Freezing That Perfect Shot
By Aswathy K | Express Features | Published: 09th January 2014 12:07 PM |
The hallmark of good cinematography is not in bombarding the viewer with a plethora of visual razzmatazz, but in staying focused on the narrative and allowing every frame to keep the audience hooked to the film. No matter how many moods a story has, setting the right tone for the story is the emblem of success for a cinematographer. And Sujith Vaassudev is penning down his story with movies like Drishyam, Punnyalan Agarbathis and Memories to name a few.
Weaving together some beautiful shots in the movie Drishyam which is still ringing the cash registers, Sujith says, “Drishyam is a complete family thriller story and as the story revolves around a family and their encounter with a problem that distorts their whole life, I took care that the overall tone of the movie should stick inside this family alone. And moreover Jeethu was also clear about what he wanted in the frames. I would say in Drishyam the hero is its script.”
Though throughout the movie it would have felt that there is only one shade but only a keen movie buff would have noticed the minute change of tones in the second half when the family is engulfed in a series of traumas. And this is where Sujith’s expertise comes. “I was really surprised when some people called up and said about those minute details after they watched it for the third time. As the second half of the plot was melancholic and colourless, I used paler tones to enhance the effect,” says Sujith.
It is Sujith’s second association with director Jeethu Joseph, first being Prithviraj-starrer Memories. “Though both film are thrillers, they are miles apart. In Memories there is different shades and patterns revolving around the protagonist. If one shade sticks him as a lovable son, another shade is of a rugged cop. So setting different tones, from lighting to location to crew and cast members, each have a key role to play,” says Sujith who began his career as a camera assistant. He was assistant to many leading television serial directors and has done several serials for various channels. However the stepping stone to filmdom was a short-film, Sacred Face, with director Rajesh Touchriver. In 2009, he teamed up with Shaji Kailas for Lalitham Hiranmayam in Kerala Café.
Sujith believes in bringing freshness and his own personal touch in each shot of a film. “How a director conceives a script, in the same way a cinematographer should also conceive, maybe a notch higher and to the next level,” he says.
For Sujith all the movies he has worked for remains close to his heart but it won’t be complete without the mention of Lijo Jose Pellissery’s critically acclaimed City of God. “It was an experimental movie in many sense. The narrative and treatment were different. Though we have seen incorporation of jerky movements in Hollywood movies, the technique was alien to Malayalam films at that time. There was a three minute hand held single shot fight scene which was very challenging. The two-and-a-half day schedule was finished with two rehearsals and one take. It just took half day to shoot. And thankful to Raju (Prithviraj) who is a fully-equipped actor with good sense of story, editing, technical detailing and all,” says Sujith who aspires to become a director in the long run.
Sujith finds each unique aspect in the actors with whom he has worked with. “Lal sir (Mohanlal) is an actor whom we can approach very easily. He makes sure that all the supporting actors are at ease even during a tension filled situation. Jayasurya is a hardworking actor who tries to fully immerse in his character and helps out co-actors for the same. He is a person without egos and talking about Indrajith, he is a talented actor who brings on spot improvements while acting and is very friendly too.”
Sujith’s upcoming project is debut director Shyamdhar’s investigative thriller 7th Day with Prithviraj in the lead.