Anish Tharun Kumar ( Cinematographer ) has just finished his latest project Kothaga Rekkolocchana. In a small conversation with Y.Sunita Chowdhary of Klapboardpost.com, we understand that it is easy to lean into his world and learn how he approaches creativity and creation. His process is a mix of intuition, preparation and collaboration.
What was the reason that made you take up a career in Cinematography? And how have you been upgrading yourself since your first film?
I was into photography from an early age and wanted to experiment with motion picture cameras. I applied for a course in a Film Institute and had a brilliant teacher. After the institute I worked as an assistant to R.D.Rajasekar (DOP) who is also my guru and that’s how it all started. I have shot 7 feature films over various genres and the best way to upgrade is to watch a lot of films and learn from the work of other Indian & International cinematographers.
What are the creative decisions & inputs you have produced that enhance the visual quality of any of your films over the years ?
The creative ideas start the very moment I hear the script for the first time. Most of my creative decisions are regarding the colour palette of the film. The colour palette of the production design,the costumes and the entire look and feel of the film. I am very adamant & particular about what I want. I do my best to bring the vision of the writer/director onto the big screen.
Most of the scripts in some way or the other resemble some creative works of the Past. What do you do to bring an essence of freshness into those kinds of scripts?
Well, all the scripts or stories ever written right from Ramayana to Avengers do have a certain amount of similarities between them in terms of the idea, concept & the genre. What I do to bring some freshness into the script is that I read the screenplay a lot of times and I do my shot breakdowns in a way that it looks and feels like a new concept. Those shot breakdown help me determine the kind of lenses, equipment and lights that I need to use. I always make sure that I work with an online edit in every shoot and it helps to know what’s working and what’s not.
Isn’t it a dream for every Cinematographer to work with brilliant directors? Have you been in a space so far or are you working towards it ?
I would say my dream is to work with my favourite directors whose films I have loved to watch and from whom I learn a lot. For example the great Mani Ratnam Sir. I learn so much from him by just watching his films, imagine how much I would learn working with him. Everything I do everyday is to reach my goals and yes I am working towards it.
Can you elaborate your association with your directors so far ? How do you communicate and visualise with them ?
Homework before shooting that director and I is the key to making a good film. My communication and visualization, I put everything down on the paper in terms of storyboarding and photo references and I expect the same from the direction team. Plus I am a cool person to work with and I make sure the working atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly.
Who/what are some of your influences ( Favourite Dop’s / Films ) ?
Well, the list is quite long. As I said earlier I am a huge fan of Mani Ratnam sir so naturally my most favourite Dop is PC Sreeram. I try my best to not get influenced by anyone so that I retain my originality and bring out something unique. But yes, once in a while I do frame my shots or light up in a certain way to pay tribute to my favourite technicians.
What was your most challenging film and why ?
By far the most challenging film was ‘Anando Brahma’ (Telugu). Comedy is not easy to shoot or bring out. Plus shooting inside the very same house for that many days was exhausting physically and creatively. Few days into the shoot I had used up almost all the geography of the house and it was a challenge coming up with new ways to frame the shots in a different way. But it was all worth it and the film ended up becoming a blockbuster.
You have worked in Tamil, Telugu & Kannada. Are you happy with the way your career is progressing in the south & do you have plans to move to Bollywood ?
Irrespective of the language or the geography the script is the main factor that gets me excited to do a film. I am very happy with the kind of scripts or people I have worked with. Yes I do have plans to work in Bollywood and have signed a Hindi film to be shot later this year. I always look forward to expanding my portfolio.
Can you share details of your current telugu film project ?
The film is titled ‘Kothaga Rekkalochena’. It is produced by Sridhar Lagadapati under the banner Ramalakshmi Cine Creations. Pradip Atluri is the director of the film. It’s a teenage romantic comedy and the script is very well written by Pradip. The first time I read the script I was mind blown by it and agreed to work on it that very moment. I have enjoyed working with everybody in the team and the film has come out very well. I am proud to be associated with this project and I am very sure the audience will enjoy it very much.
Your outlook on the evolution of films from theatres to OTT platforms.
The world has been in a constant state of evolution for the last millions of years and the future will always be different than the past. And everything in this world has its own positives and negatives. But I will tell you one thing is that nothing can come close to an experience of watching a movie on the big screen with the surround sound plus the smell of freshly baked popcorn and the audience cheering and clapping. It will and always be an out of the world experience.