A few years back when I was planning a road trip to Kerala, a friend of mine asked me whether I am tracing the road I travelled through to reach here. In a way he was correct. That’s why I call this a journey. It was a long journey, a long winding road with junctions, signals, roadblocks, potholes and no roads at times.
Cinema was the in thing in my childhood. The mystery of camera capturing images fascinated me tremendously. But the land of cinema was a faraway dream for a small boy from a small village in Kerala. The way to the dreamland came through FTII after my graduation.
The eve before the interview I walked into the theatre to watch ‘Man of Marble’ by Andre Vajda. After two hours I walked out of the theatre completely bewildered. It was an entirely alien experience for someone who has seen only Indian cinema and experienced world cinema only through reading. That was the beginning, the window to a world of new experience in art, education, culture, people etc
It was only natural for an FTIIan to land up in Mumbai after Pune.
The big city.
I hated cities. I hated the crowd, the traffic and more than anything else, no place to stay. But I had other reasons to be here. I loved travelling. The only place where I could pick up projects which took me out of Bombay was Bombay. I chose projects which took me out. I travelled extensively all over India. In between, I had to pick up work in Bombay also. In one of those projects, I was talking to the DoP during lunch...
DP- “There are house plots available in Andheri east for 1 lakh. You should get some money and buy one. You can make a house later”
Me- “Oh... I don’t want a house in Bombay. I’ll go back to Kerala.”
DP- “What’s the timing of the Kerala train?”
Me- “Jayanthi Janata leaves at 5.30 pm from Dadar.”
DP- “Good it’s 3.30 now. Leave right now, you can catch that train”
Me- “But I don’t want to leave today. I’ll leave later after this project is over.”
DP- “If you don’t leave now, you’ll never leave.”
I laughed. He didn’t laugh.
After two decades I am sitting by the window of my Mumbai house wondering what happened.....
What really happened......
Over a hundred documentaries for channels in India, BBC and The National Film Board of Canada..
Hundreds of hours of fiction for television..
Many many commercials..
and Feature films like 3 Idiots, Johnny Gaddaar, Lege raho Munnabhai, Ek hasina Thi, Panipat etc..
‘Colours Black’ a documentary directed by Mamata Murthy won the Grand Prix at the 9TH biennial Festival of Moving Images, Geneva in 2001.
‘A very very silent film’ directed by Manish Jha won the Jury award at the Cannes film festival in 2002.
Dozens of music videos for artists like Sonu Nigam, Jagjit Singh, Shibani Kashyap, Adnan Sami etc.
Dozens of telefilms for projects like ‘Kagar’, ‘Cover Story’, ‘Suraag’ etc.
Short films with directors like Rajkumar Hirani, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Maya Rao, Umesh Padalkar and many others for 'Star Bestseller' series.
A collection of six short films directed by Ketan Mehta,
Documentary series on North-East for Bhupen Hazarika & Kalpana Lajmi........
.........................Just to mention a few.
Research on 'Practice of Cinematography in India' for IFA
2010 - IIFA award for Best cinematography for ‘3 Idiots’
2015 - Fiji International Film Festival Best Cinematography award for 'PK'.
2021 - Jury member for Kerala State Film Awards.