Audience simply ‘wowed’ when they saw the rugged terrains of Afghanistan, the exotic valleys in the light of an early morning sun from the much acclaimed movie ‘Vishwaroopam’. Since its release, rave reviews have been pouring in for the technical brilliance of the movie which is on a par with Hollywood standards. And kudos for the person who has so beautifully captured the director’s vision into visuals for the film which was made at a whopping budget of 95 crores. Meet Kerala born Sanu John Varghese whose magical hands has captured those breathtaking visuals for the movie that talks about global terrorism. Ask Sanu how does he take in the success, he says, “It was an awesome experience working in a big project like this. And if cinematography has been beautiful then it is also because of the accompanying cast and crew who have worked for the film. Art direction, costume designing and many such things should also be taken into account for the beauty of the visuals.”
Sanu has grown up seeing Kamal Hassan in various avatars on screen. Ask him on what role does he like to see ‘Ulaganayakan’ as, he says, “I have grown up watching the acting finesse of Kamal sir. But I came to know more about his directorial skills when I associated with him. He is sharp on outlook. Even minute details come into his notice. of course because of the years of experience he has in films,” says Sanu. “Working with him was like going back to school.
There was lots to learn. Though he was handling the role of the director he gave ample space for us too,” he adds. In the film the visuals of the Afghan mountains appear larger-than-life, ask him about the experience, he says, “Shooting in real Afghanistan was not possible because of the political and apolitical conditions there. So we went in search of many locations in Kazaghistan, Uzbekistan and finally got the exteriors required for the movie from Jordan which is right next to Israel.
The topography of terrains over there gave the exact feel and perfection similar to that of Afghanistan.” The journey of ‘Vishwaroopam’ doesn’t end here. There are lots of unanswered questions left behind in ‘Vishwaroopam 1’. Ask Sanu about the second outing, he says, “30 per cent of the visuals for the second part has been already shot. The story is happening mostly in India.
In the conclusive part, we can expect each character to make revelations.” The movie is expected to be released by next year. It was not for the first time that Sanu was being called to be part of Kamal Hassan team. He had previously been a part of the team for Kamal’s another project ‘Marmayogi’. “‘Marmayogi’ project did not take off.
It stopped during the pre-production stage. And it was during 2010 March-April, when I was in Kochi for a commercial’s shoot that he called for ‘Vishwaroopam’,” says Sanu whose first film as a cinematographer was ‘Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon’ in 2003. He has also worked in Farhan Akhtar starrer ‘Karthik Calling Karthik’ and the Malayalam film ‘Elektra’ previously. Being a Malayali ask Sanu, how did he make to Bollywood, he says, “I used to work in DD News. And my career as cinematographer started from there. Films happened while working with Ravi K Chandran. I had worked with him for many documentaries.”
Sanu, an alumni of College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, says he wanted to be a photo journalist but the destiny has something else written for him.
Growing up seeing the Malayalam movies of 80s, Sanu expresses his wish to work in Malayalam movies too. “I love to work in Malayalam movies. The movies which we had during the 80s from some of the directors like K G George, Padmarajan, Sathyan Anthikad to name a few are great.”
Sanu has also done some 600 television commercials. “Last year I had shot the ads of Cadburys, Honda’s ad with Akshay Kumar and Coke ad with Sachin Tendulkar,” he says. Other commercials include Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Airtel and Tata, to name a few. One can soon see Sanu’s cinematography in a romantic comedy. “It is Bollywood movie backed by Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap,” he says.