It is with a painful heart that I write these words on learning that my dear mentor and friend Ramu (Cinematographer S. Ramachandra) had left this world on the 10 th January, 2011. He was one of the first few persons with whom I came in to contact at the Film Institute of India in 1968, when I joined in the Motion picture Photography course. He was then studying in the second year Motion picture Photography course and was the room mate of M. Azad (Screenplay writing Course). Hailing from Kerala, my seniors Azad and Kabeer Raother (Direction) took natural interest in me and was always there to help me to cope with the new environment at the Institute. Being the room mate of Azad and a fellow South Indian, he joined them to become my local guardians at Poona. Ramu, as I used to call him, was a charming personality with attractive eyes and long hair. He was very much attached to his friend and room mate, M. Azad and vice -verse.
When Azad got his first break as Script writer for John Abraham’s maiden Malayalam film “VIDYARTHIKALE ITHILE ITHILE”(1972) , he had in mind to engage Ramu as its Cinematographer. During the pre-production days they asked me whether I was willing to work as assistant to him in that film and I readily agreed with their offer. But later on finding too many scenes to be shot in the streets with hand held camera they thought Ramu might find it difficult to cope up with his Polio affliction. Ultimately they asked me to be their Cinematographer and I got my first break in the Malayalam film industry. Since John and Azad never had any previous discussion regarding the project with Ramu, he never came to know about it!
Myself and Ramu used to get in touch with each other through letters – he writes long and interesting letters –which arrive after long intervals. We also used to occasionally meet with each other at some of the International Film Festival venues. I remember one occasion, when he came to International Film Festival of Kerala with the film DWEEPA (1982) along with Director Girish Kasaravalli and the late Actress Producer Soundarya. We had a wonderful time catching up with each other's activities. The last time I met him was at Bangaluru in 2006 when he was felicitated by the Suchitra Film Society for being honoured with Karanataka Government Lifetime Achievement Award. At that time I was attending the Bangalore International Film Festival where my short film “CINEKU” was being screened. Afterwards at the party at the Cricket Stadium we renewed our friendship by filling up missing details regarding our work and news about mutual friends.
Last year while I was working in the Malayalam film “INGANAYUM ORAAL” for the first time with our old mutual friend Director Kabeer Raother, he inquired about Ramu’s whereabouts. From the shooting location I called Ramu at Bangaluru and handed over the phone to Kabeer as a surprise. That was the last time I had talked with him. I never had any hint that he was fighting a deadly enemy like cancer and it came as a big shock to me that he had passed away so suddenly. I felt as if I had lost somebody from my own family, for he was so close to my heart as friend, philosopher and guide.
I convey my heartfelt grief and condolences to Ramu’s bereaved family members and friends and pray for his soul to Rest In Peace.
A brief Bio-data :
S. Ramachandra (Shivaramaiah Ramachandra Aithal ) passed out from the Film Institute of India, Poona in 1970. He along with Directors like B.V.Karanth, Girish Karnad, G.V.Iyer and Girish Kasaravalli were the architects of the new wave Kannada cinema movement which took the Kannada film industry to heights during the seventies. S.Ramachandra started off his career as a cinematographer in films with SANKALPA directed by Nanjaraja Urs.
He won the Best cameraman award five times and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Karnataka State government in 2006. He won National Film Award for Best Cinematography in 1977 for Kannada film RISHYA SHRINGA. He had worked as a cinematographer in many films directed by Girish Kasaravalli which brought him much appreciation. He started off working with Girish in his first Swarna Kamal award winning film GHATASHRADHDHA. Later he worked in MANE, KROURYA, NAAYI NERALU, HASEENA and GULABI TALKIES. He was one of the pillars of the New Wave cinema movement in the Kannada film industry. His work in the TV series MALGUDI DAYS (1987) translated in to visuals the writings of the great writer R.K.Laxman and made millions of viewers from all over India to stay glued to their T.V sets feeling as if they were living in the village of Malgudi!
Even a few days before his death, he worked in BETTADA JEEVA directed by well known award winning director P. Sheshadri. This is perhaps his last film as a cinematographer.
This is a partial list of films:
Chomana Dudi (1975)
Rushya Shringa (1976)
Malgudi Days(1987) TV series
Santha Shishunala Sharief,
Mudhudidha Tavara Aralithu