmaker can pay a cinematographer, is to work with him film after film. Almost every director Rajen Kothari has worked with has repeated him several times. With Shyam Benegal, this director-DOP bond has lasted the longest, starting from Samar in 2000, to his latest Well Done Abba this year. Kothari, a graduate from the Film and Television Institute, Pune, has also directed two films (Purush, Pangaa Na Le) and teaches at Whistling Woods International,
when he is not out on location. You have now done several films with Mr Benegal, do you think there is a special working relationship between you now? Though the perceptions have changed a lot these days, our belief is in tradition and the film unit is always looked upon as a family with Mr. Benegal at the head of the table. My father was Shyambabu’s colleague at Lintas, but it was at the end of my 25 years in the industry that I got an opportunity to work with him. I suppose we have enjoyed
each other’s company and we would like to continue as long as we keep enjoying our journey together. This stems out of a certain amount of mutual trust and respect for each other as human beings, technicians and artistes. We have bonded well since our first outing that was Samar in 2000. Most filmmakers today shy away from setting films in rural settings, do you,
“For me what is crucial is that the film has to have a rooting.”
Rest of them struggle to measure up to the Zubeida experience.
as a DOP feel the pressure to work harder on the visuals so that audiences are attracted, or do you prefer to maintain a sense of simplicity ? In fact it is other way around! India still lives in its villages and rural India is still vibrant and pristine. Whatever needs to be spruced up, Samir Chanda and his team does through excellent production design support. In one of my earlier write-up I have gone on record stating that in such situations we only capture the nuances in their glory and put them across to the audiences on screen. We select what and what-not and sprinkle it with minimal condiments. Rest is all a creation of the Almighty and the communes, which we film. This makes our task much simpler! For me what is crucial is that the film has to have a rooting. As long as that gets defined, rest everything falls in place either through actual locations or good make-believe sets and settings.
of ‘Multum In Parvo’ (Latin) which simply translates as ‘Much in Little’! Well Done Abba has a Hyderabadi backdrop... any particular detailing to bring out that ethos? A Dakkhani story set and shot around Hyderabad, what more can you ask for. Also the Sun God was kind and out in all its brilliance most of the while. Samir’s gang fabricated whatever was not available. The right recipe for delicious Hyderabadi Biryani. The film reflects good flavour and has the right ingredients to tickle the taste buds of the connoisseurs! Your experience of shooting the film? Same as every other movie with Mr Benegal, clinically precise. Zubeida by far was most satisfying and exhilarating.
Is the atmosphere on the sets lighter when shooting a comedy? Does it aid or hinder your work? The atmosphere on Shyambabu’s units is always healthy and productive. Unfortunately, one rarely encounters frayed tempers because every one is clearly briefed and knows what is expected out of him/ her. Instructions are always precise and definite sans ambiguities. He has always been a good commande—strict yet gentle, knowledgeable, proactive and hence never confusing. Sure, when you are out to make a comedy the least you can afford is to be glum! Atmosphere on sets need to be cordial always, egos have to take a backseat. Films set in small towns or villages are often accused of being/ looking exotic. Is there something you are advising young DOPs to do or not to do when shooting such films? Experience and not advice is the best teacher. As one of my colleagues Sudeep Chatterjee rightly says, “Initial few films you work overtly to make audience look at exotic cinematography, but soon you realize that the deliverance of the content is far more crucial than exotism.” The cinematographer’s job lies in the deliverance of the spirit of the script by justifiable means in there lies the attainment. Bodhivriksha isn’t it! top left & below: Well Done Abba.
“I am at heart a simple storyteller and not some crazy techno geek.” Beauty lies in simplicity. What I have learnt through FTII, and the filmmaking influences I have carried with me of the works I have adored, tells me to keep cinematography basic and bare minimum, least cluttered and most simple so that the essence of storytelling remains up front and the director can drive his point home. I am at heart a simple storyteller and not some crazy techno geek. I am a faithful follower of homoeopathy and believe in its principle
HIGH ON STYLE! ABOVE & BELOW: Aasal
ABOVE: Prashant Misale on the sets of Aasal.
