Thursday, November 22, 2012

Light, Camera and Action


Don’t get carried away by the title, here by shot I mean a series of frames  (of camera) that runs for an uninterrupted period of time. I imagine everything in terms of shot and scene. I visualise every small things in and around me right from image, light, beauty, emotions to landscape in terms of shots. But at this juncture of life I have no real association with lights, camera and action (other than my still camera). Not that I have always been associated with it. But I have always been in and around it. And I did not realise when and why life took these things away from me. There is definitely a huge dissatisfaction that I have deep in my heart.

Today, if I sit back and think then I realise what I really miss. I have always been fond of reading and the possibility of imagining my own character began from there. I used to (even now) imagine each and every story book I read in terms of visuals. Ever since the time I started reading books, either it be simple Nandan (A Hindi story for kids), the fairy tale (which I used to adore), Enid Blyton’s stories, Nancy Drew’s stories or the first novel Oliver Twist which I read as a part of school project, I have always been fascinated towards stories and the characters. And sometimes when I used to read those silly teenage romantic books, I used to imagine which Bollywood actor and actress will justify the character the most. My visualisation started there and today I am just stuck with my own little dreams and imagination, without any way to substantiate those characters into the reel world.

Technically my association with light and camera began when I was in graduation and we were sent to learn camera from a well-known centre.  That time I didn’t take those classes very seriously as I never knew one day I am going to miss it. Anyhow the memories of those classes are very vivid in my mind even today. Those winter mornings, bright sun light, carefree life with friends, Frank Sir’s class, everything about the class. I still remember the camera teachers did not let us take shots other than few static shots, no pan and tilt shot. One day one of the teachers let me take a pan shot inside the studio while shooting an interview and after that I kept on boosting about that shot to all my friends and sisters. I must admit that shot had terrible shake and editor did not used it in final programme.

There are two in fact 5 major events in my life or stage that 
made shots a part of my existence

1.       Documentary- I won’t say it was my first documentary, as it was our first documentary. As a part of our final project we had to make documentary. At that time we just knew documentary means we need real sufferers, victims taking about the rejection they felt in society (we had no idea of docudrama). We choose a great topic and that was HIV AIDs. At that time taking a topic like that and that too in a small city like Patna was definitely not a piece of cake. We hired camera person to shoot the film. Anyhow after the shoot with lots of hard work and difficulty when we sat on edit table we realise all the shots had shake, the zoom-in, zoom-out, pan and tilt was done so fast that we could not select which shot to take as it were equally bad. We were hardly left with time to re-shoot, so did the editing with whatever best was possible at that time. Our documentary’s name was- Darkness to Light. That was my first real shaking up event and then I realised that we should have done camera ourselves rather than trusting an outsider. A big eye opening, in fact it was a huge encouragement to learn camera.

2.       MCRC- Getting through Mass Communication of Jamia Millia Islamia was a definitely dream comes true. When I gave my entrance exams, I came back home quite paranoid and told my mummy I won’t be able to make it as there are just too many contenders. But I got through it. Anyways all the madness of camera, shot, visualization, characters came from there. The whole experience of creating our own characters, story was simply amazing. To present the story/ idea for the projects, to support the idea, to argue for the story from the teachers, to convince the teachers that this topic is worth making documentary/ project was something I miss terribly today. But that was the time when I actually got completely involved in lights, camera and action. Here I got to use film camera for the first and time. Analysing the shots, thinking about the background score, music and characterization was something that I learnt from here. In fact all my enthusiasm for camera and its components inculcated mainly from here.

3.       Basera-  I got my first job in a daily soap Basera(serial) as Assistant Creative Director in Mumbai. Working there was a huge exposure. Not because it was glamorous but simply because of the fact that I learnt a lot. We used to work for long hours, but every day there was a new enthusiasm. The major lesson I learnt from there is the lighting and continuity (the soul of television production)

4.       ANI- My second job was at a news agency in Delhi. The ambience was completely opposite of my Mumbai’s job. The pace was much more slower and easy. I had to sit at one place and work and it was a weekly programme so my work was much more at ease. But just after 2 months of my joining my Producer resigned and I was given all the responsibilities of the programme. I got to know about shoot, I used to fight for my ideas, for my stories. I loved working there, probably that was the best work I have ever done as I really enjoyed doing it. I was deeply involved with my programme and learned everything that goes in making a programme. Right from lining up a personality for interview, coordinating with outstation reporters, selecting stories, fighting for ideas, writing, editing, sequencing, use of graphics, getting anchor done and most importantly handling different type of people. But I must say it was something I really enjoyed and going to cherish all my life.  

Today my only association with lights, camera and action is the visualisation and imagination that I do within my own mind. This is called the vicious circle of life that today I stand at the same position where I started. But today I lack one thing the dream, the enthusiasm that one day I will be there.

There are two major encouragements because of which I felt the void even more vivid. And I started writing this post. Two things that I have never left completely are- watching films and clicking photographs. I saw Gangs of Waseeypur recently and the shots, characterization simply rekindled my love towards this field. The acting, the lighting, the shots, the story, the film has everything that makes a film great.    

Whenever I go to watch a film, whoever sits beside me knows that I am going to say something about the cinematography, sometimes my friends (not from the field) mocks at me and says- Ho gai shuru Maryam! I believe my association with lights, camera and action is something I will cherish my whole life, either I will be in and around it or not. I will always be associated with it.