Cinematographer Sanu Verghese: ‘You need to respect the craft’ – The Hindu


In the last 20 years, cinematographers from the south have dominated Bollywood. Sanu Verghese, a skilled craftsman who was in the news recently for Badhaai Ho, is among them. We will see more of his work post Jersey, Sanu’s first straight Telugu film. He says, “I do commercial films and for me any story told in an engaging way is commercial. I worked on Take Off, a Malayalam story about a woman stuck in Iran; it had no fights or songs. It worked commercially in the theatres. Badhaai Ho is not a regular Hindi film either.”

Sanu never consciously worked towards creating a brand for himself, be it in advertising or feature films; instead he focused on getting a better grip on the craft. To him cinematography is just one tool for storytelling. He elaborates, “In some places if my work is visible, it is not good for the story. Jersey is a story told in a book by someone. The camera tells it, in a way it reveals to you. If I do one kind of a film, the next has to be in a different genre. I do a lot of commercial advertisements that give me monetary freedom, so I am not compelled to do every film offered to me. Your craft is something you need to respect. All forms of projects have their own challenges, nothing is small. Chance is it works, and that should be the aim — to make it work.”

Cinematographer Sanu Verghese on the sets

Cinematographer Sanu Verghese on the sets
 
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The cinematographer agrees that there is a proliferation of newcomers in cinema at all levels and feels that is healthy. By the time it settles, he says there will be a lot of talent emerging. Nine of the 15 films he worked in were with first-time directors and he found freshness in their unlearned approach whereas the others had a different vision. He shares, “In Jersey, director Gowtham Tinnanuri looked at things in a certain way which is much more interesting than those who have done 10 films. These new directors end up doing lot of interesting stuff. I do come up with things but it’s broadly in line with the director’s vision.”

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On working with a limited budget, Sanu says that any director who has achieved a certain level of craft, knows things can be done without spending too much money. There are a lot of solutions in cinema and if one understands the story well, it is possible to find effective cinematic solutions.

Sharing his thoughts on working with people who don’t come with bound scripts, he says, “I need to see the script and react. With Kamal Hassan, it changed over a period of time, but these are technicians who can let it go and pull it back. All my collaborations have been extremely fruitful and I am at a place where I am gradually gaining confidence with every one of them.”

On giving a visual identity to Jersey, Sanu says, “It had to be told in a sensual way and we are trying to make it engaging and there’s never a dull moment. We had to make Nani look like a real cricketer, matches had to seem real. The Color of Money has been my inspiration in the way it has been shot. Here, Nani will come through as a fantastic cricketer. If he doesnt, the story wouldn’t be convincing.”

Post Jersey, Sanu will be directing a Malayalam film. He signs off, “It is a complete commercial cinema. I believe in making only such movies. Otherwise, I should be writing books.”



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