Monday, January 28, 2008

My Batchmates and Other Friends

First let me start with the local guys - the always jovial Debu Deodhar ( I always saw him with a permanent laughter on his face) and the quiet R.S Agarwal. They were from Poona and being day scholars we missed their company after study hours. There were two foreign students, Prem Upadhyay from Nepal and Naapo Gbande from Ghana. Prem was almost like an Indian spoke Hindi very well and mixed with all students. Behind the serious looking face of Naapo there was a friendly heart. Below is a photo with him and David Ankora, also from Ghana (Sound – 1971 Batch.)

David Ankora, myself and Naapo Gbande

Surendra Sahu from Orissa, was another fun person to be with and a great friend. Whenever he used to come to Madras, if I am in town we used to meet and exchange letters often. Then there are those Punjabi Trio Anil Dhanda, S.K.Jolly and Harish Gupta, who were boisterous with their Punjabi humour and down to earth nature. Once Anil Dhanda went to Nanded Gurudwara as part of a Documentary Student crew and had brought for me a Stainless steel Kada. Ever since then, I had been wearing that in my right hand and had not removed it even for a single day! I should not leave out dear Venugopal Thakkar though hailing from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, he was more of a North Indian speaking Hindi very well.

On the whole our batch mates were a very friendly and cohesive group of guys and definitely we had a great time of togetherness at the Institute which remains still green in my memories.

Of course there are others in various departments about whom I'll write later on as and when the time comes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

JAISWAL - My Friend

Of the many friends at the Institute my classmate K.K. Jaiswal stands out as a special person for me. We all got instantly attracted by his sense of humour and rural innocence. He was always jovial, making fun of people and often finds himself being made fun of too. Coming from Allahabad, he was a typical Bhaiya from U.P. with rustic charm and sense of humour. He was always the Joker of the class. Dulal Roy, one of the Editing Students named him Jassu Lal Popatlal Pant. Even as of date, Debu calls him Jassu. Throughout the years, after passing from the Institute in 1971, he kept in contact with me and other friends and regularly sent New Year Greetings or letters keeping in touch with me. Often when I needed to contact any one from our batch, he used to provide me with their whereabouts. Whenever he came down south he used to call me up and I used to inform him about my visits to Bombay. At Bombay he will call up our common friends like Debu Deodhar and Venugopal Thakkar, so that we can have a reunion. Given below is one such reunion which took place at Cinematographers Combine's seminar at Mumbai a few years back.

Myself, Debu Deodhar and K.K.Jaiswal

While at the Institute he took his studies seriously and scored well in the examinations at the end of the First year. At that time ORWO film company was giving a Scholarship for the student who stood First in the class, which happened to be me. But I already was receiving a State Government Scholarship and I had the option of choosing any one of them. I chose the State Government Scholarship so that Jaiswal who was second in order could get the ORWO scholarship. During one of the vacations Jaiswal visited my home at Maduranthakam in Tamil Nadu and stayed there for a few days as my guest, and the picture below was taken during that visit.

Jaiswal (extreme Right) with my brothers, Parents and Grand Mother

He also visited Mahabalipuram and other places too and I hope to get those photos too. Years later during my Visits to Mumbai, whenever possible he used to take me home and I had stayed in his home and experienced the warmth of the hospitality of his parents.

The latest meeting we had was in 2005 when I visited the Institute to conduct a lighting workshop. It might sound odd, but the fact is I never visited my Alma Mater after I graduated from there until December 2005. That was thanks to Jaiswal who insisted that I should come there at any cost. It was a great opportunity to be back at the Institute and to meet some of the old friends like Surendar Chawdhary and other graduates. I also met once again my friend Virendra Saini who was there during my short visit.

Virendra Saini and Me

At present Jaiswal is working as an External Faculty at the Institute in the Cinematography Department

Friday, January 11, 2008

My room mate and friend - K.R. Murthy

After living for some months in a lodge with some Assamese students of different college, I came to know that there was some vacancy in a room at some distance away from the Institute, Ramachandra Murthy, my class mate was staying in a garage converted room at one end of Prabhat Road with another student from the Institute (neither I nor Murthy could remember the name). Any how I found it better as I could stay with known people and communicate with each other. Moreover Murthy had an electric heater on which he some times cooked food too! The asbestos roofing was hot during day and was quite cold in the winter months and the only consolation was that it was situated at walking distance from the Institute. During that time I had my first encounter with the Winter in Poona, hailing from the warmer climate of southern part of India.

Later in the second year we both got hostel accommodation in a double room and we continued to be room mates. In our final year also we found ourselves together in the same Unit and used to assist each other in film shootings.

Murthy assisting me during my Diploma Film

Murthy became a good friend of mine as he was calm and patient by nature, a vegetarian and had no vices. His endearing nature and perfectionist habits was liked by everybody. He had a lot of interest in things mechanical and soon became a disciple of Shri. Kulkarni, our Instructor. On his spare time he joined Kulkarni Saab and can be seen repairing cameras, lenses etc. Even when Kulkarni Saab came to Chennai after retirement, Murthy used to visit his camera maintenance workshop and repair things down there. Even some of us used to seek his help in fixing minor defects in exposure meters or still cameras.

I did my debut film while in my final year ( more of it later) and I asked Murthy whether he would like to assist me in my feature film work down in south. He agreed and was assisting me for the film being shot at Madras. During my film shooting Balu Mahendra happened to come to Madras and he met both of us there. When Balu's debut film commenced, he requested Murthy to assist him. That was the beginning of a long association with Balu which Murthy still retains. Balu wanted Murthy especially for his expertise in fixing up things. In those days at Madras, films were shot using Academy aperture (1:1.33) and Balu wanted to shoot in Widescreen (1:1.66). But Widescreen format Camera gates were not available at all. Murthy found a solution by masking the upper and bottom portions of the camera gate with very thin copper foil. But there was always a danger of the copper strips displaced especially when the magazine is allowed to run out. In that case it had to be re-fixed again. It was Murthy's job to see that the masking foil is always in proper place all the time. And Murthy became indispensable for Balu!

Murthy had also done several feature films independently as Director of Photography in Malayalam and Telugu. Some of his films are ATHITHI (Dir: K.P.Kumaran - Malayalam) SAPTHPATHI (Dir: K.Viswanath - Telugu)

He started growing a beard in the final year and keeps it up still!

He lives in Chennai and we meet occasionally whenever I visit there. Recently I met him on New Year's day 2008.

Murthy and me at SICA Conference 2007

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Trip to Mahabaleshwar

In the first year as part of our still photography practical we have to take candid, Advertisement, landscape photographs etc. We used to go out early in the mornings to photograph the misty street scenes. We roamed around in the city parks, markets, festivals to capture some candid moments.

A trip for all of us was organized to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani for landscape photography. On reaching there we all enthusiastically joined in the fun and hired bicycles to travel around in the nearby villages. Unfortunately I did not have enough experience in riding a bicycle and was poor in keeping myself balanced. Still I took a ride bravely and managed it until I reached a downhill road and was picking up speed. A truck was coming up and I got frightened and became extra careful. Ultimately I ended up in a roadside ditch but fortunately there was no damage!

At a Scenic View Point