Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal has been garnering unanimous praise from all quarters for both content and form. The film is cinematographer G Sridhar’s second project, in which he has made heads turn with his work. Sridhar recalls Pariyerum Perumal’s journey that began with three-months of pre-production in Nellai. “It was important to have a fair knowledge of the landscape the story is set in. The camera had to stay true to a realistic plot and a film based on a true story. Director Mari Selvaraj is from Nellai and we explored the areas together. To be honest, I had to unlearn a few things with the objective of delivering an immersive experience for the audience.”
One of the decisions that Sridhar made was to go with a drone camera with the pre-access gimbal equipment. “There was the advantage of capturing the essence of a full 100 feet shot whereas only ten per cent of the frame would have been visible in a Steady Cam or Jimmy Bip. Luckily, Kathir and Anandhi were one-take artistes. Imagine carrying a 40 kg equipment right through the shoot, many requiring a top angle shot. It needed a lot of grit and determination and each challenge was seen as an opportunity by the production unit.”
Sridhar adds that he ensured that his work shouldn’t feel cinematic. “I was conscious of that and the whole unit walked the extra mile. The more we researched, the more we got to know of the caste discrimination that has had a devastating effect over the years. Realism was the objective.” He mentions that even the dog Karuppi played along to their instructions. “The first shot was to set the mood and the camera was placed behind Kathir, who slowly gets up to embrace Karuppi to indicate the shape of things to come.”
The seven-year stint with director Selvaraghavan (Sridhar was the associate cinematographer to Ramji in Mayakkam Enna and Irandam Ulagam) was an experience that no university could have given, says the cinematographer. “You get to learn a lot with an accomplished writer like Selva. Not just facts, a fair knowledge of history also helps to bring out the creative aspects, which could vary in various genre of movies.”
He takes the example of his debut film Malai Nerathu Mayakkam, helmed by Gitanjali Selvaraghavan, who gave the desired space for his camera to do the talking amid a husband-wife conflict.
Sridhar’s next is an untitled film with Vishal Vishnu, which he signed after the first teaser of Pariyerum Perumal was unveiled. “There are two big offers in Telugu apart from a few ones in Tamil. I am also looking for a mainstream film that has the usual template of five songs, and three fights.”