The death of venerated cinematographer S. Ramachandra (Shivaramaiah Ramachandra Aithal) has created a void that will be hard to fill in the Kannada film industry.
He was considered a friend, philosopher and guide to parallel film-makers in the State who shot to national fame, especially in the 1970s.
For “Rishyashringa” of V.R.K. Prasad, he shot a village near Nanjangud. He created a dreary, dry feel to complement the content as much of the film was about rain that was scarce. In the entire composition, he stressed on the blank mud walls and sun drenched fields. He got the national award for “Rishyashringa”.
He highlighted the yellow in terms of lighting to build a theme for “Mane” by Girish Kasaravalli. Similarly his contribution in capturing pains and emotions of Choma in “Chomanadudi” and child widow Yamunakka in “Ghatashraddha” is unforgettable.
For one underwater shot for “Malgudi Days” directed by Shankar Nag, Ramachandra got into a glass box and plunged into the Tunga waters, as taking that shot in any other way would have been more expensive for the producer.
After securing a rank in the pre-university course, ‘Ramu' (as he was addressed by his friends) went to the National Film and Television Institute in Pune and learnt cinematography. He worked as an assistant cameraman for U.M.N. Sharif, who shot “Vamsha vriksha” directed by Girish Karnad and B.V. Karanth, which was shot entirely in Mysore and Nanjangud.
It was during the shooting of “Vamsha vriksha” that P.V. Nanjaraja Urs, who identified Ramachandra's talent, asked him to work for his “Sankalpa”, which was Ramachandra's first independent venture as cinematographer.
Sharing his association with Ramachandra, veteran filmmaker P.V. Nanjaraje Urs told The Hindu that he was assisting G.V. Iyer, Karanth and Karnad during “Vamshavriksha” production and keenly observing work of Ramachandra.
“He was very talented and shy in nature. He used to mix with only a few people. However, cinematographer Sharif used to brush aside his suggestions, which I found valid and useful”, he recalled.
The film had all new faces including Ananth Nag (then Anantha Nagarakatte) and Ramachandra's cinematography provided distinct character to the film, which was shot entirely at an indoor location.