OM PRAKASH – VIEW FINDER | The Hindu dt Oct 20, 2013

Image

Viewfinder
in focus Cinematographer Om Prakash talks to udhav naig about his experiences filming the Ajith-starrer Arrambam

When cinematographer Om Prakash was approached by Vishnuardhan for Arrambam, whose last film with Ajith Kumar (Billa) was talked about for its visual aesthetics, he immediately knew it was going to be a huge responsibility. “Every time I looked through the view finder, Vishnu’s films would keep appearing as if to remind me of my task,” he laughs. To ease the pressure, Om claims that he approached this film in the same way as he has his other films. “I always try to push the artistic boundaries that commercial cinema tries to restrict. I don’t make any compromise,” he says. This has always been his motto whether he is doing a big-budget Arrambam, which features a ‘mass’ actor, or non-mainstream films such as Vaagai Sooda Vaa and NaanayaM.

Views and hues
Inspired by the works of Italian cinematographer Vit-torio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, Little Buddha) and artist Van Gogh, Om admits that he likes to experiment
with colours. He believes that his job as a cinematographer is to translate the vision of the director on to screen. “The selection of a film’s colour tone is important.” he says, going on to ex-plain why he chose to give a red-tinted look for Vaagai Sooda Vaa. “The film was about how a guy goes to a poor village and educates the people there. I felt the colour red, traditionally associated with socialism and communism, would be apt for the film.” What has been his artistic contribution to Arrambam, which promises to be a action film? “Since Arrambam aims to raise consciousness about a social ill, I expressed my wish to give the visuals a green tint because the colour ‘green’ is commonly associated with prosperity and knowledge. I was able to implement my ideas because Vishnu (director) understood what I was trying to do,” he says and adds, “In some of the scenes featuring Ajith, we want the audience to see both him and his reflection. The idea behind this will be clear once the film re-leases. We have used hand-held cameras to shoot these
scenes from close quarters not because it would look fancy, but the script demand-ed such an approach.”
Reflecting moods
The film industry is such that artistic indulgence, however basic it may be, will not be encouraged. Talking specifically about cinema-tography, Om feels that there is always an insistence on keeping it flat and brightly lit. “Some expect everything to be lit in the same way irre-spective of the mood of the scene or the point of the film,” he says and recollects how Mallika Sherawat (they both worked in Patti Mein Maui) wasn’t happy with the way she looked in a shot where she grieves her hus-band’s death. “I had to ex-plain why the grim lighting was necessary,” he says. New ideas can be tried on-ly when filmmakers and ac-tors are willing to collaborate. After all, a film needs to communicate its ideas in the best way possi-ble. Fortunately, Om found willing collaborators in Arrambam. “Right from Ajith Kumar, Arya and Nayanthara to Lee Whitaker, the action choreographer from Hollywood, they were professional.” What was the most difficult roadblock when shooting a stunt sequence? “Time and safety are both a problem. I n the West, they take all precautions as well as their time. Here…not so much,” he says. Recollecting the much-hyped ‘speed boat’ stunt per-formed by Ajith himself where he had to do a 180 degree turn at such a high speed, he says, “Shooting while seated on a boat that travel at that speed was risky.” So where was he seated? “I was filming the whole scene seated in the speed boat in front of Ajith, firmly tied to the nose of the boat. While Ajith is, no doubt, an experienced driver, it was still difficult and scary be-cause there was every chance that the boat could capsize,” he says, adding, “The actors understood what Vishnu and I were trying to do and cooperated with us.” How did he manage to calm his nerves and shoot it? “Since I was looking through the lens, I convinced myself that it was only a movie,” he jokes.

