Deep Focus

Deep Focus

A documentary film,to be screened at IFFI,puts the spotlight on cinematographer V Babasaheb.

Almost every Indian,who is raised on a wholesome diet of Bollywood films is familiar with the scene from the film,Seema,where a young Nutan,with long,wild hair is locked in a room. When she hears the song Tu pyaar ka saagar hai,she becomes impatient and paces around,finally resting her head on the rough,cemented wall,looking the picture of rebellion mingled with regret. This moving scene,from the iconic film was shot by the then relatively unknown cinematographer,V Babasaheb. Now,over 50 years later,the audience will get to know the man behind the camera,at the Indian Panorama section of the 44th International Film Festival of India (IFFI),to be held from November 20-30 in Goa.

It was in the mid-’70s,when a young Bharat Kanhere went to work as a camera assistant on the sets of the film Aakraman. It was a new experience for Kanhere,who was a faculty member at the Film and Television Institute of India,Pune. “The mind-boggling world of movies was made warm and home-like to me by the film’s cinematographer,V Babasaheb,who was kind and attentive to us youngsters,” says Kanhere.

All these years later,Kanhere has produced a documentary film,titled V Babasaheb — Life in Full Open,on the life of the legendary cinematographer. In his late 90s now,Babasaheb has worked as a cameraperson,cinematographer or director of photography for Ganga Jumna,Leader,Aan Milo Sajna and Aap Ki Kasam,among others.

Directed by National Award-winning screenplay writer Avinash Deshpande,V Babasaheb — Life in Full Open,traces the journey of the young boy,Vastad Babasaheb,who started his career with laying cables along the railway tracks. Originally from Miraz in Maharashtra,he landed at Prabhat Studio in Pune to talk to his distant relative,E Mohammed,a noted cinematographer of the ’30s and ’40s. Initally,he did odd jobs in studios. But in the ’50s,his films such as Kathputli,Badal and Daag made it big.

Deshpande said,“There are so many popular scenes in Hindi cinema,which are inspired by Babasaheb’s works. Take Sholay for example. There is a fight sequence,where Sanjeev Kumar,the cop,frees the crooks Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra,to chase robbers in a moving train. We found points of reference with Ganga Jumna,shot by Babasaheb.” Babasaheb quit the world of films in the late ’80s and has been living in his ancestral home with his son and daughter.