Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kalpvriksh the Wish Tree Yours Dreams Are Just a Touch Away

Kalpvriksh the Wish Tree Yours Dreams Are Just a Touch Away

Two-time Winner Indian Cinematographer Rajeev Jain ICS WICA Creates Special World of Light, Shadows in his recent film Kalpvriksh the Wish Tree Yours Dreams Are Just a Touch Away

Rajeev Jain has a way of seeing that takes an image to its outer limits. In his years as assistant, electrician, grip, and in the past 16 years as director of photography, he has developed a visual sensitivity and expertise.

Rajeev takes his inspiration from directors such as Satyajit Ray (Pather Panchali) and cinematographers Ashok Mehta, ISC (36 Chowrangi Lane) and Binod Pradhan (Parinda) for their use of colour and lights and shadow to amplify the emotional content of stories. I find the ability to allow the characters to operate in shadow is a real art, he says. Ashok Mehta allows his characters to function in darkness. He lights everything so the blacks are really rich – yet you can see everything.

His work in Kalpvriksh, a film by director Manika Sharma exudes a period quality with an edge. Rajeev was especially intrigued by the non-narrative, fragmented script, because it offered a myriad of visual possibilities. Shooting primarily on Kodak to give contrast to the exterior scenes, Rajeev experimented with warm and blue filters to get the look he wanted. The result is a stark, almost surreal journey into the minds and actions of the film’s bizarre characters.

Up-front collaboration on any film is essential, Rajeev emphasizes.

It’s important for me to go through the script scene by scene with the director Manika Sharma, Rajeev says, to try to see what is in her mind. I want to know what the scene is saying, who the most important character is at that moment, and how the characters move through the scene. We also share photographs and movies, which gives us a visual base to work from.

A graduate of Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts in Drama and a beginning still photography, Rajeev took a course in filmmaking. Intrigued by the film medium, he saw the possibilities of combining his interests with film in commercials. Searching for a way to learn camerawork, he offered his assistance (unpaid) to cameraman Subroto Mitra to learn the craft.

He taught me about his SR package, what the lenses were, and how to load magazines, he said. Then he started me by working on Shyam Benegal’s documentary on Nehru.

In 1996, Rajeev got the first opportunity to shoot a film, Army, with Mukul Anand. After eight weeks of stressful shooting – his every move was watched.


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