Saturday, December 22, 2007

Portfolio making

Acting students were more friendly with us Cinematography students for the simple reason that most of our practical classes were with them only. Also they required our help in getting themselves photographed and making their portfolios. When they pass out from the Institute they showed these portfolios to Producers to catch their attention. Instead of going to Professional Photographers who charge huge amounts, they can get it done for pea nuts. Just buy some film and printing paper, and your friendly cinematography student will get the job done for you.

An interesting thing was I never owned a camera during my entire period at the Institute. I used to borrow the cameras from K.R. Muthy ( Yashica 635 - which can be used with 120 as well as 35 mm film) Prem Upadhyay ( Asahi Pentax with 135 mm Tele lens) and K.K. Jaiswal ( Kodak Retina Range Finder Camera with 55 mm lens) .

I had taken the Portfolios of Tshring P (Danny) Denzongpa and Anil Dhawan, but I do not have the negatives of Danny with me.

Anil Dhawan ( 1970)

Asha Chandra was working as Part time Instructor in Acting at that time and on her request I also took some photographs of her for her portfolio.

Asha Chandra

Bhaskar Chandavarkar was the Assistant Professor of Music and he used to give Sitar recital programmes too. For a brochure for Engineering College Past Students Association (EPSA) Poona,  he needed some photographs and I took some photos. I recopied them on sound positive film to make high contrast prints . which was used as the cover. Later on he did the Music Direction for K.G.George's Debut Malayalam Film SWAPNADANAM for which I did Cinematography. For the film SWAPNADANAM Chandavarkar got the Kerala State Award for Best Music Director (1975) and K.G.George for the Best film of 1975.

Bhaskar Chandavarkar

Cover Page  
Inside Page
Being a Malayalee, though she was my junior, I had taken the photos of Jameela Malik (1971) too. Later on she had acted as the main lead in my Malayalam Film RAGGING ( 1973)

Jameela Malik (1971)

Friday, December 21, 2007


Imagine putting four or five beautiful girls among a number of boys as in the case of the Film Institute. Every one will make a stampede to get their attention and chances are there that even fights might erupt among the rivals. But this dilemma was solved quite cleverly and easily by the girls joining the Institute and especially from the ones in the Acting course.

As soon as they joined the Institute they formed a “pair” with a male student, preferably from the same course. You can call the relationship as boy friend in terms of the present day usage. The boy took it as his duty to escort the girl to the hostel, take her to the canteen or to outside restaurants or just sit under the wisdom tree and talk endlessly. In general he won’t leave the girl alone not even for a moment so there won’t be a chance for anybody else. Even if it so happens that the girl is alone, no one will bother her as it is common knowledge that she has some one to care for her.
It so happened that one such “pair” modeled for our Still photography practical even though one of them belonged to the Second year acting course. Normally the first year acting students model for the stills. But this was an exception. Watch out carefully, you are in for a surprise!

Can you identify the persons? They are too far off

This one is Bhaskar Chaudhuri (1969 – Acting Batch)

and the other is ........ Jaya Bhaduri (1970 - Acting Batch)

Jaya Bhaduri and Bhaskar Chaudhuri
There was one more pair from our batch Rashmi Sharma and Ani Dhawan ( Acting - 1970) but sorry, I do not have any photograph with me! Their example of pairing was followed by girls students from other courses too!

More about Jaya Bhaduri can be found in Surendar Chawdhary's Blog.

Face defects correction - camera angle and lighting

No face is perfect by birth. Even the most beautiful face will have some minor defects. By make up you can cover up some skin blemishes and by shading up certain areas the face shape can be moulded better. The cameraman's skill lies in discovering the facial defects and rectifying them through the choice of proper angle and lighting. We used to get some models with long or short noses and try correcting it with lighting and camera angles.

To illustrate on how to do it Shri.G.B.Kulkarni, our instructor showed us some photographs of Rita Saluja ( later on known as Radha Saluja ), taken in the previous year's class' exercise.


She is lit with a low lighting which is not at all flattering.

A Profile Shot

In Flat Light

A Finished Portrait

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Modelling for Photographs

As part of our Still Photography practical, we were not provided models to sit for us to do the lighting as we were just novices learning slowly the art of lighting. We have to use our own classmates as models and take the photographs. here are some such photos.

Surendra Sahu

S.K.Jolly and Harish Gupta

At a later stage, when we have become proficient in doing the lighting some outsiders are provided as models.

R.S Agarwal and Surendra Sahu with a model

I too sat as a model for some of my friends. Here is one in which I am with one of my own water colour painting

Myself with my Painting

The First year Acting Students and some times from the Second Year too will come and face our cameras during our practicals. Thus they can also learn to be confident in front of lights and camera and present their best sides. See how Jaya Bhaduri looked in her First Year

Jaya Bhaduri

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Distinguished Visitors at the Institute

Often you can find distinguished persons from various fields of Art visiting the Institute to give lectures and to interact with the students to share their views and experiences. Notable among them is Mrinal Da ( Bengali Film Director Mrinal Sen ) who is a regular visitor who can be often found under the Wisdom Tree or in the canteen seriously discussing with the students. In those days they were given accommodation in the Guest rooms above the offices. Many a times the students used to barge into their rooms to meet them at unscheduled hours and they smilingly accepted our intrusion.

Often such meetings grew into future collaborations in film projects too. In my case I met the great Malayalam Novelist and Scriptwriter M.T. Vasudevan Nair for the first time, when he came there as Guest lecturer. Later when he made his debut as director with the President’s Gold medal winning Malayalam film “NIRMALYAM”, he wanted me as his Cinematographer, even though I was just a novice. He could have just got any of the top ranking cinematographer from the film industry for his maiden Directorial venture. But he preferred me! He still treats me like a younger brother and I had been the cinematographer for several films directed and scripted by him. Similarly I met the award winning Malayalam Director P.N.Menon also for the first time, when he came there with his film ”KUTTIYEDATHI”. After passing out from the Institute I did two films with him.

I fondly remember the meeting the Maestro Satyajit Ray at his room along with K.K.Jaiswal and other friends. He gave us a patient hearing and shared with us his experiences in making films. Here is a record of that meeting.

My self at the feet of the Master

On another occasion I along with my senior M.Azad ( Screen play writing - 1970) and other friends met the well known Bengali actor of many Satyajit Ray films, Soumitra Chatterjee in his room. Here is a photo taken at that time – I being the person behind the camera and hence not seen in the picture.

Azad( in white shirt), Dula Chandra Roy (Editing -1970) with Soumitra Chatterjee

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Friends from Kerala

Having come from the South and with little knowledge of Hindi, I was looking forward to find birds of the same feather. As I have studied in Tamil Nadu I was more familiar with Tamil Language and was looking for some Tamil sounding names. There was Bala Mahendran ( who later changed his name into Balu Mahendra) from Ceylon in Motion Picture Photography and he appeared to be a Tamil guy, but in his French beard, he was found to be mostly mixing with the Foreign students. I tried speaking to him in Tamil, though he understood it, he mostly replied in English. Then there was Swaminathan in Editing from Calcutta with whom I used to strike up some conversation.

Of course there were many Keralites and since my mother tongue is Malayalam I could easily communicate with them all, even though I could not read or write the language.

We even presented a group song on stage, on some special occasion

Standing from L to R : John Abraham ( Direction) M.Azad ( Screen Play Writing), Ramachandra babu ( Motion Picture Photography) , Kabeer Rowther ( Direction), K.G.George ( Direction), Suresh Babu ( Editing), Bhaskar Unni ( Editing & Direction) and G.S Panikkar ( Direction)