Cinematographer Ravi Varman is making news for his brilliant work in 'Badrinath'
After Nitin-starrer Jai cinematographer Ravi Varman took a good nine years to shoot another Telugu movie. And when he did, the movie has to be a mega-budget one. The audience's response to Badrinath might be lukewarm but what everyone noticed was the camera work. The picturesque frames and stunning locales were captured to perfection by Ravi Varman. Known for his realistic picturisation and poetic framing sense, Ravi Varman says paintings of great artists inspire him. A die-hard nature lover, village scenes and the natural appeal of the villages instantly click with him. “I am from a small village in Tanjore and I grew up seeing the natural beauty around me. I connect with natural sights almost instantly,” he says.
So when Badrinath came to him, he knew what he would give the audience. “Shooting in the Himalayas is not easy. The light is inconsistent and everything from the weather to the mood can play truant. The secret lies in taming the conditions we get to shoot,” he explains. Ravi shot the movie with three Panavision cameras and as he started shooting he was sure to capture magic in the frame. “We cannot go against what the director wants. Within the limited options we have, we need to give our best. I enjoy every vision. To get the perfect frame, I cut the light in the shots where the sun is harsh. And since the weather condition is unpredictable we had to be prepared for any kind of a situation,” he says.
But what made a boy from a village with an agricultural background get into camera work? The cinematographer turns nostalgic. “I lost my parents when I was 12-year-old. There was no way I could remember their faces as there were no photographs of them. In our village a camera was unheard of and what remained in my mind was memory. I would paint my thoughts in a bid to visualise them but I never got it right.
Then in someone's house I saw a photo and in the background of that photo I could see my mother's image. It was a shadow but I knew it was her. That was the moment that made me think about cameras. When I was doing a job for Rs.100, I bought a Zenith camera for Rs. 125 and a film roll for Rs. 4; I haven't stopped since then,” recollects Ravi Varman. And before he could realise, Ravi Varman has become an International award-winning cinematographer. His body of work, comprises films such as Jalamarmaram, Santham, Kilichundan Mambazham (Malayalam), Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu, Dasavataram, Anniyan, Autograph (Tamil), Armaan, Phir Milenge, Ramji Londonwale (Hindi ) and Jai (Telugu) to name a few.
He is also the recipient of the best cinematography award at the 23rd International Film Festival in France for Jayaraj's Malayalam film, Santham. “I also directed Moscowin Kaveri last year starring Rahul Ravindran and Samantha Ruth Prabhu. But I think cinematography will remain my first love,” he says.