Vikram Amladi : In Conversation With A Cinematographer

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema?
As a child I my earliest influences towards cinema were from the Black & White Golden Era of Hindi cinema of Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Guru Dutt. Mainly the songs of these films remain in my childhood memories for the vividly contrasty and artistic images.

Did you start with photography? If yes, why did you choose to leave photography to take up motion picture professionally?
I used to practice photography for my scientific work and academic purposes. The transition from still to Motion happened at a much later stage, as I felt moving images in motion were much effective in documenting and expressing stories.

How did you first become interested in cinematography?
During my Masters course in Pune in 2000, I was introduced to watching films at the NFAI Pune on a daily basis, this ritual actually pushed me to the cinematography aspect of filmmaking.

What steps did you take to train yourself?
After completing a Masters in Video Production from Pune University in 2002, I assisted for a year under senior Cinematographer Mahesh Aney, this further encouraged me to pursue a 3 years PGD in Cinematography from SRFTI (2003-06).

Have you assisted anyone? How does it help one?
I was lucky to assist Shri Mahesh Aney for an almost year long period prior to my SRFTI course. Upon course completion I further assisted Bobby Singh and then later Tribhuvan Babu. Each assistantship has added a certain element in my personality. Assisting helps you grow into the wider world of filmmaking, as this process teaches you a lot of the process outside of the technicality of the cinematography part.

How did your first film project come about?
I had met Nagraj Manjule the director of my first feature “Fandry” in academic workshop in 2008. We stayed in touch post that and had been discussing and detailing the Fandry script since 2009. Finally in Summer 2012, we got a green light from the producers and it happenend.

How do you decide that you want to shoot a given film? What are those factors?
Its got to be a combination of factors, script, actors, people involved, money, location they all count into pulling me towards a certain project.

Is cinematography intuitive or is it something you learn?
Learning the academic context certainly helps, intuition helps you further your learning into action.

What part does risk-taking play in your work, if any?
Given the current competitive and challenging cinematography landscape, risk taking seems to be almost the norm to succeed and survive.

Do you think the audience is perceptive about how cinematography augments moods and helps establish a sense of time and place?
Audience perception is very subconscious; a lot depends upon who and what you are watching as an audience. In a Sci-Fi or Fantasy genre or when watching certain actors, the audience is able to take a leap of faith, but with some subjects like a Biopic it some times needs to be a little subtle or realistic.

There is so much emphasis on technology in the public dialog about cinematography. Is that a distraction from the real job? Has technology changed the way you work?
Technology has certainly enhanced our work styles. The information deluge is a slight distraction from the real job.

Where do you seek inspiration from?
Nature and every day observations.

Any advice to the inspiring cinematographers?
Just be open minded and keep it simple stupid….

Vikram’s work can be seen here, here and here.

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