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Special: The BEST Shot Films In Indian Cinema

Last updated on: July 17, 2013 18:48 IST

The BEST Shot Films In Indian Cinema

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

The fact that cinematographer Kiran Deohans is selective about his work is reflected in the movies he has been part of -- Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Aks, Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham, Jodhaa Akbar and Agneepath.

He is now giving the final touches to his upcoming film, Ramaiya Vastavaiya, starring debutant Girish Kumar and Shruti Haasan. The film, which has been directed by Prabhu Deva, is set to release on July 19.

Deohans, who is known for his eye for detail, shares his list of the Best Shot Movies in Indian cinema.

Continuing our series celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema.

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenege
Direction: Aditya Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal
Cinematography: Manmohan Singh

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenege is a very beautiful and good-looking film. It was very fresh and completely different from the way films were being shot at that time.

It was full of vibrant colours, yet avoided being in-your-face. The locations, sets, production design and costumes were so beautiful.

So many sequences in the film, like the train sequence, have been copied again and again.

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Image: Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge


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Mughal-e-Azam

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Direction: K Asif
Cast: Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Prithviraj Kapoor
Cinematography: R D Mathur

Mughal-e-Azam is the Godfather of Indian cinema.

The sheer canvas of the film sends shivers down the spine of any DOP (Director of Photography) even today. Just imagine shooting it back in 1951!

The script was very strong and was backed by some of the finest actors of the time. The dialogues were amazing. The flow of the film is beautiful. That's why, when you watch it for the first time, you will not notice the details of photography.

Not many people know that a DOP needs to be aware of the lighting. Mughal-e-Azam had the best lighting.

The film took 10 years to complete. At that time, the equipment available wasn't very advanced yet the kind of visuals that R D Mathur created are stunning. Shooting with 300-400 people in one scene, the huge palaces... it's a big task, which was beautifully handled.

There's a particular scene when Anarkali meets Salim at midnight. She is lying in his arms and Salim strokes her cheeks with a feather. This scene is the epitome of romantic visuals in Indian cinema.

When I was shooting for Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodhaa Akbar, I was subconsciously influenced by Mughal-e-Azam.

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Image: Dilip Kumar and Madhubala in Mughal-e-Azam


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Kagaz Ke Phool

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Direction: Guru Dutt
Cast: Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman
Cinematography: V K Murthy

As a student of photography, the one film that really excited me during my FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) days, and still does, is Kagaz Ke Phool.

I don't think any other film has even come close to it when it comes to photography. This is a classic. The approach to photography, filmmaking and visual arts through lighting was just marvellous despite the limitations of the time.

The basic plot of the film is depressing, but it was visually appealing. V K Murthy's cinematography played an integral part of bringing Kagaz Ke Phool to life.

The most talked about part of the film is the picturisation of the song, Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Hasseen Sitam. Waheeda Rehman looks like a goddess in it.

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Image: Waheeda Rehman and Guru Dutt in Kagaz Ke Phool


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Pather Panchali

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Direction: Satyajit Ray
Cast: Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Uma Dasgupta, Subir Banerjee
Cinematography: Subrata Mitra

What amazes me about Pather Panchali is that it was Satyajit Ray's first film as director and Subrata's first film as DOP but, even today, it doesn't look like their first film.

It is a black-and-white film set in a village. Each and every frame is a masterstroke.

When I first saw the film, it felt like a lot of paintings coming together.

It's one of the finest looking films in India. A lot of credit goes to Subrata, as the film was shot on a shoestring budget.

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Image: Uma Das Gupta in Pather Panchal


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Parinda

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Direction: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Cast: Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Madhuri Dixit
Cinematography: Binod Pradhan

I had already shot my first feature film, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, when I saw Parinda. I had left the industry by then, as I was not happy with the way cinematographers were treated. I was busy working the field of advertising.

Binod Pradhan was my senior in FTII. He invited me to watch the film's trial show. My wife, Aban, accompanied me. And that film blew us.

I thought it opened a new chapter in the world of photography. The film's look and visual styling was amazing.

Even today, Parinda doesn't look dated. Sequences like the close-up of the loading and assembling of a gun, and the climax, are so aesthetically done. 

The standout scene remains the one where Anupam Kher gets killed in the kabutar khana (corner where pigeons gather). That scene is a cinematographer's delight.

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Image: Anupam Kher and Anil Kapoor in Parinda


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Guide

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Direction: Vijay Anand
Cast: Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman
Cinematography: Fali Mistry

Guide is another landmark film in Indian cinema. Vijay Anand's vision was so beautifully shot.

At the time, colour films was very new to the Indian film industry. Fali Mistry has done a splendid job; the colours were beautifully used. 

The grand production values, rich detailing and incisive screenplay are evident when you watch Guide.

Vijay Anand had a very unique style of filmmaking. When you watch his films, you will not see many cuts. His camera moves in sync with the characters. It puts extra pressure on the DOP.

Guide remains a masterpiece, a story brilliantly told through images.

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Image: Dev Anand in Guide


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36 Chowringee Lane

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Direction: Aparna Sen
Cast: Jennifer Kendel, Debashree Roy, Dhritiman Chatterjee
Cinematography: Ashok Mehta

I was studying in FTII when we were invited to the screening of 36 Chowringee Lane.

We didn't know Ashok Mehta then, as this was one of his early works. It was this film that brought him to the limelight. 

As students, we had studied and seen the works of international DOPs like Ingrid Bergman and Nick Fiz, and we always wondered why Indian films weren't so visually appealing.

When my batchmates and I saw 36 Chowringee Lane, we were thrilled we finally had an Indian DOP who shot films just as well as international DOP.

The whole movie is like a painting. I had never been to Kolkata but, when I saw the film, I felt I had visited the place and was familiar with it.

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Image: Jennifer Kendel, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Debashree Roy in 36 Chowringee Lane


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Jaagte Raho

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Direction: Shobu Mitra
Cast: Raj Kapoor, Nargis Dutt, Daisy Irani
Cinematography: Radhu Karmarkar

Jaagte Raho is starkly different from other Raj Kapoor movies. It is very underrated, but brilliantly visualised. The entire film was set in one premise and the camerawork is excellent.

When the song Jaago Mohan Pyaare starts, you can actually feel the difference in the film's texture. This, despite the fact that Jaagte Raho was shot in black-and-white.

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Image: Raj Kapoor in Jaagte Raho


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Charulata

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Direction: Satayjit Ray
Cast: Soumitra Chaterjee, Madhbai Mukherjee, Dilip Bose
Cinematography: Subrata Mitra

Charulata is another outstanding movie by Satyajit Ray and Subrata Mitra. It was shot in a studio and special sets were erected for it. It was probably the first time that soft lights were used in a film and it was done so well.

There's an incident that was narrated to me by Subrata's friend. After the premiere of Charulata, Subrata's mother praised Satyajit Ray's work and said that Bansi Chandragupta (who was the film's art director) had created a beautiful set. 

When Subrata asked about his work, his mother asked him what he had done. 'The set looks real because of the way I lit it up and shot it,'  he replied.


Image: Soumitra Chaterjee in Charulata

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