Cinema Movies

I don’t repeat my style: Sathyan Sooryan

On a journey Sathyan Sooryan on the sets of ‘Yatra’  

Yatra is Sathyan Sooryan’s first film in Telugu as a cinematographer and he jumped at the opportunity to work on this trilingual. All his earlier films belonged to more or less the same genre and he was waiting to break the stereotype. It had been his dream to do a movie in Telugu ever since he worked as an assistant in Athadu, Keka and Jalsa. His films Mayuri (Maya in Tamil) and Khakee did much better in Telugu than Tamil. When Mahi Raghav narrated Yatra as a road film, he knew a little bit about YS Rajashekar Reddy and visualised the story. To break the monotony, there is an drama shot indoor in the Yatra. He recollects, “I got a good graph of outdoor and indoor shots. There was not much of a change as the story happened in 2000 and it wasn’t an arduous task as in Mahanati or Kathanayakudu. I wanted something nostalgic and little period. He and the people around him were all are in white and the area he covered was dry land. So I used lot of brown and red in the background, the tone which I was looking for came through that. To give a break from the white, we got retro things like cupboards, teak wood in sand colour in the interior.”

Sathyan observes that there was nothing much to do to make Mammootty look pleasant. He waxes eloquent, “If your actor is good looking, half your job is done. If he is a performer like Mammootty, the work becomes all the more easy. His presence even under a small bulb will give you a great dimension. By merely standing or turning on a particular side, he helped the image turn great, so I didn’t want do any experimental lighting and presented him in a neat manner conscious that he is returning to Telugu cinema after years.” A Fine Arts student from Chennai, Sathyan assisted P C Sreeram for seven years in ten films. “It was a gradual transition from fine arts to photography and then to cinematography. In photography, the subject doesn’t move and in cinematography, the subject and camera positions move. Photography is a single frame, where in cinematography you have to tell a story continuously in 24 frames per second. It is a challenge and I like that.”

About PC Sreeram’s working style, Sathyan says there won’t be any formal training, everything is practical and it is like a guru-sishya system. He will show you a path and you have to understand and move towards that. He will push you to that challenge and you have to face it. You will learn how to handle production and aesthetics as well. Sathyan also adds about debut directors and their working style. “PC changes himself for every movie and never gets stuck with one idea or one lighting pattern. With him there is always a self discovery and exploration. On the other hand new directors come up with a small line, fresh idea and we help them to accomplish that. It is a wild idea and don’t know if it is grammatically correct, but we help them.”

To stay in the game, Sathyan takes note whenever something new is being launched. The social media is of great help. He believes that if you are good there’s no need to worry about competition. “I work for a film whole heartedly and move to the next. Good or bad, if the work is good people will call no matter how the film fares at BO. I love to watch parallel and world cinema but in the last one or two years I’m not getting much time. I see a lot of online streaming films. Earlier I would carry a briefcase full of DVDs and technical books from one place to another, now it is all on one tab. I want to create images that are long lasting, some powerful images for myself that I can be proud of. I became a cinematographer by watching great cinematographers.”

It helps if a cinematographer is an avid traveller, he thinks. New places inspire them and lead to a memory bank that can e be useful in picking frames or colours for a movie. Though every technician has a style, Sathyan doesn’t want to confine himself to a set pattern of filmmaking. He signs off, “I don’t want to repeat the same style. It is like everyone can do it. If you create a pattern and leave it, anyone can do it. I want to create images that stand for some time.”

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 2:46:17 PM |

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