Friday, June 3, 2011

John Abraham plans his first Feature film

When the strike at the Institute got extended for a long time, our parents were instructed by the authorities to take us back home, to cool our tempers. While at home I was informed that John Abraham is planning to direct a Malayalam film based on a script by M. Azad and both of them were at Madras. So I went there and met them. They had in mind to have S. Ramachandra as the Cinematographer for the film as he was a close friend and room mate of Azad. They have offered me an opportunity to work as an assistant cameraman in that film. Since I have still not completed the course and was looking for an opening to enter the film industry, I readily agreed to their proposal so that I can get familiar with the working methods in Malayalam films.

Azad and John in serious discussion

In a jovial mood

The producer was Mr. Minnal, who was running an AD Agency called Mars Advertising Company located at 49, Wallajah Road, Triplicane. The Malayalam film titled "VIDYARTHIKALE ITHILE ITHILE" was to be produced under the banner Mehboob Movies. At that time both John and Azad were staying there in the office itself and were working on the script as the dates of the shooting schedule have not yet been fixed.

After my return to the Institute the strike prolonged for some more time and finally ended as the Government had agreed to constitute an enquiry commission. Our courses were nearing completion and I was wondering about the future, whether to try my luck in the Bombay film industry or in the Madras film field. In those days Film Institute graduates had a tough time finding work as they were thought to have only bookish knowledge and no practical experience. They had to struggle for some years assisting the veterans in the industry before they get a break. Though I was offered a job at the Hindustan Thompson AD agency, I declined because the work involved was only making sample films in 16mm for clients to view and I was more interested in doing feature films.

I was thinking of going down south at Madras which was a much familiar city to me as I had done my graduation from Loyola College there. Also there was no language problem too as I had my schooling in Tamil medium. Then I received a letter from John and Azad saying that they have decided to give me a break in the film as the principal cinematographer! It came as a great surprise as I was offered this film directly without working as an assistant to anybody at any capacity in the film industry and that too before the completion of my final examinations. I was really lucky indeed to have got such an easy entry in films ! I asked my old room mate and batch mate Kasturi Ramachandra Murthy, who was also keen on going to Madras to work as my assistant in the film and he readily agreed to my proposal and joined me.

Letter from John

After a few days I received the official letter from the producer confirming that the shooting is scheduled from 5 th June 1971 on wards and I was expected to be in Madras on the 1st of June to attend the pre-production work.

Producer's Letter

My Practical Examinations and Viva Voce were not over when I started my career as a Cinematographer in the film industry. After shooting the first schedule of the film, myself and Murthy returned to Poona finish our exams!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking us along with you through the memory lane!