"Let The Script Talk To You & Then You Can Find The Solution" - Anil Mehta Shares Pearls Of Wisdom On Cinematography!

By Srikanth Kanchinadham. Posted on February 10, 2016

One of our favourite people, leading cinematographer Anil Mehta, was at the Bengaluru International Film Festival recently, to deliver the V. K. Murthy Memorial lecture, where he delivered a paper on the evolution of Indian cinematography. Crisp & clear as ever, he spoke on the influence of V. K. Murthy & Subrata Mitra on Indian cinematographers. According to Mehta, the two legends represent the two extremes within which most of the work by Indian cinematographers can be categorized. To Mehta, while Mitra's work was closer to the western mode of representation, Murthy's work resonated more with Indian emotions & drama.

The lecture was followed by an interesting Q&A session that had Mehta answering a range of questions, from the extremely specific & technical to the broader, more philosophical ones. We managed to get the entire session on camera so you can watch it below & learn for yourself. We've compiled a few nuggets of wisdom below from the many that Mr. Mehta shared during the session.

On Cinematography

Understand all the numbers and procedures. Let the influences be many, but in the end, go by your feeling; because that’s the best way to derive joy and give joy in this line of work.

A film is never made with good or pretty shots; the film is made with the narrative. If you, as a cinematographer accept that on day 1, you will be a happier person. If it does not work in the movie, it is best left out.

Let the script talk to you and then you can find the solution.

My approach will be determined by the material. The treatment will follow from the material.

The script will tell you where to take it and better have the means & tools to take it there with conviction.

On The Impact Of Digitalisation On A Cinematographer's Role

On my sets ‘Post main dekh lenge’ is a joke.

If you go with the attitude of making the film in the right way; whether you are shooting on film or digital; that attitude is going to be the determinant. Not the technology.

Digital will allow you to go into places that were not possible before.

On Improvising

No film should be made without planning but at the same time no film should be so closed that it leaves no space for improvisation.

Once you are shooting, everything must be open-ended & it is not precluding that you have done your homework.

Learn all the rules and make sure you understand them very clearly; then you yourself will understand how to break or manipulate them.

One hopes to grow with every work and you have to go in there trying to enjoy every film that you do.

Go and find the film while you are making it.


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