It isn’t easy to recreate a super hit regional movie. Young cinematographer Vidya Sagar, an alumnus of Ramanaidu Film School is in the news for his neat and sharp work in Vishwak Sen’s directorial project Falaknuma Das, a remake of Malayalam film Angamaly Diaries .
A dark comedy, the film deals with the underbelly of a city, full of offensive characters and objectionable behaviour. The shoot took place in Hyderabad and its authenticity is visible.
Vidya Sagar recollects the challenging scenes, “I used Alexa XT with an anamorphic lens. For the chase scene in the woods that came out well, I used Gimbal, static shots, track shots etc and the audience will feel as if they are within the film. Except for one or two frames that are steady, the camera is always mobile, mostly on my shoulder and handheld. I carried it and ran through the woods. There are no track and trolley shots, it is mostly drone. Another challenging scene was the bomb blast in the market. The market was not a set, it was shot in Ziaguda mekala mandi (mutton market). Though we got permission to work there, there was some delay and shoot was intermittently stopped. There was so much goat shit, especially during Bakrid, but we went on with the shoot. The montages in the song were shot in a raw and rustic manner.”
There were a few scenes at Osmania University too. Here too the unit had secured permissions, but the student leaders didn’t allow them to shoot. After filming a fight sequence, they were forced to halt and they unit spent the rest of the day convincing the students and pleading, as there were many student unions and none of them were on the same page. They worked hard on the interval sequence and the running scene in Vikarabad forest too.
Vidya Sagar is all praise for his energetic team. But for their help, he wouldn’t have got the best compositions; for the establishment shots, they just ran blindly in the bushy area that could have been infested with snakes.
The 31 year old from Vijayawada completed his B.Pharmacy and two years of film studies in Hyderabad, after which he began handling independent projects. He struck a rapport with actor Vishwak Sen (of Vellipomake and Ee Nagaraniki Yemaindhi fame)at the film school.
As a child, Vidya Sagar was fascinated with the camera and loved capturing images on his phone and editing them on the computer. That eventually led to his choice of cinematography as his main subject in film school. He worked on short films, web series Muddhapappu Avakai, Nana Kuchi , advertisements and a song and was roped in by his friend Yakub Ali as the cameraman for Vellipomake .
It is a challenge to give better output in a shoestring budget, he says. “ Every time I had small budgets, I would try to give a good output. It isn’t enough if we have good cameras, other crafts like production design too should fall in place.” Falaknuma Das came after that and he shares, “ I couldn’t replicate Angamaly Diaries , each film has its own cultural identity and its own signature frames. The timing of the shoot, the location, weather, skin tone, everything changes.”
Meanwhile, Vidya Sagar has also wrapped up another film Raja Varu Rani Garu set against a village backdrop and Rajdhoot with newcomers
We ask him if film schools in Hyderabad are as good as the ones in the North and he says “The number of students may be less but the schools here need to be upgraded in terms of cameras and other equipment. New stuff comes in every day and we should be studying blogs on Gimbals, cameras etc. Even now in certain film schools, we train students with DSLR. I wish they would give more importance to practical training over theory.”