Prashanth Misale tells Daya Kingston how he waves a magic wand over the audience. of nonchalance there—Misale captures
f you had one to use word to describe the Tamil flick Aasal, it would be ‘stylish’! This big-budget extravaganza breaks free from the conventional look of Tamil cinema and has a sleek and stylish international look. Right from the hero’s trendy hairstyle, foreign locales, exotic cars and glamorous heroines, it’s style that simply shines through the lenses of DOP Prashanth Misale. Aasal has fully exploited the medium of cinema by focusing more on visuals rather than dialogues to get the message across, a hint of suspicion in the eye here, a glint
every nuance with his keen eye. The young and energetic DOP who made his debut with Aasal believes in his power to wave a magic wand over his audience.“It’s a wonderful feeling to be a DOP, to be a commander. After all, it’s DOPs who
“It’s DOPs who make stories colourful and connect each character with the audience.”
make stories colourful and connect each character with the audience. It gives one a great deal of freedom to experiment. “Ajith who plays the lead in Aasal is a leading South Indian star and a very good actor. I started interacting with him during the shoot of Billa and I owe the opportunity to work in this film to him. He was very encouraging. When we started the film, director Saran, Yugi Stehu, Ajith who was also the co-director sat down with me for a meeting. We decide that the film had to be different in presentation and more towards a Hollywood look. Saran gave me a lot of freedom and I have put in a lot of effort into every single shot in the film. “For the hero’s entry, the director was clear that it had to be something extraordinary. When his face appeared on screen we used the sunlight directly
tone. Different locations have different tones making it easy for the audience to follow. “Songs are very important in a film. Since they are played over and over again on television channels, I have spent a lot of time in planning them. The Totoda song was given a greenish tone to make it different. “The chase scene in Paris was a bit adventurous. We had to shoot on a live location with cars whizzing by on both sides! However, I am not averse to such risks, I believe that God will take care of me. I recall that once while shooting a chase sequence for Dhoom, Nirav Shah was shooting form the middle of a road. A pseeding biker came straight at him and he was injured. above left & below: Aasal
“I still consider myself a student of cinema and am constantly learning new things.” above his head (this almost creates a halo). I have used a lot of rim light, half light and back light for him throughout the film and this has worked well. “In the song, Thala Pola Varuma, we have some shots in the interior with intercuts of the exterior. This happened to be pretty low light but gave the song a mood feel with the sober lighting. The whole film was shot on the 435 Extreme camera with Ultra Prime lenses and Master Plan lenses. The film has a lot of wide angles which gave it a sleek and stylish look, I chose 8R and 14 wide lenses. I tend to work very fast and this proved to be quite an asset, especially in places like Paris where we received limited time to shoot. “We shot for about 25 days in Paris and the weather was fluctuating from day to day. It was my colourist Nilesh Sawant of Reliance MediaWorks who helped me give the film a consistent look. I was constantly in touch with him. “Ajith plays a double role in the film, one older and one younger, in one outdoor shot in Switzerland, they appear together in one scene. So, after the first shot was canned, he had to change his getup and this took over an hour, by the time the lighting had changed and this is where DI really gave me a hand.
“The DI work by Reliance MediaWorks was really helpful in creating what I wanted to achieve. The quality, grading, DI printing and so on are really good. The consistency is maintained throughout. Besides that, I appreciate the good and intelligent staff. In fact, before signing the agreement for the film, I was particular that the processing must be done only at Reliance MediaWorks. “I have used different tones through the film to indicate various transitions to the audience. The desaturated look also gave the film the stylish look. For Ajith’s entry fight, I have used a greenish tone. For one of the chase sequences, I have selected a bluish
“I still consider myself a student of cinema and am constantly learning new things. The late DOP Jeeva was my first teacher and I learnt a lot from him. Nirav Shah and Arjun Jena are two other DOPs who have been instrumental in helping my career grow. I have worked under Nirav Shah on a lot of action films like Dhoom, Dhoom II, Billa and Pokkiri and enjoyed working on them.” “I have not yet signed any new projects. I enjoy action but would love to do romantic films too. I want to work with big stars and banners because that will give my work greater reach. My dream is to give India films of a Hollywood level.”
“The whole battle is about shadow detailing” Rana Dasgupta tells Jayanti Sen how he goes about his work.
tart Sound”, “Rolling”, “Camera”, “Action” away goes the camera, shooting is on for Bappaditya Bandyopadhya’s latest film Kagajer Bou. Cinematographer Rana Dasgupta is busy operating his camera. He is at the moment one of the busiest cinematographers of the Tollywood film industry, though he isn’t a graduate of any film institute. “Whatever I have learnt and done so far was through hands-on-training, on-the-job, so to say. I worked under ace cinematographers Saumendu Roy and Subrata Mitra. Mitra’s younger brother Bachchu Mitra taught me a lot, how to mount the camera, how to thread the film into the magazine, then how to operate it, change a lens. I watched both Subrata Mitra and Saumendu Roy at work. Even after I had become an independent cinematographer, I assisted Asim Bose for quite a few films.