Viewfinder

in focus Cinematographer Om Prakash talks to udhav naig about his experiences

filming the Aiith-starrer Affambani


W

hen cinematographer Om Prakash was ap­proached by Vishnu- yard han for Arrambam, whose last film

with Ajith Kumar (Billa) was

talked about for its visual

aesthetics, he immediately

knew it was going to be a

huge responsibility. “Every

time I looked through the

view finder, Vishnu’s films

would keep appearing as if to

remind me of my task,” he

laughs. To ease the pressure,

Om claims that he ap‑

proached this film in the

same way as he has his other

films. “I always try to push

the artistic boundaries that

commercial cinema tries to

restrict. I don’t make any

compromise,” he says. This

has always been his motto

whether he is doing a big-

budget Arrambam, which

features a ‘mass’ actor, or

non-mainstream films such

as Vaagai Sooda Vaa and Naanaya M.

Views and hues

Inspired by the works of

Italian cinematographer Vit‑

torio Storaro (Apocalypse

Now, Little Buddha) and art‑

ist Van Gogh, Om admits

that he likes to experiment

with colours. He believes

that his job as a cinematog‑

rapher is to translate the vi‑

sion of the director on to

screen. “The selection of a

film’s colour tone is impor‑

tant.” he says, going on to ex‑

plain why he chose to give a

red-tinted look for Vaagai

Sooda Vaa. “The film was

about how a guy goes to a

poor village and educates the

people there. I felt the colour

red, traditionally associated

with socialism and commu‑

nism, would be apt for the

film.”

What has been his artistic

contribution to Arrambam,

which promises to be a slam‑

bam action film? “Since Ar‑

rambam aims to raise con‑

sciousness about a social ill, I

expressed my wish to give the

visuals a green tint because

the colour ‘green’ is com‑

monly associated with pros‑

perity and knowledge. I was

able to implement my ideas

because Vishnu (director)

understood what I was trying

to do,” he says and adds, “In

some of the scenes featuring

Ajith, we want the audience

to see both him and his re‑

flection. The idea behind this

will be clear once the film re‑

leases. We have used hand‑

held cameras to shoot these

scenes from close quarters

not because it would look

fancy, but the script demand‑

ed such an approach.”

Reflecting moods

The film industry is such

that artistic indulgence,

however basic it may be, will

not be encouraged. Talking

specifically about cinema‑

tography, Om feels that there

is always an insistence on

keeping it flat and brightly lit.

“Some expect everything to

be lit in the same way irre‑

spective of the mood of the

scene or the point of the

film,” he says and recollects

how Mallika Sherawat (they

both worked in Patti Mein

Maui) wasn’t happy with the

way she looked in a shot

where she grieves her hus‑

band’s death. “I had to ex‑

plain why the grim lighting

was necessary,” he says.

New ideas can be tried on‑

ly when filmmakers and ac‑

tors        are       willing       to

collaborate. After all, a film

needs to communicate its

ideas in the best way possi‑

ble. Fortunately, Om found

willing collaborators in Ar‑

rambam. “Right from Ajith

Kumar, Arya and Nayantha‑

ra to Lee Whitaker, the ac‑

tion choreographer from

Hollywood,    they were

professional.”

What was the most diffi‑

cult roadblock when shoot‑

ing a stunt sequence? “Time

and safety are both a prob‑

lem. I n the West, they take all

precautions as well as their

time. Here…not so much,” he

says. Recollecting the much-

hyped ‘speed boat’ stunt per‑

formed by Ajith himself

where he had to do a 180 de‑

gree turn at such a high

speed, he says, “Shooting

while seated on a boat that

travel at that speed was

risky.”

So where was he seated?

“I was filming the whole

scene seated in the speed

boat in front of Ajith, firmly

tied to the nose of the boat.

While Ajith is, no doubt, an

experienced driver, it was

still difficult and scary be‑

cause there was every chance

that the boat could capsize,”

he says, adding, “The actors

understood what Vishnu and

I were trying to do and coop‑

erated with us.”

How did he manage to

calm his nerves and shoot it?

“Since I was looking through

the lens, I convinced myself

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