Mitesh Mirchandani wanted to be a pilot. But his father refused to give wings to his desire as he believed the aviation industry was going through a lull then. But years later fly he did… albeit creatively. Life came full circle for the 26-year old cinematographer when he ended up shooting Ram Madhvani’s Neerja inside a ‘real’ plane. The irony wasn’t lost on him when he recreated the real world of Neerja Bhanot, the brave heart airhostess who showed extraordinary courage under fire when her aircraft Pan Am Filght 73 was seized by hijackers.
A replica of the Pan Am aircraft, created over 48 days, stood for the actual plane that was grounded at Karachi airport in 1986. Mitesh shot the entire film on a steadycam — avoiding the ‘over lit’ effect that commercial films resort to and transported the viewer right into the middle of the action. “I’ve worked with Ram Madhvani on a lot of ad films. So we have an equation going. He wanted everything to appear realistic.” He adds, “Ram was clear about not using extra light. So the challenge was to shoot the film with existing light. I had to light up every corner of the plane because I had no idea where the actors would be at what point of time.” The other hurdle was to leave a clutter free space for the actors to react and move inside the plane. “That meant mostly handheld work and designing the camera path in such a way that it all loo