CHENNAI: She is the first Indian woman to have won the Silver Lotus National Film Award. Her tryst with cinematography began with Shaji N Karun’s 2009 film ‘Kutty Srank’, which won her the prestigious award.
For a woman cinematographer early into her career, this may be a major achievement, but Anjuli Shukla is as humble as ever.
“This is just the beginning. When I took up ‘Kutty Srank’, I treated it as a task that needed to be accomplished in the best possible manner. But I never dreamt that it would land me an award. It sure feels good, but the responsibilities are more now,” she says.
Post the success of ‘Kutty Srank’, Anjuli has been busy. Her first film as assistant cinematographer was ‘Anandabhadram’ with Santosh Sivan. She worked as an assistant cinematographer in Santosh’s Malayalam film ‘Urumi’, which released on April 1.
“I started my career as an associate/assistant with Santosh Sivan. I have also worked in Hollywood films with him, including ‘Before the Rains’ and ‘Mistress of Spices’. I assisted him in ‘Raavanan’ and ‘Raavan’. Santosh Sivan has mentored me through this journey and there is still a long way to go,” she says.
Anjuli works from Chennai and Mumbai, and says that her passion helps her go that extra mile. A career in cinematography was a result of her consistent and sustained interest in filmmaking. “It had to be something related to films. I have always liked still-photography, and the dynamics of camera movement got me thoroughly involved. I studied at the Film and Television Institute of India, when my student film was screened at a film festival in Poland. I saw many other entries there and learnt of the myriad ways of handling the camera,” says Anjuli, who grew up in Lucknow, a town that added little fuel to her film aspirations.
Pursuing an art that often throws numerous challenges for a woman, including erratic working hours and physical toil, Anjuli says she had prepared herself even before it all began. “If that’s the nature of the profession, you have to abide by it. Ten years down the line, you will see more women pursuing cinematography and many other rarely explored areas of filmmaking. It’s like the history of medicine. Years ago, one never heard of women doctors. Today, they have aced in so many specialized areas. You have to be the change you want to see, and if you are determined, there’s no stopping you.”