8 Young DPs Upping the Ante of the Creative Landscape in the Country
It’s an exciting time to be a cinematographer. Never has the field been this open for innovation, art and storytelling at the same time as having the barriers to entry to learn the craft be so low. Yet, there are a few whose versatility and craftsmanship is cause for celebration.
In the golden age of content creation, video too is getting redefined. From broadcast to digital, the canvas has never been this exciting for both short and long-form video content. Meet the talented, young DOPs (Director of Photography) who are defining niches with their prolific craftsmanship and visual storytelling.
Counting narratives and feature films amongst his favourite formats of storytelling Aditya Varma is quick to admit, “Narrative is very important to me. The format dictates the runtime. I also like large-formats or full length films because the journey lasts between 4-6 months.” Aditya’s repertoire comprises of a wide variety of visual narratives — from festival darlings like Namdev Bhau, Kia & Cosmos, to music videos such as ‘Cold/Mess’. Although the photographer swears by Fujifilm XT3 for all shoots, “There are times I shoot raw footage on cinematic camera. Built-in ND filters and functionalities regarding motion and rigging are important.”
Fashion/ Music Videos/ Commercials
Camera of Choice:
Sony Venice 6K Cinema Camera & Phantom Flex 4K Ultra Slow Motion Camera/ Bolt Cinema Robot
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Anuj has a rising stature in the world of commercials and counts along with TVCs, both Fashion and Music Video amongst the most exciting formats. He says, “I get to experiment with new looks everyday, meet new people regularly. It adds to the versatility in creating different visuals.” The future promises to be rosy with “fantastic quality gear becoming accessible to filmmakers and within affordable budgets.” He likes to pair Zeiss Supreme Primes with his favourites — Sony Venice 6K for regular shoots, and the Phantom Flex 4K Ultra Slow Motion camera for 1000FPS shots.
“I usually like to shoot in environments where I can control light. I find myself in studio situations mostly while creating fashion, music video and advertising. Shooting outdoor can get challenging as you are in the hands of nature.”
Kolkata-based cinematographer Modhura Palit became the first Indian to receive the prestigious Angenieux Encouragement Award, conferred to upcoming cinematographers, at the Cannes Film Festival 2019. When asked, she reveals, “I love working on the Alexa, and the Angeniux Optimos lenses. I also love the Sony Alpha 7SII which works out in difficult scenarios and low-light locations.” Although she claims fiction to be her most preferred format, she shares a proclivity for music videos. Musing on the next big trend, she reveals, “Immersive cinematography is something to be watching out for. The subject of cinematography is fast changing its dynamics and creating a immersive experience for the audiences. I also predict a return of film in cinematography. These are very exciting times for any cinematographer.”
Krish Makhija is a fan of mixing things up and “creating a balance with the different formats that exist.” He says, “I’m a big fan of shooting long-format fiction but I’m as happy to go and sit in a forest for weeks to shoot a documentary.” The cinematographer rose through the indie environment. He reveals, “I gravitate towards working with smaller crews. I’m still getting used to all the Taam-Jhaam that comes with the big sets,” adding, “I always get a little uncomfortable when there are so many people around. What’s the next best thing to watch out for? He shares, “I’m a big fan of going back to the basics and I’m constantly trying to learn and dive deep into the analogue processes that are at the foundation of most modern technology. So in my free time, I’m always trying to experiment and work with film as a medium.”
A graduate of the American Film Institute, LA, Kabir Tejpal naturally leans towards narrative storytelling. Having hit the festival circuit right with his thesis film which premiered at the Palm Springs Film Festival back in 2015, he’s only grown from there. A versatile cinematographer and filmmaker, he’s worked on commercials and documentaries, including Hoop Nation, which documented 4 homegrown basketball stories from India in an experimental lyrical-docu format. He reveals, “I am an outdoor person, and love shooting the lap of nature, be it hills, beaches, grasslands or meadows.” He gives us a heads up about the new talent to watch out for adding, “Azaan Shah is a young photographer from Kashmir with a fresh perspective on capturing emotion with environment. Sohrab Hura is also a force to reckon with as an artist.”
SHREYA DEV DUBE
Shreya Dev Dube studied photography in Melbourne and later went on to specialise in cinematography at Eicar, Paris. Her most recent work is a feature-length film called Cat Sticks, that won the Grand jury prize at Mammoth Lake Film Festival. She reveals, “The lenses really depend on the project that I’m working on. But I am an Arri Alexa girl, and the new Alexa LF is brilliant. I love the way it captures faces, the fall is incredible.” Shreya has worked as an operator on Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy. As she parts ways she adds, “Bangladeshi photographers are the next best thing in photography. There’s some brilliant work coming out from there, take Sarker Protick, for example.”
Although Kaushal’s repertoire covers the gamut — narrative, commercial, documentary, and music videos, Kaushal has been consciously involved with narrative-based filmmaking over the last three years. He shares, “The best environment to work is when the Director, DP and the entire team sync together to make the story shine.” He adds, “Shooting narrative is the most craft-intensive, challenging and rewarding work.” Although he works extensively with Alexa and Sony Venice, he says, “I prefer lenses that have texture. I always try and shoot on older lenses with imperfections since they breath more life into the image. With increasing sensitivity and better colour rendition, the new cameras challenge and push to experiment and innovate.” Kaushal has recently worked on Netflix’s Jamtara, the as-yet-released Amazon Original Mumbai Diaries 26/11 with Nikhil Advani, and the Sci-Fi film titled Cargo (directed by Arati Kadav) which is currently making the rounds on the Festival circuit.
Brought up in Kolkata and based in Mumbai, Aditya Kapur has worked on music videos, commercials and documentaries. The DOP behind the Parekh and Singh music video “I love you baby,” is a rising star having recently shot for the as-yet-unreleased large-formatted Netflix show Masaba Masaba on fashion designer Masaba Gupta. He reveals, “I prefer shooting in any environment that I’ve planned for. But, sometimes the environment surprises you, no matter how much you plan. “My go-to cameras is either the Sony Venice or the Arri Alexa Mini LF. I switch between them depending on the demands of the shoot day. With regards to my lens choices, the Arri Master Anamorphic has been my favourite all-rounder, although I like to test different lenses.”
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