I got an invitation from 'ODESSA MOVIES',started by the famous director John Abraham, to present a paper on cinematography at their cinema workshop in Kerala.
I decided to prepare for the same and started looking for materials in National Film Archive and FTII library. That’s when I realized there’s not much available on Indian cinematography or on it’s practitioners.
There’s stuff available on actors, directors, singers and music directors. That’s it. Our idea of history of Indian cinema ends there. Media or historians don’t look any further. So the developments in the aesthetics of visuals, sound design, art direction, make up etc are never discussed , analysed or documented.
I couldn’t find much in the archives.
Anyway I prepared a paper. I couldn’t go and present the paper at the workshop because I had started assisting Anup Jotwani on Ketan Mehta’s “Maya Mehmsab”. R V Ramani from Chennai presented the paper for me at the workshop.
But I started toying with the idea of doing a research on cinematography in india.
Couple of years later during a documentary shoot I suggested this idea to Jeebesh, Monica and Shuddha of ‘Raqs Media Collective’. Within few months we prepared a proposal and submitted it to IFA. Soon we got an approval and started our work. It took us almost three years to do the interviews travelling to different cities on a minimum budget.
IFA funding was limited to finishing the research.We had dreams of coming up with a book, but we had to find money and a publisher for it. As time pass by I got busy with Bollywood and they got busy with Sarai in Delhi. After Sarai was set up we decided to upload the material on it so that others could use it.
Till today, I think this is probably the only serious study done on cinematography and the people behind it in India.
Below you will find interviews with the cinematographers and other people related to cinematography, along with documents we prepared during our research process. These documents can be downloaded free for educational purposes.
I request you to give due credit to,
"The research named, 'The History and Practice of Cinematography in India' conducted by Muraleedharan.C.K and 'Raqs Media Collective' (Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Monica Nerula and Jeebesh Bagchi) along with 'India Foundation for the Arts.'
Subrata Mitra (Audio)
This recording was done on 30th January 1997. Dada was never comfortable sharing his experiences. So the recording is in patches and stops abruptly. Due to the same reasons we never made it public. After so many years when I listen to it now, I realise it has immense value for students of cinema. I am sure he would have been happy to share it today.