Shekhar Soni

Shekhar Soni : In Conversation With A Cinematographer

Shekhar Soni known for his outstanding camera work, which has made him a popular name in the entertainment industry.

Soni began his career as a cinematographer in the early 2012 and has since worked on a vast number of television commercials. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the country, including Mahindra and Mahindra , Moneygram, Philips and many more. His expertise in cinematography has been crucial in creating visually appealing commercials that have helped companies in building their brand image.

Soni’s work in television commercials, Soni has also made a name for himself in the world of web series. He recently worked as a Director of Photography (DOP) on the web series “Virodh,” which has received rave reviews from both critics and audiences alike.

In “Virodh,” Soni’s expert camera work has helped bring the characters and story to life. His use of lighting and camera angles has helped to convey the emotions and tensions of the story in a visually stunning way. His work has been instrumental in creating a mood that keeps the audience engaged throughout the series.

Soni’s cinematography in “Virodh” has been hailed as some of his best work yet. He has shown a great understanding of how to use camera angles, lighting, and color grading to tell a story effectively. His work on the series has helped to elevate it from being just another web series to something that is truly special.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema?
As a child my early influences towards cinema was watching movies or television shows with family or friends, going to the movie theatre for a special occasion, reading books or comics that have been adapted into films, playing video games with cinematic elements, or simply being drawn to the visual and storytelling aspects of film.

How did you first become interested in cinematography? Did you start with photography?
Cinematography is a passion that has been burning within me since my earliest encounters with film, television, and other visual media. The way that movies and TV shows are crafted to tell a story through carefully shot and edited scenes has always fascinated me, and I am constantly drawn to explore the technical aspects of this captivating art form.
As a photographer, I found myself naturally drawn to the similarities between these two art forms. The ability to use visual composition, lighting, and color to convey emotion and meaning is a powerful tool that both photography and cinematography share. The idea of capturing moving images and exploring the vast storytelling potential of video has become a driving force in my life, and I am eager to learn all I can about this endlessly intriguing craft.”

What steps did you take to train yourself?
I began my journey to train myself by studying how’s light behaves naturally and artificially. I then immersed myself in world cinema without sound, exploring the visual aspects of storytelling. Finally, I spent five to six years assisting top industry DOPs, learning the technical aspects of cinematography and the collaborative process of bringing a director’s vision to life.

Have you assisted anyone? How does it help one?
My journey as a cinematographer has led me to work alongside some of the most renowned DOPs in the industry, including the likes of Sejal Shah, Sanjay Kapoor, and Benjamin Jasper ( Australian DOP ) . Through this experience, I gained a unique insight into the work culture of our craft, and how it takes collaboration and dedication to create something truly exceptional.

How did your first film project come about?
My first foray into the world of film came as a result of my reputation in the commercial industry. My peers in the film industry had seen my previous work and were impressed with my ability to deliver high-quality projects within a tight timeline and budget. Although my latest film project looked like it had a big budget, I managed to create a cinematic masterpiece with very cost-effective solutions. It just goes to show that with creativity, resourcefulness, and a passion for the craft, anything is possible.

What is perhaps the most important factor for you to choose a script?
When it comes to choosing a script, I believe that a great story is the foundation of any successful project. A well-crafted script should have a clear and compelling narrative, fully-realized characters, and natural dialogue that keeps the audience engaged. It should also be thoughtfully structured and paced to create a sense of flow and tension.
But beyond the technical aspects of script selection, the most important factor is the project’s goals and objectives. Every script has the potential to become something great, but it’s up to us as filmmakers to identify which ones will best serve our vision and bring it to life in a way that truly resonates with our audience.

Is cinematography intuitive or is it something you learn?
Cinematography is both an intuitive and learned skill. While some may possess a natural eye for capturing beautiful and compelling visuals, mastering cinematography also requires a significant amount of technical knowledge and experience.
Learning the principles of lighting, camera movement, composition, and color theory is essential for creating effective cinematography. In addition, a cinematographer must be familiar with the technical aspects of cameras, lenses, and other filmmaking equipment. Collaborating closely with the director, production designer, and other members of the creative team to execute their vision for the film is also crucial.
However, there is an artistic element to cinematography that cannot be taught in a classroom or through technical training. The ability to translate a director’s vision into a visual language that tells a story and evokes emotions requires creativity, imagination, and intuition. A great cinematographer can balance both technical expertise and artistic vision to create stunning and unforgettable visuals on screen.

Tell us something bout your latest film?
In the gripping web series “Virodh” currently streaming on MX Player, viewers are transported to the gritty world of illegal sand mining in Uttar Pradesh. Led by the notorious Bahubali Teja Fauji, this family of sand miners is no stranger to danger and power plays. But when Teja Fauji meets his untimely demise, his daughter Kajri is left to navigate a treacherous landscape on her own. Amidst the ruthless scheming of her uncle and the political ambitions of a local politician, Kajri must fight to reclaim her family’s legacy and forge her own path. With stunning cinematography and a powerful script, “Virodh” is a must-watch for fans of gritty, character-driven drama.

Where do you seek inspiration from?
As a cinematographer, I find inspiration in a wide range of sources such as art, literature, music, and nature. These sources help me to create a visual style and tone that complements the story and themes of the film. I also collaborate with the director and production designer to develop a visual language that engages the audience emotionally and supports the storytelling.
To achieve this, I experiment with various cinematographic elements such as camera angles, lighting techniques, and color palettes, to create a memorable and unique visual experience. Drawing from my own experiences and observations, as well as classic and contemporary films, I strive to create a visual world that resonates with the audience and enhances the film’s narrative impact.

What is in the kitty right now?
Currently, I am fortunate enough to have a couple of exciting projects lined up. One of them is for Sony LIV which will be going on floor soon. Additionally, I am also working on a commercial for a brand. I am looking forward to showcasing my skills and delivering outstanding results for both these projects.

What’s your dream project?
I am not fixated on working with any particular producer or director. Instead, I am drawn to the creative minds behind works that have captured the hearts and imaginations of audiences. I am inspired by those who have consistently pushed the boundaries of their craft and have been recognised for their unique vision and storytelling. Collaborating with such individuals would not only be a great opportunity for me to learn and grow as a cinematographer, but also a chance to contribute to the creation of exceptional films that resonate with audiences worldwide.

Your most memorable blunder?
To this day, I am grateful that I have not made any significant mistakes in my work. I believe that attention to detail, careful planning, and a commitment to excellence have been key factors in my success so far. However, I am also aware that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, and I remain open to feedback and constructive criticism to continue improving my craft.

Any advice to the inspiring cinematographers?
To become a successful cinematographer, it’s important to develop both technical and artistic skills. You can do this by reading books, taking classes, and analysing films critically. Familiarising yourself with different types of cameras, lenses, and lighting setups through experimentation is also crucial for achieving a desired look and feel.
Practice is key in improving your skills, so make sure to consistently work on your craft by shooting with a basic camera or even creating a short film. Building a network of relationships with filmmakers, producers, and industry professionals is also crucial for opening up opportunities. Attend film festivals and industry events, and connect with people through social media and professional organisations.
Remember to be patient in your journey as becoming a successful cinematographer takes time and persistence. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks or rejection, and continue to work hard on your craft. With dedication and perseverance, you can achieve your goals.

What book, music, movie are you enjoying right now?
Currently I’m reading “AGE OF VICE” Author Deepti Kapoor,
listening “PAPON” Music, he’s voice is outstanding.
Last movie which I’ve enjoyed was Top Gun: Maverick

Share this post