Finally I started working as an independent cinematographer in 1998, with Bappaditya’s Sampradan, it was the first film for both Bappa and myself. In 2000 I again assisted Asim Bose when Buddhadeb Dasgupta was making his Uttara,” he says. What are the films you have worked with till date? I have done all the films Bappa made; two films with Basu Chatterjee, Tak Jhaal Mishti and Hachcheta Ki. Raja Sen’s Debipaksha, Teen Murti. Bappa’s films Sampradan, Shilpantar, Kanntataar, Kaal, Devaki and House Full. Subhas Sen’s Aparaadhi and Aloy Fera. Shankar Roy’s Saathi Amar and Krodh. A very good film by Ajoy Sarkar, Manush Bhut. Swapan Saha’s Sneher Pratidan, Jabab Chai, Rajkumar, Chaoa Paoa, Ei Prithibi Tomar Aamar, Olot Palot. Swapan Ghoshal’s Mahakaal, Pita. Kagajer
Bou is my 37th film in fact. When doing the cinematography of a film, visualization-wise how much is the director’s own part and how much is your own? For all the directors I have worked with, I try to find out what the director himself wants in terms of visuals. I follow the script closely. There are certain other factors that govern my own visualization, what the location is, whether it is real location outdoors or in a building as you see now. If I am working on a studio set then the whole thing becomes much easier and is under my own control. I have to plan and think, out of doors situations can suddenly crop up which I have to cope with, the sun may lose its light as the day wears on and I have to use artificial lights to match the light level. So I must think of the risk factors, as well
cinemascope today we have the choice of using Super 16, a relatively new stock, it gives excellent results even if blown up to 35 mm. The quality is much better compared to the older 16 mm stocks.
as what exactly my director wants me to do. In terms of visualization, though, I have my own ideas, I keep a strict watch so that they do not move way ahead of what my director wants to achieve. I give suggestions of course, and in most cases my suggestions are accepted. For me it is always a learning experience. As I move from film to film I grow as a technician and artiste. What about the choice of lenses, camera angles, shot-planning? Depends entirely on the subject. I prefer daylight 250D, 64D for outdoors real location. The one you see now, 500D is my favourite. Another choice is Reala 500D Fuji. My application and uses of lenses depend on the format I am using. Today there is a lot of demand for cinemascope, but it creates problems with lens selection. What kind of camera I am getting for shooting is also very important. Nowadays we get Arri 3 with Kowa lens. I am always very comfortable with Kodak stock, always. In cinemascope the block lens option is very limited, you get only four, but I feel about six or seven would have been much easier. It all depends on the budget of the film.
What about the compromise you may have to do in order to deal with a tough situation? No, I am very much against compromise, it is not good for shooting or quality of work. We have a fixed schedule which we have to keep up. As I told you before, the sun may fade, and we have to simulate sunlight. And for any real location, a number of hazards are always there which you cannot think of beforehand. But then, I have to fight it out, no choice. But I feel shooting a night scene in broad daylight is very painful for a cinematographer. It so often happens, I plan for a daylight sequence, then as I go to the location, the director may say, a small night scene is needed first, and that is the final nail-in-the-coffin for me! Then I have to use black cloth to shut out all possible daylight streaming in within the house or room. Or as I am shooting a day-sequence, the lightlevel suddenly falls, then I have to get the extra bit of light from artificial sources. Where does Reliance MediaWorks as a lab and set-up come in? I have worked with other labs in Chennai or Mumbai. But now that we have this 24hour lab in Kolkata things have become much more easier. The exposed stock is picked up by Reliance MediaWorks people and sent right off for processing. So that I get to see the rushes within the same evening. This is a very great advantage in terms of
colour correction or grading. I can talk to the lab-in-charge who is professionally very efficient, our Banerjeeda, and I can see it at telecine in the evening. Overall the kind of expert help I am getting at the Kolkata lab is excellent. Their technical efficiency, quality of processing does not leave any space for criticism. Another great advantage we would get within the next tw0-three months, as Mr. J. K. Roy assured me, is Liquid Gate Print. You have been working with Bappa all along. Do you feel he is special in any way from the others in terms of directorial capacity and talent? The way Bappa visualizes his shots, and his dialogues are very good. What he wants to achieve in terms of visuals is very clear. We understand each other very well. And, he is technically very sound. Most of the time we have to manage in a shoestring budget. In the first film, Sampradan, I saw how he was handling the lighting pattern, his clear conception of what it should be like helped me a lot. What lens, what raw stock we must use, he is always clear about it. He even cuts budgets from other overheads to accommodate what I want to do. What about the directorial styles of the other directors you have worked with? Look, each single director has his own working style. The way Basuda thinks is different from another director. Say we have a composite shot. There, instead of using the other character’s point of view, he would use a totally different camera angle and placement, it is his own director’s point of view he would use. It thus differs from director to director.
