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“Good projects are hard to come by”

From assisting ace cinematographer Ashok Mehta to becoming a full-fledged professional, Sudhir K Choudhary has proved a point with his recent releases

Background

I hail from a village in Old Delhi but I spent my childhood in Dehradun in a boarding school. It was in Dehradun that I got interested in photography and painting. No one in my family works in the film industry so I wondered whether my dad would support me. But my father had faith in me and backed my wish to enroll with the Film and TV Institute of Tamil Nadu, where I studied cinematography. He was very happy when I received the gold medal in the course.

Ashok Mehta, My Guru

After I completed my course, I came to Mumbai and joined the late Ashok Mehta as an assistant. It was under him that I refined my work. I worked with him on No Entry and Kisna and a few ad films. He was a master and I literally unlearned and relearned the craft under his guidance. I spent hours talking about films, cinematography, life and what not.

It does take time for one to start on one’s own. We pick up small stuff like documentaries and short films and then we all, kind of, go up the ladder in time. I did the same till I got a call from a friend in Chennai who was directing her first Tamil feature film and asked me if I could shoot it for her. That was my first film.

 

First Project

It was called Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru and was one of the first few films that were shot with the red digital camera, which was a unique experience. We were working on a film that revolved around a six-month old baby and were shooting on tight budget. There were times when we wanted the baby to smile but he would cry as the lights scared him. So we would pre-light and before the crew gathered around the camera, we would put the baby and the characters in front of the lights. I used huge diffusion frames to soften the lights and make the baby feel comfortable with the environment. Every day was a challenge but things worked out.

Turning Point

I think it was my meeting with my mentor, the late Ashok Mehta. When I emerged from the film Institute, I was like a fresh page in a sketch book. One wrong stroke and I would have been a bad painting chucked in the trash. He made sure I learnt the right things. He was a master craftsman.

 

First Hindi Hit

Pyaar Ka Punchnama was a story that the youth would relate to. We felt the visuals of the film too should have the texture and feel of the story that you have experienced yourself, say, when you were in college or at a coffee shop. We did not want to glamourise it nor add too much gloss. We attempted to make the script as convincing as possible by keeping the visuals at par.

 

Digital Technology

I think it’s just another medium for me to convey a story. But I don’t think I could be convinced to use a digital camera for a project. I usually choose a camera that I believe will do justice to the script and that delivers quality that satisfies me as
a technician.

 

Future Projects

I have been roped in by Subhash Ghai for his feature film Kaanchi. It’s the best tribute I could give to my guru Ashokji, who had shot Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak and Kisna for Subhashji. Also, my film Akaash Vani will release soon.

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