Cinema

Finding his space

Cinematographer Jayakrishna Gummadi.Photo: Nita Sathyendran

Cinematographer Jayakrishna Gummadi.Photo: Nita Sathyendran   | Photo Credit: Nita Sathyendran

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Mumbai-based lensman Jayakrishna Gummadi on the art of crafting nuanced frames.



Jayakrishna Gummadi is in a happy frame of mind, personally and professionally. Twelve-something years after he graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, the award-winning cinematographer says he has finally found his groove.

“For the longest while I dithered, not certain about my craft and working on some films just for the sake of it. At one point I had even rejected 30 offers one after the other! For the past two years now, certain things that happened in my personal life have propelled me into a rigorous thinking space, which, in turn, has kick-started an urge to explore the art of filmmaking and cinematography in particular. Today, I am completely enjoying the craft. I’m finally standing up for my craft and not taking things lying down. I am in that space where I can take a couple of steps back and touch base with the innate sense of storytelling. When you reach that space, your craft will come naturally,” says the affable Jayakrishna or ‘JK’ as he is known in the film fraternity.

To see the change, just take a look at his filmography of late. After making 3D cinematography look a breeze in the Hindi version of Pizza (2014), JK’s wrapped up the shoot for Aneesh Daniel’s English flick The Journalist, starring Sharman Joshi in the lead. Phobia, a Hindi thriller with Radhika Apte as an agoraphobic, is also due at the box office soon. Then it’s on to the big leagues. JK is all set to crank the camera for director T.K. Rajeevkumar’s much-talked-about multilingual Kamal Hassan film, which will go on the floors in May.

He’s also working in Malayalam, once again. The lanky, Mumbai-based Telugu cameraman was in the capital city recently for the shoot of Manju Warrier-starrer Karinkunnam Sixes. Directed by Deepu Karunakaran, with whom JK first worked in Malayalam slasher-horror Winter (2009), the film is the tale of a women’s volleyball team, comprising inmates of the Central Prison, who are going to compete in a volleyball premier league. Manju plays their coach. “Unlike cricket where play extends over a day or football where the playing field is huge and where lots of drama happens all over the place, most things about a volleyball game happens in a comparatively limited space-time frame and therein lies the challenge. The volleyball court presents an interesting cinematic space...” says JK.

After a pause he adds: “A cinematographer is only as good as the space you give him. For this film Deepu’s been very receptive to my ideas and I to his. This give and take is the best, which reiterates my belief that cinema is a democratic art,” he adds.

It’s his first time shooting in Kerala and he’s loving every minute of it, not least because he is fluent in Malayalam (which he taught himself and, later, honed by friends at FTII). “Kerala’s always been a huge inspiration, after all this is home to many of India's best cinematographers and filmmakers: Santosh Sivan, K.U. Mohanan, Venu... Also, the tangible and intangible culture of the state is so rich, which somehow keeps skating into my frames,” muses JK. “On that note, I’m inspired by everything and I get inspiration from everywhere. Cinema resonates what we go through, which makes it, essentially, an interpretation of life. So, life itself is what inspires me,” he says before signing off.

Dream come true

JK can’t stop gushing about the Kamal project, which is set in the United States: “Kamal sir’s always been my hero while growing up in Hyderabad. Out of the blue a few days ago Rajeev chettan called me and asked me to send some of my reels to him. Kamal sir must have seen the clips for soon I got a call from Rajkamal [Kamal Haasan’s production house]: ‘Congratulations, you are the new director of photography for Rajkamal’s next production!’ Just like that I became a part of the film. It’s a special project for all concerned. Rajeev chettan is working with Kamal sir some 27 years after Chanakyan. Also, the film is based on a story by Kamal sir himself. I’ve worked with almost all the top stars – Salman Khan, SRK, Aamir , Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and the likes in ads and/or films. But, I’ve never been this excited until now. This project really is a dream come true.”

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Printable version | Nov 20, 2018 1:25:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinematographer-jayakrishna-gummadi-on-his-craft/article8413517.ece

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