No doubt, Telugu filmmakers are trying to raise the bar with their films, roping in ace cinematographers to deliver visual splendours.
Take for instance, Hollywood cinematographer Sheldon Chau and Polish cinematographer Miroslaw Brozek who cranked the camera for big-ticket Telugu films such as Mosagallu and Gang Leader, respectively.
Closer home, the legendary P. C. Sreeram (Rang De), Senthil Kumar (RRR) and Tirru (Acharya), American-born cinematographer Shaneil Deo (Nishabdham) are trying to deliver eye-catching visuals.
From behind the cameras
Ace cinematographer Senthil Kumar admits that visuals in Telugu cinema have improved drastically over the last few years.
“Also, talented cinematographers are getting some good work to do. It is also equally true that cinematographers are getting some space in the media these days after being relegated to behind-the-screens for many years,” says Senthil with a smile.
Talking about the cinematography for period drama RRR, with two big stars — Jr NTR and Ram Charan — donning legendary roles, he says they’ve been trying to capture the pre-Independence era as authentically as possible.
Of course, working with an ace director such as Rajamouli adds to his calibre, points out Senthil.
In exploration of lights and angles
Similarly, another National-Award winning cinematographer Tirru, who worked in big Bollywood blockbusters such as Krissh 3, will join hands with ace director Koratala Siva for Chiranjeevi’s big-ticket movie Acharya.
“Chiranjeevi garu could create magic within a moment on screen,” says Tirru. He then tells us that they’ve shot in a township erected in 15 to 20 acres with 300 feet roads and an elegant 80-feet temple gopuram.
They will also soon start shooting in dense forests to give a Western kind of look for their magnum opus. This is one of the costliest movies in Tirru’s career, he tells us, promising also to deliver a visually enchanting movie.
Directing visual feasts
Hemant Madhukar brings a director’s perspective in roping in talented cinematographers.
“For Nishabdham, we wanted breath-taking visuals and so roped in American-born Shaneil Deo to deliver a movie in anamorphic format,” explains Hemant.
He states that unlike a few seasoned Telugu cinematographers, Shaneil is well-versed in technology.
“He is also exposed to world cinema and comes up with fresh ideas on location to capture stunning visuals. Besides, he understands the temperature of foreign locales, which is the key for beautiful cinematography,” Hemant adds.
He also remembers how directors such as Mani Ratnam and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who create soft love stories rich in visuals and splendour, have been delivering visual feasts.
A Yankee in T-wood
Another pertinent example in this set of famed cinematographers stepping into Tollywood is Hollywood cameraman Sheldon Chau of Summer Night and Nigerian Prince.
In T-wood, he cranked the camera for the upcoming movie Mosagallu starring Vishnu Manchu, Kajal Aggarwal and Suneil Shetty.
R. Vijay Kumar, executive producer, of the big ticket movie tells us that after browsing through various big names, Hollywood director, Jeffrey Gee Chin, felt that Sheldon Chau would be the right fit.
Pointing out how Sheldon believes in minimal lighting and works hard for extravagant visuals, Vijay recollects how he turned an almost everyday visual to something extraordinary with his touch.
“Although, I have seen the Charminar a hundred times before, Sheldon captured it from a new angle, leaving us stunned. And that is the cream of his work’s elegance,” explains Vijay.
“Similarly, during a shoot, though he goes with the storyboard, he improvises on location to capture the best moments on screen. Personally, I think Santhosh Sivan is one of the best cinematographers in India, and Sheldon is equally good and is soon going to make his mark.”