The hardwork of the cast and crew of Aravaan is evident in each frame and kudos to cinematographer Siddharth for having been able to pull off such a huge feat. While Aravaan has become a visual reference for the lives of Tamils in the 18th century, anyone will agree that Siddharth has done a significant part like the filmmaker Vasanthabalan. “I realised on the very first day when Vasanthabalan and I started discussing the project that it was not going to be an easy job. It demanded more than cinematography skills,” says Siddharth.
As is the case with any period flick, the biggest hitch was to find the right location. “We scouted for locations for about four months for a Pre-British look before zeroing in on a place near Madurai. Art director Vijayakumar erected a set there and that’s how it all worked,” recalls Siddharth.
The five-film-old cinematographer says Aravaan didn’t require too much of equipment and it was only the working style that demanded a different approach. “We used a Red One camera. The choice of digital camera helped the producer monetarily. We have also used a Canon D70 camera and fish-eye lens, but only additionally, and as the script demanded it. Most portions were canned during the peak of summer in 2011- inApril and May last year- with no escape from the unforgiving sun,” says Siddharth.
Ask him about the visual highlights of the movie, he mentions the first four minutes and the fight sequence just before the interval. “The first four minutes will transport you to the 18th century, narrating the life and style of the Tamils then, and pull you into the story,” he says. According to Siddharth, Vasanthabalan gave technicians a free hand.”Though this is our first film together, we have been in touch for a long time. He reads a lot and he gets to know what is new in cinema. He is an inspiring director,” says this cinematographer who is a favourite of Kamal Haasan and has worked on his films Nala Damayanti and Mumbai Express.
Siddharth is currently working in a Telugu movie, produced by Mohan Babu and is waiting for another challenging project in Tamil.