“I am very much against compromise, it is not good for shooting or quality of work.” Is budget constraint a standard problem? Budget problem is always there. I may have to finish the film within, say, 20 days. The budget would only allow me that much and no more. then I may have to work using more shifts. If I cannot afford 35mm
Reliance MediaWorks Establishes UK Presence The acquisition of London based iLabs to offer front-end, processing, restoration, 2D-to-3D and postproduction services
eliance MediaWorks Ltd., India’s fastest growing film and entertainment services company and a member of the Reliance ADA group has expanded and strengthened its international presence with the opening of a dedicated film and media services facility in London, UK that will offer front-end, processing, restoration, 2D to 3D conversion and post-production services to Broadcasters and Studios. Reliance MediaWorks has acquired the assets of ilab UK Ltd., one of only two film processing facilities operating in London’s SOHO. The highly regarded ilab has been the lab of choice for high end processing for film, television, commercial and shorts productions. Commenting on this international expansion, Anil Arjun, CEO of Reliance MediaWorks said, “Our expansion is growing at a remarkable pace and we are
happy to now be offering our services in UK, one of the world’s leading postproduction markets. Through Reliance MediaWorks UK we would provide next generation services for the local film makers and broadcasters, while also catering to Hollywood and Hindi film businesses.” “The acquisition of iLabs not only allows us to strengthen our services portfolio in UK, but we are also fortunate to gain talent, experience and local learning that ilabs team brings onboard. We look forward to the creative synergies that integrating of UK operations would bring to the entire film and media services value chain that Reliance MediaWorks has developed across continents” Arjun added. Reliance MediaWorks UK has already secured image processing and restoration work for two high profile projects from leading UK broadcasters at Reliance MediaWork’s LA-based subsidiary Lowry Digital, Hollywood’s leading film restoration expert. Lowry Digital has handled projects for leading studios like Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures, MGM and 20th Century Fox and entertainment leaders like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. Also recently, Lowry Digital has handled the restoration of footage sent back to Earth from Apollo 11, as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the mission for NASA.
Reliance MediaWorks UK, can both offer high end services within its own facility, as well as tapping into the quality and scale of services available through Reliance MediaWorks’ operations in India and US. To further enhance the synergy between the services offered by Reliance MediaWorks across three continents, the company has established an optical fibre network, first of its kind, through Reliance Globalcom’s Ethernet Private Line. This network has already been used for close to a year for distributing digital cinema releases of Indian films from Mumbai to the US. In the past year, ilabs has been the rushes house of choice for the majority of highend film originated Drama Series for the BBC and offers bespoke, specialist rushes service night and day for the commercials, feature and broadcast market. Apart from tying in with RMW’s lab facility in Mumbai, it will be able to offer lab, rushes and transfer services to the many Indian films that are shot on location in London and UK each year. Reliance MediaWorks currently has a dominant and comprehensive presence in Film Services: Motion Picture Processing and DI; Visual Effects; Film Restoration and Image Enhancement; Digital Mastering: Studios and Equipment rentals with facilities located at US and India.
contact us MUMBAI
Reliance MediaWorks Limited, Film City Complex, Goregaon (East), Mumbai - 400 065. Tel: +91 22 2842 3333 / 4488 Contacts Chief Operating Officer (Processing and Digital Lab):
Reliance MediaWorks Limited, No. 9A, Kumaran Colony Main Road, Vadapalani, Chennai - 600 026. Tel: +91 44 2362 1049 / 3483 Fax: +91 44 2362 1050 Contact: Chandramohan Pany Email: Chandramohan.Pany@relianceada.com
Reliance MediaWorks Limited, Plot No. 12, Block AQ -Sector IV & V, Salt Lake City, Kolkata - 700 091 Tel: +91 33 3293 4229 / 4234 Fax: +91 33 2367 5212 Contact: Jayanta Ray Email: Jayanta.K.Ray@relianceada.com
Business Development (Processing Lab): Vishal.Rajan@relianceada.com
Head - Studios & Rentals :
Chief Operations Officer (Digital Cinema): Patrick.Vons@relianceada.com
First Quarter , 2010