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Saturday, 24 January 2015

The HIndie Awards 2015: Technical Awards

The HIndie Awards


The technical field in Bollywood has always been superb. This past year the Hindi film scene saw quite a few masters of the game return to give us some stunning visuals, wonderful costumes, premier editing and much more. 

I'm still learning a lot about the technical aspects of film making, so forgive me if this is the least informative part of the awards. 

So here are the awards. 

HIndie Award for Best Editing

Sreekar Prasad (Indian Version) and Nick Moore (English Version) for Finding Fanny

The first thing to note about Finding Fanny is that it's quite short, the editing is a perfect match for both the Hindi and English versions. There's no feeling that the film has wasted points and each scene flows perfectly with the next.

The other thing is that the editing works in tandem with the narrative, in the sense there are some really great shots that exemplify the shift in time. There's no chewed out points in the performances, and we're steered clear from having to find out everything thoroughly about these characters.

It backs the directors vision to show, don't tell. 

HIndie Award for Best Costume Design

Anaita Shroff Adajania for Finding Fanny

If your going to make a film that feels magnificently like a Wes Anderson movie, well then it's bound to need some great costumes. Anaita Shroff Adajania's work is fantastic, it touches upon the color palette and breezy camerawork of the film.

There are bright colors, but also muted tones. This gives that pastel feel while still being realistic.

Her work gives that earthy yet spirited essence to Angie through her skirts and frocks. For Savio it hints deeper to his rustic attitude. It exemplifies the eccentric manner with which Pedro works. It accentuates the loudness of Rosy.

And it adds the simpleton touch that makes you ultimately like Freddie.

There's a quirkiness and there's an understanding the costumes vibrantly capture. 

HIndie Award for Best VFX

Marc D'Souza and Team for Jal

This is where Bollywood should learn from about the magic of crafting visual effects on screen. 

A short listed Oscar nominee, Jal might be tonally inconsistent but it is visually stunning. There's a visual grandeur that the effects produce, capturing the harsh yet stunning brilliance of the Kutch Rann. 

It helps to add the necessary emotions to earlier conflicts and latter dramatics. The final scene of Purab Kohli's character walking into the sandstorm is eye popping. 

If only mainstream Hindi film makers could spend this kind of money or be smart with it to make such gorgeous visuals. It's sad that even in this money requiring department, that an Independent film is beating the bigger leagues. 

HIndie Award for Best Production Design

Subrata Chakraborthy and Amit Ray for Dedh Ishqiya 

The breathtaking beauty of Dedh Ishqiya comes from the lavish sets and localities the film is shot in. All credit must go to the duo of Subrata and Ray for really capturing the essence of the old world of shayari's and thumri's. 

It adds a wondrous layer to the proceedings for Khalu and Babban, who get to see this stunning world that feels like its own place. It's the eye popping visuals that help provide the contrast in sub text of how dark, grimy and lonely this place is as the world our protagonists come from and live in. 

Breathtaking, Lavish, Wondrous, Stunning and Eye Popping. I assure you these are not words I use lightly. The visual poetry is right there for the viewer to see. Just like a Madhuri Dixit dance. 

HIndie Award for Best Cinematography

The cinematography categories a little bigger with seven top class nominees from varying genres, peering into varying worlds. So let's get on with it. 


Anil Mehta for Finding Fanny

In a road trip film, it's naturally the journey that matters not the destination. This couldn't be more true than the wizardry Mehta pulls with the camera in this cinematic delight.

Yet it's not only the beauty of this nestled world he capture through Goa, that works. He pulls out some stirring lighting that elevates the emotions of the actors performances, it gives the characters the necessary touch to really pull the audience in.

There's so much detail he captures in the lens, an importance in the frames that tells the viewer another story about these characters and the world they embody themselves.

The kind of work Anil Mehta does is despite some great cinematography, unseen in Hindi cinema. It adds the flavor and sensation that can keep the audience engaged to the screen and the magic he pulls.

K U Mohanan for Miss Lovely

Truer words could not be said than those, that Mohanan is the story teller of this melancholic period piece nightmare on the B-Movie industry. 

His camera, lighting, textures and colors create a world of their own and allow for the true dread, grime and menace of the characters, story and narrative within it shine. 

He brings a sense of claustrophobia to the scenes depicted. It's an age old Indie film tactic that allows to highlight the production in accurate period aesthetic without a big budget. Yet it works because it makes the audience feel the suffocation that Sonu has with a world considered beneath everything. 

The lighting is aptly moody and reflects back the emotions of pleasure, pain and suffering of it's characters. The color palette being otherworldly and at times like a dank nightmare. The textures giving the mood drear and despair, gripping the audience in the slow moving drama. 

And above all the camera work titillating in its motion, but voyeroustic in what it captures and tells of the world inhabited by its characters and the society that consumes and demeans it at large.

The last shot exemplifies everything about Sonu, his idealism, his struggle and his journey. As we see Pinky, shimmering and dancing through Sonu's eyes. The camera tells its story, she is his Miss Lovely.   

