Can you tell us an anecdote from the shoot?
I can’t really think of anything in particular. But the actors might have many anecdotes to share. Most of them lost plenty of weight. They didn’t really shower for days and often stole from shops but soon had to go return it and explain themselves to the shopkeeper which you can imagine was a bit complicated.
Not many cinematographers in India are experimenting with the play of light and shadow. While undertaking this task, how did you balance it? What are the techniques—professional or ‘jugaad’—that you incorporated?
All DOPs (Directors of Photography) have to work with light and shadow to some extent. But you are right to say that in this film there is a plenty of negative space within the frame. We were shooting at night and that gave me a chance to use shadows creatively. I tried to amplify the idea of the two sides of the addict (as shown in the film). Through the film the shadows of the actor played an important role in planning my lighting and frame. If this film was shot in daylight, I can imagine it turning out to be an entirely different movie. And then for the final look of the image we worked with Sidhant Meer who, I think, is one of the finest colourists in India today.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced?
We were using rain machines because a large portion of the film is in the rain. Sometimes we would run out of water and then were forced to shoot some parts of the film in just one or two takes. But other than that it truly was a pleasure to shoot.
A cinematographer you admire and why?
I have so many cinematographers I admire. Christopher Doyle, Roger Deakins, Subrata Mitra, Santosh Sivan, Bradford Young. I recently saw a film called Swallow which was shot by a female DOP called Kate Arizmendi. I thought the use of colour was incredible. Priya Seth is another DOP who has worked in films such as Barah Aana and Chef. She has been a big support for me. She is always generous with her wisdom.
What are you working on next?
I just wrapped a Tamil feature film directed by Raja Ramamurthy and a short film called Bittu which has been directed by my sister, Karishma Dube. These days I’m operating the camera on the sets of A Suitable Boy directed by Mira Nair.