Shooting Stars
Digital Studio|October 2018

DOPs Santosh Sivan and Anil Mehta share insightful experiences whilst filming Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and Sui Dhaaga respectively

Anisha Gakhar

When one comes across a cinematographer, who possesses paramount prowess, along with a never-dying zeal to imbibe learning like it is an everyday regimen; it instills a lesson in us: cinematography is more an art form, than a mere 9-to-5 drill. Our glorious film industry is flanked by exceptional cinematographers and Directors of Photography (DOPs); two such names that command respect globally, are Anil Mehta and Santosh Sivan.

STRONG FOUNDATIONS

Anil Mehta adorns umpteen hats: a veteran cinematographer, a passionate writer and a respectable director. He studied cinematography at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune; and has never looked back since. He has shot some of the most enchanting Bollywood movies including, Khamoshi: The Musical (1996), Lagaan (2001), Saathiya (2002), Veer-Zaara (2004) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012) amongst other blockbuster hits.

Mehta’s first feature film, Aaja Nachle, starring Madhuri Dixit, Konkana Sen, Akshaye Khanna and Kunla Kapoor, was produced by Yash Raj Films, and was released in 2007. He was conferred the National Film Award for Best Cinematography, for his work in the cult hit, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999).

Santosh Sivan is an Indian cinematographer, film director, producer and actor, well respected for his breakthrough works in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi cinema. Sivan also shares the same alma mater as Mehta: FTII. Sivan has completed 45 feature films, 41 documentaries, and is a founding member of the Indian Society of Cinematographers (ISC).

Sivan became the first cinematographer in the Asia-Pacific region, to be honoured with the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) membership. He has won five National Film Awards – including four for Best Feature Film Cinematography. He was awarded the Padma Shri for his contributions to Indian cinema in 2014.

In 2008, Santosh Sivan Films was conceived as a Pvt ltd concern, and has not only handled film ventures successfully, but also has to its credit many hit commercials, documentaries and music videos.

Sivan’s recent work in Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and Mehta’s in Sui Dhaaga, is exemplary in their own unique ways, owing to the finesse and professionalism they are characterised by.

SUI DHAAGA – MADE IN INDIA

As much as we can rave about Mehta’s unparalleled contribution to Indian cinema, his latest work in the 2018 smash hit, Sui Dhaaga (which means - needle and thread), only deepens our belief in him as a DOP. Sui Dhaaga is a Hindi comedy-drama film directed by Sharat Katariya and produced by Maneesh Sharma, under the Yash Raj Films banner. It stars Varun Dhawan as Mauji: a tailor, and Anushka Sharma as Mamta: an embroiderer. The story revolves around Mauji and Mamta as a young couple in rural India, who venture into a family-run smallscale clothing business.

Principal photography for the movie began in the town of Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, in late 2017, and the film was theatrically released on 28th September, 2018. “Sharat shared with me the finished script and talked to me at length, about what he wanted to communicate through the film. The respect that the film portrays towards common man working hard to earn their bread, along with bearing the pressures of living on the fringes of a big city, is what drew me in to undertake this project,” said Mehta.

THE MAKING

The film was mainly set inside a small house, in contrast to the backdrop of the hustle-bustle of a metropolitan city. Sharat was clear about the fact that he wanted to shoot the entire film on-location. Mehta commented, “I feel shooting on-location brings a lot of integrity to the film. The fact that we were going to be on location with star actors was of some concern, but we were willing to brave it. We found solutions as we went along.”

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