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Thursday, 19 January 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Cinematography [Indian Language]

Best Cinematography

[Indian Language]

The magic of cinema is alive.

Regardless of genre, or budget, the visual grandeur presented by Indian films this year has been rich.

Indeed, cinema is alive.

So let's just get onto this years extraordinary nominees...

Madhu Neelakantan for Kammatipaadam

You cannot have a Rajeev Ravi film that looks just good and Madhu Neelakantan lives up to both their reputations, with a film that very much captures two distinct looks for two time periods charting the evolution of Ernakulum.

Where one delves into a sunny but gritty village of the past, the other looks at a towering slick city with small corners filled with grime and big buildings throwing menacing shade.

The evolution of the setting is an important theme of Kammatipaadam and details the change in lives of characters with efficiency, thanks in most part to smart camera work.

The lingering framing on the toiling masses of lower caste people also enhances the sense of black beauty making distinct the difficulties faced.

S Ramalingam for Visaranai

There's a point in Visaranai where the tension is unbearable made all the more so by how the camera is navigated.

Our heroes have already faced the brunt of  torture in the village police station for a crime they didn't commit. They are thus saved by an Officer from the city, whom in a moment of emergency has them stay over and clean their slick station in the city. There our heroes find another criminal in a similar predicament to theirs, as the police discuss who to frame for some crime committed.

Noble and naive, our heroes decide to help these unfortunate petty criminals, knowing if they're caught they will be back in their painful former predicament.

Any normal film would have cut back between both scenes to relay the tension, yet here; navigating the small space, the camera simply moves around the station as our heroes work towards and debate doing the right thing while the heated argument between the officer and his colleague and senior goes on.

The camera work in this second half is absolutely frenzy, presenting a changed demeanor in our protagonists whom now pushed to the wall begin taking action as seen by the uninterrupted shot taking.

This is in beautiful contrast the first half of the film, where the punishment is brutal and the punisher unflinching as is  the static camera. A film about the plight and situation of immigrants, the two coins highlight a shade to the victims of a system during and after the cycle of violence against them plays through.

PS: The swamp setting climax, uff can't get over the neon green lights and the mystic hue of the whole sequence, best shot scene of 2016 cinema

Sivakumar Vijayan for Iraivi

A neo noir with a very Indian center, just not a Mumbai one.

Iraivi is performed at both a slick criminal level with abhorrent shades of black [not grey] and a psychedelic plane on goddesses and mythical men.

So here the shades are dark and brooding even in sunlight, yet slick like a Tamilian film must be without feeling derivative or out of touch.

It is ironically then that the screen lights up during sequences of rain, the lighting and wider shots encompassing a sense of freedom dependent on if one chooses to get wet as Ponni does or confined and compact in a tight close up to signify the hesitance to do so as Yazhini.

They might not be central in plot or footage, but these two goddesses are central figures to the theme of this male perspective feminist film and eventually attain status of protagonists through the way the camera filters their moments of poignancy and reflects it into the easy action heavy shots of the men. 

Sudhakar Reddy Yakanti for Sairat

There's an intriguing element to the mainstream-caste juxtapose Sairat as a romantic film plays with. Initially acting as a tried and tested young romantic drama, of a poor in this case lower caste boy and a rich upper caste girl; Sairat's cinematography work is very light yet grandiose.

The soft focus touch is contrasted by the sweeping shots of the land amidst the intimacy of its protagonists in simpler two to three shot sequences. As soon as shit hits the fan, a fire engulfs them and one of the most profound points of the film is a shot of the lovers as silhouettes escaping across the fields as a fire roars around them.

This is when reality sets in, everything in love isn't hunky dory till the end, so we get handheld movements, grittier compositions that while odd hold no meaning apart from documenting Archie and Parshaya's at time deteriorating and at times happy marriage. Where the initial portions were classic Indian romance, the latter is Manjule's Fandry [on a tight budget but with purpose].

It all leads to the same soft focus applied towards the end, yet here this one is not of innocence of love but innocence shattered by violence. It's poetic as poetic; chaos can be.

Soumik Haldar for Cinemawala

The deep dichotomy behind Cinemawala is that off a generation gap in regards to cinema and its presentation.

So ever so often there's  a subtle difference between the way the worlds of an unrelenting Father and his stubborn Son are shown.

For the son this means scenes that depict an actual reality that cannot be questioned. There's nothing cinematic in the touches to how his plot is shot, in fact it mostly feels static except for a hollow vibrancy when he succeeds or does wrong [such as hide his mothers valuable bangals for himself]

In the case of the father; Pranabendu, life around him isn't still nor stagnant as he wants it to be, since of course the right time has long passed him by. The passion of his single screen theater oozes from the camera, the touch of dust across the room, the glisten of alcohol and most important the shine and rust of the old projector comes to life not just for him and his man-servant but the audience as well. When the flames crackle at the end, the very same smoke seems to rise from screen.

The camera becomes non existent at a point and the magic begins, after all is that not cinema; isn't it what we long for now, isn't it what we lost long ago.

And the Winner is...

S Ramalingam for Visaranai!!!

As I've maintained about the Indian language awards, it has become an impossible task as I write for these great films to adjudge which one deserves the award. They are all just so fantastic. 

Anywho, up next...

Up Next: It is the Indian Language actor awards, whether supporting or leading; this one goes according to rankings of best to not so best award winner...thanks!

'Nuff Said,

Aneesh Raikundalia

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