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

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