Through The Lens

After a decade of working as a still photographer, Ritam Banerjee turns to cinematography with award-winning results

Written by Debesh Banerjee | Published: November 12, 2013 5:18:32 am

After working across categories such as interiors,portraits,advertising,food,fashion and automobiles,for a decade,Mumbai-based still photographer Ritam Banerjee decided to try his hands at moving images. No cinematographer could have asked for a better debut. Banerjee’s film Sandcastle impressed the audience at Tenerife International Film Festival,London,and won him the Best Cinematography Award.

Directed by independent filmmaker Shomshuklla,Sandcastle revolves around an aspiring writer in search of creating her own identity,despite having a husband who is an advertising honcho. The film also went on to grab four nominations for Best Language Feature,Best Supporting Actor Male and Best Actor Female and a nomination for Best Foreign Feature at the London International Film Festival. In this interview,Banerjee talks about his work as a cinematographer:

What convinced you about this project?

It was Sandcastle’s director Shomshuklla Das,and technical director Abraham Cherian. Despite knowing well that I had never worked in motion pictures,they made the offer and this was quite encouraging for me. Moreover,cinema always excited me. So I took it up not only as an opportunity to explore the medium but to also try and do justice to the faith the directors invested in me.

What approach did you adopt towards the project?

Since,it was a dialogue-heavy film,I didn’t want the frames to be too tight. But,in certain locations,space was a limitation,so it did pose some challenges at times in terms of framing. My preference for minimalism and simplicity came in handy in ‘creating room’ within the film. I kept the frames,lights and angles simple,as I didn’t feel any need to be adventurous to the point of being over-creative. I approached the film no differently from any other project. After doing a bit of homework before the shoot,I just followed my instinct.

How different is working on a film compared to being a still photographer?

Motion picture is nothing but an extension of still images. For me,it is a series of still images that narrates a story mostly with sound. I just added to and used

my existing knowledge of visual media.

Who inspires you in the world of cinematography?

Though I have been working as a photographer for over a decade,in the world of cinematography,I am a novice. Having said that,I have been an ardent admirer of Subrata Mitra,Ashok Mehta,Santosh Sivan,Binod Pradhan and Anil Mehta,among several others.

Do you have any more cinematography assignments lined up?

After a fortnight in Australia,I have been back on the road. A photography assignment has taken me to Latin America and a bit of Europe for the last one month. Once I am back in India,I have a few still shoots lined up. But few cinematography offers have also come my way and am hoping to explore and enjoy both forms.

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