Outlier cinematographer shoots to fame

Manesh Madhavan  

Remember the long single shots, one even lasting six minutes, in Sanju Surendran’s film Aeden? They were the signature shots of Manesh Madhavan, the young, relatively unknown cinematographer, who trumps big-time directors of photography to win this year’s State film award, announced on Thursday.

Marco Mueller, who was the jury chairman at last year’s IFFK, had perhaps foreseen the prize coming. The Italian critic and film festival curator, had lavished praise on the “distinct cinematography” of Aeden. The film had won two awards at IFFK 2017.

A friend of Manesh’s describes him as an outlier in the film industry. Not after fame, not willing to gatecrash, “kind of a philosopher cameraman”.

The self-effacing cinematographer was in Varanasi shooting a Hindi film when the big news came to him. “The film was a great team work,” he told The Hindu over the phone from Varanasi.

“Sanju Surendran and I have worked together on many projects, like the docu film Kapila, before. Aeden is the continuation of that team work.”

Manesh, who hails from Pampakuda in Ernakulam, studied cinematography at the Film and Television Institute of India, and was trained at Berlinale Talent Campus held as part of the Berlin International Film Festival, 2008. The first feature film that he worked on was Amit Dutta’s Hindi film Aadmi Ki Aurat Aur Anya Kahaniya, which took the Venice film festival award. Manesh was the second unit head in two Hindi films. He wrote and shot the multi-lingual Tree of Tongues in Tripura. Another Malayalam feature film that he shot, Sushmesh Chandroth’s Padmini, will be released soon.

Manesh describes himself as a director’s cinematographer, highlighting the importance of team work.

What does he remember most from Aeden? “The funeral shot,” he said. “It was such a long shot, the scene was choreographed, and there were some 50 characters. Had a single character looked up at the camera, the scene would have collapsed.” And, when the hangover of Aeden fades, Manesh would like “to do more mainstream films”.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 3:19:35 AM |

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