Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Raavan happened by accident : Sivan

Ace cameraman Santosh Sivan, in an exclusive to TOI, opens up on Raavanan, his sixth film with Mani Ratnam...

You are working with your favourite director Mani Ratnam in Raavanan after 12 long years...

Well, it’s true. It has been a long time. I’m working with him after Iruvar (1997) and Dil Se (1998), both of which coincidentally fetched me national awards. It’s always fun to work again with directors with whom you have worked with for long. Also, I do not do many films. So, comparatively, I have done more films with Mani. Also, I have to point out that Raavanan is my sixth film with Mani, my fifth with him being Raavan.

The bond you share with Mani Ratnam is strong and considered to be one of the most enduring relationships between a director and his cameraman...
We have worked in six films — Thalapathy (1991), Roja (1992), Iruvar (1997), Dil Se (1998) and now Raavan and Raavanan (2010). Ravaan happened quite by accident. As the original cinematographer had to leave the project and as Mani had already started filming for it, he sought my help. It took me just five seconds to say ‘yes’, as I knew I could help him finish some of the most difficult sequences in Indian cinema.

Some of the finest cinematographers in Indian cinema like PC Sreeram, Rajiv Menon and Ravi K Chandran have all become brands after working with Mani Ratnam. Every cinematographer’s dream is to work with the ace director. Why?

A cameraman can hone his skills just by working with him. Actually, Mani is someone whose films are difficult to shoot. That’s because most of his films are shot outdoor. The locales, weather and sequences are quite extreme. So, you don’t have too much of studio support. Often, the sequences are dealt with in a passionate way and are quite organic and threaten to change every minute.

Your take on Aishwarya Rai, as you were the first cinematographer to make her look stunning on screen...

Oh yes, Ash is the heart of the film and she had a very difficult role to play. It was quite interesting the way she handled both the versions. She is superb and is the pivot around which both films revolve.

Tell us about the innovative shots that both of you have composed in Raavanan...
Like I said before, Raavan and Raavanan were among the most difficult films to shoot, as they were two different films with different actors. I think the fight on the bridge is quite an interesting one. That’s because, it is for real and has not been created using computer graphics. The climax fight, that takes place between Abhishek and Vikram in Raavan and Vikram and Prithviraj in Raavanan, on a wooden bridge actually required three different bridges to be built so that the scene could be captured from different angles. Sometimes, I think being a cinematographer for some films makes you discover very interesting hidden locations that are at its furious best. We even had a raincloud envelope us as we were filming atop the hills.

How will you compare Abhishek’s performance with that of Vikram in the Tamil version?
Both have their strengths, and I think both have played it differently. Likewise with Vikram and Prithviraj. Then, there is also support from Prabhu sir, Karthik, Govinda, and others.

As a cinematographer, what do you think are the highlights of the film?

I think the film’s highlights are the actors and the different perspectives that Mani Ratnam has on the mythological Raavan character.

Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Entertainment/Regional/News-Interviews/Ravaan-happened-by-accident-Sivan/articleshow/6024285.cms

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