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Ravi.K.Chandran, India's finest cameraman

Watch Ravi K Chandran at work!

Ravi.K.Chandran is undoubtedly one of the finest cinematographers in the country. He is hot in the commercial circuit after his innovative and stylishly shot Dil Chahta Hai. Now Ravi is on cloud nine as his Koi Mil Gaya is being appreciated for its marvellous camerawork, especially the way special effects have been inserted seamlessly into the images of the beautiful Canada countryside. Ravi’s wizardry will be appreciated more with the release of Shankar’s Boys. He has tried a lot of new technologies including that of linking 62 cameras and using the time freeze technology (seen in “Matrix”).

Ravi acquired a passion for the camera while watching his elder brother and award-winning cinematographer Ramachandra Babu who had shot memorable Malayalam films for veteran directors like Bharatan, Padmarajan and K G George. Ravi started his career in Malayalam films, but carved a niche for himself in the Tamil film industry with Minsara Kanavu, Kandukondein Kandukondein and Kannathil Muthammittal. His first Hindi film was Priyadarshan's Viraasat. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Ravi...

You are the hottest cameraman in the commercial circuit now. Why do all major directors in India want to work with you?
You should ask them. I work hard, read a lot, experiment and try to do something different always. I am totally committed to my work.

How did you enter Hindi films? Do you feel that Dil Chahta Hai was your claim to fame?
It was because of Priyadarshan. My first film was Viraasat followed by Saat Rang Ke Sapne and Kabhie Na Kabhie, all made by him. I did Major Saab, it was a dream come true for me to do a film with Amitabh. Dil Chahta Hai was a team effort as the story was from Farhan's heart, and that reflected in the film. Farhan's script was fantastic and he gave me the full script in advance. He wanted his film to be fresh and different. It was very close to his heart and he knew what he wanted. I gave him the best I could.

During the shoot Sanjay Leela Bhansali met me and narrated the script of Devdas as he wanted me to work in it. Any other cameraman would have grabbed Bhansali’s offer to work in the magnum opus. But my priorities were with Farhan and I promised Bhansali to work with him in his next project. At the end DCH was extremely satisfying.

So you consider Dil Chahta Hai one of your best films?
Yes, it is one of my best films. It was a benchmark in Indian cinema from the cinematography point of view. It had a casual attitude with nothing imposed on you with international standard and a lot of style. Manoj Night Syamalan and Sekhar Kapoor called me up and congratulated me. I also enjoyed working in films like Viraasat, Kandukondein and Kannathil Mutthammittal.

As a technician do you play a role in making a commercial cinema successful at the box-office?
I read the script first and sit with the director and discuss the theme of the film. No director has tried to control my visions. All of them like Farhan, Priyadarshan, Rajeev Menon and Mani Ratnam...we have worked as a team for the betterment of the film.

Your song picturisation is always talked about. How do you go about it?
Usually song picturisation is always left to the choreographers. But in my case I discuss with them the situation and toss my ideas. In the case of Koi Mil Gaya, my rapport with Farah Khan was excellent. She had planned to picturise the song Idhar Chala Mein Udhar Chala… indoor. But when I suggested that we do it outdoor, she agreed and with special affects we picturised the song in the rain. I have done more than 40 films now and in all the films I take special care about songs as they have recall value.

But in the credits of Koi Mil Gaya your name was placed second after Sameer Arya?
Call it cheap ego or unprofessional attitude. Rakesh Roshan could not use my dates properly and hence they clashed with my Boys dates. I used to fly to Mumbai and shoot for Koi… in the morning and come back to Chennai the same day to do Boys in the night. Finally I ended up in the hospital and in the meantime Rakesh shot the last song and a fight scene with Sameer. And he gave the first credit to him. But my work speaks for itself.

Tell us something about working with Shankar and Boys?
Shankar is the most hardworking director I have ever come across. He is a wizard and is willing to experiment with new ideas and technologies. He takes pain over shots and is not happy till he gets it perfect. “Boys” will surely be a trendsetter we have tried a lot of new technologies including that of linking 62 cameras and using the time freeze technology.

Your role models?
My first role model is my brother Ramachandra Babu. Next comes Santhosh Sivan.

You have worked with some of the most beautiful women in the country like Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Kajol, and Preity Zinta. Do you take extra effort to make them more beautiful on screen?
(smiles) All of them have tremendous faith in me. I try to improvise their looks and see that their looks suite the character they play. For instance in Dil Chahta Hai, I tried to give Preity a new look and asked her not to use false eyelashes and instead go for a plain look without much make-up. But in Koi Mil Gaya her character had to be looking like an angel and so she used a light make-up.

Your future projects?
I have just finished Mani Ratnam’s bilingual in Hindi. Now the Tamil version will start by first week of September. After that I will be working on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s quickie, Black which has Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee followed by Bajirao Mastani. This is a period drama which will need a detailed research and will probably start early next year.

By Moviebuzz