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Five Life Lessons from the Mausams set – The Cinematographer’s Note

Five Life Lessons from the Mausams set – The Cinematographer’s Note

Now that this madly ambitious project has wrapped up shoot, our cinematographer RamC, who is now doing his 4th year at the NUS School of Computing, shares his Mausams experience (voluntarily, no pressure from anyone to churn this one out!). At 21, RamC is the youngest of the team, yet he is the most indispensable, bringing his skills with his camera and his cultivated eye for detail to the table. Here’s RamC, offering every film maker hopeful, a little bit of the gyan he has garnered at Mausams.

Looking through the Lens

By Ramchander Krishna

Mausams is no ordinary film. For the first time in the history of world cinema, a film has people from Singapore, India, Switzerland and UAE working together on the project for well over 6 months, that too within pretty much no budget.

As the cinematographer for a film of such magnitude, I must say it was pretty challenging. I say “challenging” mainly because it’s a Shilpa Krishnan film.I tell you, it’s not easy getting a “Nice!” or “Hmmm… I like that…” from her. There were several moments during the shoot, when at the end of a shot, I would exclaim, “Wow! Excellent acting!” but the director would calmly request, “Umm… Once more?”

And the actors would go ahead, praying inwardly that they hit the right expressions the next time around. I must say, I was overwhelmed by the dedication of the artists. I mean, the kind of ideas they came up with, for the spoof of Mausams, were completely ingenious. (For those of you interested, the spoof was shot simultaneously and is scheduled to be released as a separate film in competition with the original Mausams) But, shooting the spoof had to be done stealthily, like while the director’s back is turned away, we sneak in a couple of shots here and there. And I must say, the actors were really co-operative with that.

Usually, there are some responsibilities that come along with the job of a cinematographer – ensuring continuity, checking lighting, white balancing, adjusting the damn tripod etc. In Mausams, however, my foremost responsibility was to ensure that bulging tummies and fat faces do not appear anywhere in the film. Not that any of the actors had such tummies, just that the camera can sometimes twist the reality, you know. So someone needs to keep a check. In fact, I vividly remember holding up the tripod several feet above the ground in order to overcome the prominence of a particular actor’s posterior.

Such incidents teach you lessons in your craft that would be handy for the future. And honestly speaking, the shooting of Mausams has made me look at things in a completely different light. I’ve learnt several valuable life lessons.

Lesson One – it’s always good to be the youngest in a group. Why? You get pampered all the way and no one takes you seriously on anything.

Lesson Two – Do what the director says. If the director says, “Let’s have a close-up”, set the frame for the close-up, step back and put your finger on your lips. If the director says, “Go give him the camera”, give him only the camera and not the tripod.

Lesson Three – People stare at the camera and you can do absolutely nothing about it. I think this was the single biggest problem Mausams faced other than budget constraints, of course. In fact, there are certain passers-by, whom I suspect to have had more screen time than some of the main characters of Mausams.

Lesson Four – It’s good for women to have husbands. Seriously, some of the married men associated with this project, have phenomenal amounts of patience stored inside them. Hats off!

Lesson Five – the most important lesson – If camerawork does not help in the long run, turn to acting. In fact, the director was so pleased with the cameraman’s acting prowess that he’s the only one playing a dual role in the film. (Now that should get the fans to start their guessing-game on the plotline!)

Anyways, the shooting of Mausams is officially wrapped up now. And it can be said with confidence that there are portions of Mausams that would blow your breath away. Be it the charisma of the stars, their phenomenal acting in emotionally-charged scenes, the beauty of the landscape or the brilliance of the cameraman in bringing it all out on celluloid – Mausams would be an engaging, visual treat!

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