‘There’s no yardstick to judge a movie’

Cinematographer Natty  

Cinematographer Natarajan Subramanian, or Natty as he is known, ventured into acting by chance. A move that worked out well for him, he has worked in over 20 films as a cinematographer and half that number as an actor. He is best known for his work in Jab We Met, Black Friday, Parineeta, Raanjhanaa and the recently-released Telugu film, A Aa.

Your thoughts on A Aa creating new box-office records in the U.S. in its opening weekend?

When a movie does well, you are happy to have played a part in its success. In a travel film like A Aa, there is a lot you can experiment with. The opening shot of the movie has an affluent lady attempting suicide, and once the curiosity factor is aroused, I can capture the mood in all its essence. The joy is in transporting the viewer through various hues. The experiences I had working on this film were on a par with Jab We Met.

You took a long time to enter the Tamil industry after establishing yourself in Hindi…

I have lost count of the number of commercials I have made for TV. It was while working on them that I got to work with well-known Bollywood directors like Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, and Shoojit Sircar. And joining Sujatha Cine Arts gave me a wide platform to work with various cinematographers, and that was a huge learning experience.

When did the acting bug bite you?

I had to fill in for a newcomer in the Tamil movie Naalai, produced by Udhayabhanu Maheswaran. I was noticed by the producer when I was explaining Tamil slang to a fresher. He was impressed with my style and offered the role to me. After that, Anurag persuaded me to take it further.

Your dialogue in Sathuranga Vettai: ‘When someone tries to cheat you, do not take him to be your enemy but rather as your master...’, won you many admirers…

Credit for that goes to director Vinoth, who penned the dialogues. The present-day audience accept smart and witty dialogues. When you send across a message in a lighter vein, it lingers in the mind.

Are you tired of being typecast?

Far from it. Each character of mine may have had a negative shade, but there is still enough room to give it a different colour each time. I did play a positive character in Muthukku Muthaaga, as the eldest son of a middle-class family and did justice to it. Just like no two days are the same – viewers are unlikely to remember an actor’s previous work. Each director has an individuality of his own and boredom stems only when the same act is repeated.

Your take on the excessive usage of the digital camera?

From the producer’s point of view, it is a veritable boon. A chip can be used any number of times, unlike a can which has to be replaced every 45 minutes. It is cost-effective, and as a producer of two films, I know a thing or two on production costs.

Does it mean quality taking a back seat, as relatively anyone can effectively use a digital camera?

No. On the contrary, it is a huge opportunity to bring to light the creative prowess of a cinematographer. You have to really put your thinking cap on when the director visualises an early morning scene and the shot happens around noon. There is no limit to creativity, and thanks to my expertise and experience, I have had a free hand, and delivered the best results.

Sathuranga Vettai missed out on winning first place at the Chennai International Film Festival two years ago. Any regrets?

Not really. No one can take away the fact that the audience enjoyed the film. As an actor, my saleability factor took a huge leap. Kuttram Kadithal, which was adjudged the best, did not even last a week. It only undermines the point that there is no yardstick to judge a movie.

Are you game to play the supporting character in a movie?

I have no qualms in doing double or multiple-hero subjects, but the main lead has to be me. I have the confidence to say this.

Viewers are yet to see your style of romance…

It has not happened, but when it does, there will be a lot of individuality.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 10:05:28 PM |

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