How do you feel about the success of 'Ashta Chemma'?
I am happy with the success of my recent cinematographic venture 'Ashta Chemma'. Firstly, I thank all the viewers for making it a success; I also express my gratitude to the producer Ram Mohan and director Mohana Krishna Indraganti who gave me this opportunity.
Tell us about your self
Photography and Painting has been my passion since my childhood. I took my Bachelors degree of Fine Arts in Photography from JNTU. During this period, I did my internship under popular cinematographer Madhu Ambat and later worked with him as an assistant for about 3-years. I have learnt pivotal aspects of cinematography with this eminent photographer. I came across Mohana Krishna during a film making and came to know that he is going to start a project on Chalam's work. Soon I was introduced as a cinematographer with this film 'Grahanam', that has brought recognition to me and it was a good experience doing this film.
What are the films you worked for, during the three years as an assistant to Madhu Ambat
In Hindi (Bollywood) Rajkumar Santhoshi's 'Lajja', then for 'Shakti' a remake of 'Badri' in the direction of Puri Jagannath. Followed by 'Kya Dil Ne Kaha' with Thushar Kapoor as hero and 'Chupkese'. I had an opportunity to meet established cinematographers during this time. I also had the chance to work with many of them.
Has any one inspired you to choose Cinematography as a profession
I have a passion for painting and photography from my childhood. I have won various prizes in painting competitions at school. Academically I have been a topper, but then I had a special interest in painting, and had a dream to study Fine Arts. Although qualified in the entrance to join in Agri.BSc/Veternary Sciences, my passion in painting & photography took me to joing BFA in JNTU. Here again I was qualified to join both painting and photography. At that time in Hyderabad, the FilmClub was screening the Hundred World's Best Cinemas, inspired by it I have opted for Photography. Intially when I was ignorant about photography, the works of Manirathnam kindled a flame of interest in me. Later I was inspired by Santhosh Sivan's photography and the works of Madhu Ambat. All these inspired me to take up the career of a Cameraman.
How did you get the opportunity to work for your first film 'Grahanam'
It was the time when the FilmClub was conducting a screening test. During this I was introduced to Mohana Krishna Indraganti by one of my friends Altaf. I have learnt that the director was planning a movie based on a short story. Later when I met Mohana Krishna, I was told that they prepared a subject based on famous writer Chalam's work 'Doshagunam'. He offered me to work as a cameraman and I accepted it immediately, as I have an eye work for subjects based on literary works.
Have you done any short film before 'Grahanam'
Yes, I have done quite a few short films. While I was working with Madhu Ambati, my friends used to offer me some short works, and during that time I did a short film 'Arab' in the direction of a person named Bhaskar. Then I did another short film 'Missing', with OldCity (of Hyderabad) as the backdrop, shot in 16mm. In fact Mohana Krishna offered me the work in 'Grahanam' after watching my 'Missing'.
In order to make a movie with wide scope for photography, what kind of a subject is required?
For any subject the vantage point is crucial. Director's aspect about the movie is of prominent importance for the film's photography. If one can make it with utmost dedication, whatsoever the subject might be it can be visualized in photography. To be more appropriate, visually narrative subjects will have a wide scope to make an impact with photography.
Have you ever thought - I should make this kind of a film as a cinematographer.
The movies 'Gladiator' and 'Lord of the Rings' both of which was narrated in a different eras in vast space, spurred a flame of excitement in me. I aspire to work in films of those kind as a cinematographer.
In your opinion what is the present state of photography?
In yester years say in 50's, in the time of Black & White films, there are many good flicks. In the mid times say after 50's & in 70's other divisions prevailed over photography. Now again the directors are giving more importance to photography. Recent days, many a young and aspiring cinematographers are given ample space to do films, which gives a whiff of fresh air to the industry.
The photography in 'Grahanam' and the recent 'Ashta Chemma' are entirely different, why so?
'Grahanam' is planned as a low-budget film. We have done the shooting with a digital 3CCD Camera. Instead of making a huge-budget experiment, we just aimed at making a film in this case. We have done 'Grahanam' with limited accessibility.
While the latest 'Ashta Chemma' is made as a main stream commercial movie. This is also a low budget film, made in a short span of just 44 days, on a fast track finish. Mohana Krishna had a clear clarity on the movie, and the budget was perfectly planned, hence we could finish it in just 44days.
The director you would like to work with.
I have no limitations for to shortlist and work with a particular director. I like working with any director packs a clear vision, whoever it might be.
As a cameraman, have you ever done any spot improvisations?
I do work in random movies, which I select based on the story. When I start the work, I try to completely understand the director's view/vision of the film first. If I feel that any changes are required, I will initiate a discussion with the director. If they feel that it is apt and logical, definitely the changes will be brought in at that time. So far I have done my every film this way, regarding to this issue I am thankful to all the directors I have worked with.
Right now what are the films you are working for?
Post 'Ashta Chemma' I have done 'Vinayakudu' in the direction of Saikiran Adivi. Followed by that I am working for 'Sneha Geetham' (tentative title) with a college backdrop. This film is being directed by Madhura Sridhar, and produced by Lagadapati Sridhar on Larsco Entertainments banner.
Nowadays cameramen are reforming as directors. Do you have such a thought?
If you observe the process of film-making, it is basically a team work involving many divisions which all lead to the top post of director. So it is but natural that any one in this industry will aspire to be a director. In my case, I have some future plans for myself, which I cannot unveil at this stage. Right now I am happy in this field of work . I have a goal to achieve in photography and direction is my latter choice after fulfilling this ambition.