Never once he regrets the decision to drop engineering course midway to follow his hearts calling - photography. This inturn paved his way into the world of cinematography. Meet Venugopal whose latest flick ‘Appavum Veenjum’ is getting critic mentions for panning out eerie, serene and intriguing shots.
“As a cinematographer, ‘Appavum Veenjum’ was a great learning experience for me. It was through my long-time friends and producers of Appavum Veenjum, that I got the first call. As soon as I heard the script, I felt a freshness and that is the reason I signed for it. The locations and story scribbled in the script gave me complete freedom to explore the craft much deeper. And post release, the movie is getting good response along with positive comments for it’s cinematography,” says Venugopal.
Venugopal got the first flavours of photography while he was in college. “It was during my college days in Coimbatore I got attracted to the world of photography. My uncle had a photo studio called IAB near to my college and I was a regular visitor there.
Though I was studying Electronics and Communication Engineering, the art of framing, lighting and the ‘post production works’ like washing and developing of photographs interested me more,” says Venugopal who discontinued his engineering course and later joined a film school in Chennai.
“Though my father - Madathil Narayana Panikker - was supportive, he was bit confused about my decision. Naturally he approached M T Vasudevan Nair sir, who was my father’s friend, and discussed the matter. It was MT sir who suggested me to go for practical study instead of academic classes. He directed me to Jayanan Vincent sir who was the regular cinematographer of Joshy and I V Sasi during ‘80s,” says Venugopal.
It was for ‘Uyarangalil’ that Jayanan called Venugopal to assist him. But owing to the demise of Venugopal’s father, he could not join the crew.
“I started my career as assistant cinematographer with Jayanan sir for the film ‘Anubandham’. It was a great experience to work with him. I did several movies including Malayalam and Telugu with him,” he says. Venugopal has also worked as operating cameraman for A Vincent’s many Telugu directorial ventures too.
“It was through the partially animated film O’Faby directed by Sreekuttan that I got the credit as cinematographer for the first time and was shared with Jayanan sir. He was the cinematographer of the movie but for some unforeseen reason I had to shoot around 40 per cent of the film. And it was Jayanan sir who suggested to the producers to give me the credit as well,” he recalls.
But as luck would have it, in the same year, Venugopal became independent cinematographer with Ellarum Chollanu, directed by Kaladharan. He was hardly 23 years old then. He has cranked the camera for movies like Vardhakyapuranam by Rajasenan, Porutham, Pourami and has done many with Lohithadas and Sibi Malayil too.
“My first work with Sibi was Ishtam. Later we joined for Ente Veedu Appoontem, Jalolsavam, Amrutham, Alice in Wonderland and Ayirathil Oruvan. Arayannangalude Veedu, Joker and Kasthuri Maan (Tamil) were my major works with Lohi,” says Venugopal who has worked with Kamal for Meghamalhar and Nammal.
While quizzed about his sabbatical in Malayalam film, he says, “It was not sabbatical. I was in fact busy with my Telugu projects. And there a single film takes around six-eight months to shoot.”
However the cinematographer from Kozhikode says that he will be here for the next couple of months.
“I have signed three projects in Malayalam and one is in Tamil for AVM Productions. I just completed shooting Akaldamayile Pennu, starring Swetha Menon. It has completed the post production works and will be doing rounds in various film festivals,” says Venugopal.