The reign of foreign cinematographers in tinseltown
Deccan Chronicle.| Sashidhar Adivi
Cinematographers from abroad are cornering happening projects in Tollywood
Miroslaw Kuba Brozek explaining a scene to Allu Arjun on the sets of Pushpa. (Photo By Arrangement)
At a time when Telugu films are getting global acclaim, filmmakers are looking to work with international technicians to raise the bar! A step in that direction is the import of foreign cinematographers into Tollywood.
Several cinematographers like Miroslaw Kuba Brozek, Dani Sanchez-Lopez and Shaneil Deo are increasingly keen to work in Indian films because of the new prospects these films bring. While the move is aimed at enriching the visual quality of films, it also gives filmmakers an edge and a different way of telling stories, appealing to a wider audience.
New dimensions in storytelling
Ever since the Allu Arjun-starrer Pushpa was released last year, Polish cinematographer Miroslaw Kuba Brozek’s name has been on everybody’s lips.
His cinematography was one of the most-talked about aspects. No wonder Allu Arjun asked Kuba to work for the sequel too.
Apparently, Pushpa director Sukumar was thrilled with Kuba’s work in Gang Leader and roped in him for the project. "When director Vikram Kumar visited Poland to shoot one of his earlier films, he happened to see my work in Polish films. He liked it and offered me work in Gang Leader. And the rest is history," shares Kuba.
"Working with Allu Arjun has been an exhilarating experience. What I observed is that despite being a top star he never takes his position for granted. He’s always prepared to slog and push himself," says Kuba.
"Working in India fascinated me because of the emerging dimensions in storytelling and progressive thinking of filmmakers," he reveals, adding that there’s hardly any difference in the way people work in India and in Poland.
The cinematographer says the Pushpa sequel will be bigger and more intense. The pre-production work for the sequel is done, according to the cinematographer.
Spanish-origin cinematographer Dani Sanchez Lopez made heads turn with his fantastic work in Mahanati, a biopic on late yesteryear actress Savitri, directed by Nag Ashwin. He subsequently worked for Rana Daggubati-starrer Virata Parvam.
Apparently, Nag wanted to hire Dani for his Project K, starring Prabhas. But since Dani's father was down with Covid-19 at that point, the filmmakers roped in another cinematographer from overseas, D George.
Producer Aswini Dutt is all praises for the Serbian. "Since it is a futuristic Sci-Fi film and is high on Vfx, we needed someone who could visualise well and has sound knowledge of technology. George’s superior experience in graphics and blue mat is an asset, apart from his cinematography skills. He is very quick to grasp," says Dutt, describing George as "fast and effective."
Born in Fiji and raised in California, Shaneil Deo is another name to reckon with in cinematography in Tollywood. He proved his mettle with the finest camera work and some breath-taking visuals in films like Goodachari, Evaru, Nishabdam, World Dog, etc. And now he’s one of the go-to cinematographers.
Shaneil, who has been working in Tollywood for over six years, tells us what keeps him coming back. "The people’s passion for storytelling," he responds.
The cinematographer shares that he finds script narration and technology in Telugu films evolving with time. "I love the overall thought process that goes into filmmaking. The freedom I get as a cinematographer, and the conversations I have with filmmakers and actors help me nurture my skills," says Shaniel.
"Initially I had to make a bit of cultural adaptation, but once I did that, I understood how advanced the filmmakers here are. I believe the language of cinema is universal, and as Telugu films started getting wider acclaim, it was also a challenge for me to enhance and capture the rich essence in the visuals," he explains.
Before moving to Hyderabad to work in Tollywood six years ago, his 20-minute short, Layla, was the official entry for the 68th Cannes Film Festival in 2015.