Nowhere Else In The World People Clap For Cinematographers: Ravi K Chandran

By Editorial Team • Published on October 8, 2007

Sanjay Leela bhansali prefers to guard Saawariya with all his heart, which only tends to whet one’s appetite for more. And more Tarang Tasweer got from the man who wove magic through the lens – Ace Cinematographer Ravi K Chandran

Ravi K Chandran and Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of SaawariyaAs we stepped out of the lift on the 13th floor , Ravi K Chandran was finishing his chit chat with two assistants. Humble and with his eyes shining through the glasses he sat down with us to talk of saawariya and its look. And much to our surprise in the first question he revealed that he had actually backed out of the film when Sanjay Leela Bhansali announced his plan of shooting outdoors.

“Outdoor ..night.. I am not coming for this film because it is difficult to shoot through the rain!The set had š to stand andš we had new comers . So I told Sanjay I am not doing this film , please look for another cameraman . In fact he evenš looked for another cameraman . But thenš  he asked me the solution for shooting through rains and I told him put the set indoors. After Sanjay spoke to the art director about my advise, theš  art directorš actuallyš came and had a fight with me.š š What are you doing? he asked. However,š at the end they all agreed to put the set indoor! “

The film’s frames make you realize the vastness of space . And so the search was also for a BIG studio. ” We found a very big place in India which is the ND Studios .We did extensive tests on set designs and evenš made miniatures of the sets ”

Quizzing him on the Raj Kapoor feel in the promo with the bridge, rain and water he revealed “we shot the film as if it is happening at a place where Haridwar meets Jodhpur, the blue town so it has got blue and the river , river runs through .. ” The film also used a lot of smoke to get its painterly look but none of the smoke appears because of SPACE LIGHTS.

Ravi K Chandran“Initially when we bought the lights I used themš in some ad shootsš to figure out how itš  looked . In fact Rishi Kapoor came to our sets andš afterš seeing theš lights he joked if we would be able to see faces in theš these lights!š š And now whenš he met me the other day he appreciated the lights I had used and said they were fantastic.But this is allš because of the Sanjay Leeela Bhansali(SLB)”š  Had it not been for SLB it would never have happened . I don’t think any other producer would have agreed for the game.”

Both Ravi and Bhansali were in perfect sync “SLB Never changed any frame , its bang on , that sync was there . It as very easy for me to communicate without communicating too much” .

As the conversation reels on he goes on to add another first to the film ” Black we did not haveš songs . This is the first time I am picturising songs with Mr. Bhansali.š  He is a master of song picturisation ” . What about the newcomers .. you have known them as assistants ?š  I asked ” We all worked as assistants . In fact once Ranbir came to pick me up from the airport , I asked him if he was from a film family and he did not say anything. This speaks of his humility.” “My job is to make them look as good as possible so we really took care of their looks. If you seeš  from Shahrukh to Aamir , from Madhuri to Sridevi, all of them š look awkward in their initial films. It took time and getting over many difficulties before the flaws in camera angles were eliminated for them.”. Butš whatš doesš Ravi think of the star kids..š “After a long time star kids are coming. The last was Hrithik and Abhishek . Now if you want a college student who will you cast .. so you have Ranbir.”

From Saawariya back to Black, he recalls how Amitabh Bachchan wanted to re-do one of the shots . “Sanjay is very meticulous. after 70 days of shooting in Black, Amitabh Bachchan wanted to correct one scene in Black , he felt he didn’t deliver it as he wanted to .. but I didn’t want to do it. I don’t like to reshoot”.

Ravi K Chandran who has spent 20 years in the industry has also an unhappy fact to share about bollywood .

“Whenever I walk into a theatre people come and take autographs. People recognize you by name. In fact cameramen from south are theš most well knownš cameramen in the country .. Santosh Sivan.. because cinematographers from south are respected more. Mani Ratnam gives respect. P Sreeram .. people clap , nowhere else in the world people clap for cinematographers when their name comes. Thats the kind of recognition we get. Here we have to struggle to get our name on the poster”

But he also gives credit to the master director without whom no matter how good a cinematographer is, he will not be able to create the magic in the frame ” Any cameraman in India got here not because of talent but because of good director. With good director cameramen get name. SLB , Farhan Akhtar, Priyadarshan, when you do a film with a director who is not visually strong, you will not get the name.” . And now that Saawariya’s š first look and song is out , though thats a very small helping of saawariya , but Ravi K Chandran’s phone is buzzing with congratulatory calls . As he gives his last bytes ” For it is only one cameraman who knows the other cameraman’s plight . He knowsš  how difficult it is to achieve that look.”

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4 Responses to “Nowhere Else In The World People Clap For Cinematographers: Ravi K Chandran”

  1. Nikita Shah says:

    a truly unique perspective,tarang.
    thanks so much for sharing insights that generally pass untouched.

    : )

  2. Suchita B says:

    Thanx for the insight… great write up.. and great site

  3. anupama bose says:

    nice piece.
    it is good to read stuff which has been adequately researched and understood before being incorporated inti an article.
    at a time when film broadcast has been reduced to gossip and amateurishly written reviews such articles are welcome!

  4. yasser says:

    The research that went into writing this piece shows… good going tarang. Its a treat for cinema lovers as the glossy film magazines are always busy covering the stars, gossips n gloss, never covering such important stuff about the ‘real’ stars…

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