Dev Agarwal for Citylights

Capturing both the alluring bright lights and the disturbing darkness that Mumbai embodies is not an easy task. Many directors and cinematographers have accomplished this feat in their films. 

Whether it be the chilling Shakespearean atmosphere in Maqbool or the noir-ish gritty tones of Satya.

In Citylights, Agarwal brings a visual flourish that is his own but still perfectly embodies what Mumbai is all about. 

The lights in Citylights are enticing and provide reason to the appeal it has on small folk Deepak and Rakhee. The City, then would be the idea of how different a world our characters are stepping into. 

It all ties into how Mumbai being such a marvel to look at, can turn into an entity that swallows everything whole. The natural and textured lighting captures this well, the lens having us bathe in the beauty and the treachery that lies within this concrete prison. 

Hansal Mehta once again gains a profoundly effective ally in Agarwal who understands the moods that need the audience to be moved by the narrative. It's a big win for the film and for Hindi cinema that he has brought to light that talents of Dev Agarwal, in Citylights. 


Setu for Dedh Ishqiya

Natural lighting is what provides the breath into the life of the world this bombastic sequel is based in. Amidst the glorious old world hides a darkness the protagonists are all to familiar with. 

The black humor, the obscure references, the poets and their poetry and the performers and their trickery all bow below the power of the camera in Dedh Ishqiya. 

Setu is in fine form as he preens through the old age soothing mahals and the contrasting new age grimy streets. It's so stirring that as the viewer we can feel the jewellery at show, the stunning clothes and the dust on old files and soft light of the lamps. 

He trades in the rustic browns for antique ones and the palette makes the film come alive. The glow of the textures from the camera, make key moments into memories. 

That's why Setu isn't a cinematographer, but like the old term says; he is a magician. 

Pankaj Kumar for Haider

There's something eerie about how Haider is shot. The camera like any other is able to capture the stunning beauty that makes Kashmir the heaven of our world. Yet it also takes us deeper into the blood strewn state. Mining the horrors that Bhardwaj wishes to reflect back onto the world.

Kashmir was once a thing of fantasy, thrown into chaos and turned into a monstrous seductive nightmare it is brought to life by the camera. The white covered valleys bathing in deep red blood.

In the interiors the camera tells a whole other story of betrayal, revenge and love. Kumar's efforts allow the lights to reflect onto the eyes of the characters; hiding secrets, protecting innocence, presenting vulnerability and declaring rage. In the interiors there's a rich calm captured by that natural light and the meticulously crafted moods, simmering under is a whole host of darker emotions that Kumar's work is careful to reveal in layers. 

The mastery with which he handles the photography is awe inspiring. It makes Haider a piece of art, that will be well worth a look at decades gone by, when it will be more than just a film. 

When it will be a masterpiece.

Nikos Andritsakis for Ugly

The undercurrent tension and darkness that the film relies on is held in the palms or should I say the profoundly effective lens of Andritsakis. 

His nomination was a foregone conclusion, considering it's his fascinatingly revealing work in Shanghai that made me notice the power of the camera in films. 

But it's not the only reason is here. His luminous work of blue hues and stark blacks clash with the simplistic shots of the faces of characters we think we know. There's a lot hidden about the men and women that the title deems Ugly, that Andristakis siphons out with his moody lighting and vague textures. 

The sub text is plain to read but it's the motives hard to find that Nikos captures perfectly by peering into the actor's eyes and emotions. 

But above all Andritsakis drives the despairing message home with his final shot. A shot I don't want to spoil, but a shot whose impact will remain with you for days. It drives home a lot of unbearable questions and even more painful truths and answers. 

All thanks to how well composed this work of art is. Andristakis is a genius and this is another notch in his belt.


Anil Mehta for Highway

Just like Fanny, Highway is about the journey. Just like Fanny, Anil Mehta is at the helm of Highway's cinematography. Just like Fanny, Highway's camera work indulges in the stunning reality that is India. 

Unlike Fanny, the camera in Highway tells another story. 

Mehta has stated that in his 18 year career, this is his hardest work and it shows. 

Not only that, but it is his most glorious. The awe inducing world Highway captures are like stunning scenery artworks, the fact that their a reality is a whole other essay of praise. 

To shoot in the terrains the way they did, is already a top class nod to Mehta's work. Whether it be the opening montage of worlds Mahabirs truck visits or the nighttime escape Veera makes. 

Nothing looks out of place. Everything looks maddeningly gorgeous. 

It's however the slower moments where Mehta works his magic. He focuses his camera on the faces of his protagonists, revealing untold secrets and through the magic of the lighting and camera, peering into the depths of their soul. 

It's visual poetry in motion. 

And the Winner is...


K U Mohanan for Miss Lovely!

That's it for the technical awards, up next it's about the Music too jam to. 

Next: One of the worst rip-off of 2014 produces some of the best music, Classical feels becomes mesmerizing, two journeys bask in the brilliance of their melody, vengeance culminates in an electric finish and much more...HIndie Awards for Best Score and Soundtrack!

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia     


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