I am not here for money, says 'Rangasthalam' cinematographer Rathnavelu

The cinematographer, who has worked with big names in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, tells us that regular template films with four songs and three fight sequences don’t interest him.

Published: 30th March 2018 10:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th April 2018 01:34 PM   |  A+A-

'Rangasthalam' cinematographer Rathnavelu.

Express News Service

Rathnavelu aka Randy believes cinematography is as important as direction in the art of filmmaking. “A DoP is the co-creator of a film,” he says. That’s why he prefers listening to scripts before he signs a project. “If a film doesn’t appeal to me, I politely decline the offer. I don’t go by the star value,” he says.

The cinematographer, who has worked with big names in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, tells us that regular template films with four songs and three fight sequences don’t interest him. “Something about the script should intrugue me. For instance, Mahesh’s Babu’s 1: Nenokkadine. It wasn’t a blockbuster, but whenever people see me at airports, they appreciate my work!”

ALSO READ | Rangasthalam is superb, tweets 'Baahubali' director SS Rajamouli

He works closely with his directors and tries to “add a different perspective from the lensman’s point of view.” Rathnavelu cites Rangasthalam, which was released yesterday, as an example. “Sukumar (director) and I were bouncing off ideas, and he told me he had plans to set the film around 2015. I advised to make the film with 80s theme. Since both of us belong to that generation, we thought we could connect to it better.” 

Sukumar and Randy have known each other for 14 years. In fact, he was the cinematographer for the filmmaker’s first venture, Arya (2004). “After seeing my work in Sethu and Nandha, he approached me. Our friendship remains intact even after all these years,” he says.The DoP adds they were keen to make a film with a village background and real people. “When you watch the film, you’ll get reminded of your own village. The story also has a universal appeal,” he tells us. 

The protagonist (Chitti Babu, played by Ram Charan) can’t hear properly, and Randy says capturing the romance between him and Samantha was challenging. “It’s not your usual love story. The first half will be lighthearted, and the second will run high on emotions.” He apparently asked Samantha to get a tan for the film. “She was surprised after seeing the output. I take immense care to make actors look extra appealing onscreen.”For Rangasthalam, he chose to showcase parched lands “because today’s villages aren’t only about greens and browns. I had to do some extra work to make people believe it’s a real village.”

Randy believes that whatever he’s today, he owes it all to Rajeev Menon. “I was quite determined to assist him when I started out because he’s an amazing technician. His thoughts were ahead of the time. I also worked on many ads because they let you tell a story in less than 30 seconds. That’s where I equipped myself.”

He doesn’t take criticisms too seriously. “I’d have done something significant about lighting and frames in a film. But people would hardly notice that. They only appreciate those beautiful silhoutte shots, sunrises and mountains, which hardly require any skill,” he laughs. He also rues how, with easy access to technology today, everything is being mistaken for ‘graphics’. “I remember someone asked me what I did to achieve that pristine look in the Neelo valapu song (Robo). I didn’t know how to react. It was all shot in the real sense.”

Randy, who has worked extensively in Tamil and Telugu cinema has done only one film in Hindi – David. “That’s because I didn’t want to start from scratch in Bollywood. Though I got a couple of offers for Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar-starrers, I refused. I didn’t want to leave my family and head to Bombay. I was also busy doing back-to-back films in the south. South Indian technicians are the most sought after in the north. But, I am not here for the money.” 

Even top heroes in Telugu cinema check if he’s willing to give them dates before considering another cinematographer. But Randy still remembers his excitement when he first saw his name on the rolling credits twenty years ago. “It was priceless. More than that, when Bala held my hands after seeing Sethu, I felt so happy. I think no compliment equals that of the director.” Looking back he feels he could have done better work on every film. “I think if I were to do Surya S/O Krishnan today, it would be different. It’s one of my favourite films.”

Speaking about his next project, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, he says, “You may have seen those photos of Amitabh Bachchan and Chiranjeevi, which went viral on social media. It’s going to be massive.” He says Big B is “extremely down-to-earth and a powerhouse of talent. He told me that Aishwarya (Rai) has a high regard for me after working with me on Robo.”Rathnavelu is shooting the period drama in cinemascope format. “We are using the latest technology and equipment, in order to take the audience back to their roots.”

Stay up to date on all the latest Entertainment Telugu news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

facebook twitter whatsapp