National award-winning cinematographer Tirru, the man behind the stunning visuals of 'Hey Ram', 'Aalavandhan' and 'Kanchivaram', in an interview to us, talks about his latest release 'Mercury', and wonders whether awards really count in the Indian cinema.
Cinematographer Tirru, the man behind the stunning visuals of Hey Ram, Aalavandhan and Kanchivaram, can easily dabble through any topic under the sun. In his 24-year career, he was nominated twice for the National award for Hey Ram and Kanchivaram before being third time lucky when he won the award for Suriya’s 24 last year.
“I remember watching the FDFS of Mani sir’s Kaatru Veliyidai when I received a call saying I had won the National Award for 24. I said ‘okay’ and continued watching the film. Only after I was bombarded with hundreds of calls, it hit me,” he smiles. He says that he continues to love the job the same way that he had been doing all these years.
“I have always had the responsibility to deliver a good product for the audience. If you ask me if that has increased after the National Award, I would say ‘no’. When it comes to Indian cinema, awards are mere showcase material. Award winners aren’t recognised or at least people shy away from expressing even after recognising them. It is strange, but we have to accept this truth,” he smiles.
His latest film, Mercury didn’t do well in the north but was praised by the audience and critics in the south. “That is exactly what I was about to say. In the north, people do not go much into the technical aspects of the film like us. If you notice B’wood, most of the technicians are from the south. A newspaper in the US, recently had written about the visuals of Mercury and had mentioned that the cinematographer hasn’t played with the dark for a horror film and has succeeded. I was glad that they had written what was unconventional about the cinematography in Mercury,” he explains.
Talking about working in a ‘silent film’, he says, “When Karthik Subbaraj explained to me about the characters, I asked him if the film would have any sound in it. Only then he told me it was a silent film. So I worked on a few colour tones as well.”
Prod him if Indian cinema has evolved or if there are producers to work on a big budget to enhance the output level to Hollywood standards, he says, “It is the chicken and the egg theory. You could never answer that question. Look at how an English film like Avengers is having a successful run in India. There are no tickets available in any of the cities for the next few days. This means our audiences are waiting to encourage good content with quality outputs. Indian cinema has good technicians, who can make such films. But we won’t. In future, corporates may take over Indian cinema, rip the content and outsource it to American filmmakers. Technicians will end up becoming mere labourers. The government and people must understand that cinema is a profession like a doctor’s or engineer’s and give us an equal status and rights. They must understand that the industry isn’t a disaster for people entering to it.”
Talking about his upcoming projects, he says, “I have signed one Bollywood project and I am in talks for a Tamil film. The announcement will be out soon.”