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Something about Santosh Sivan
Making movies for Santosh Sivan is like breathing. Camera and lenses were for this director what toys are for most children. "I am fortunate to have been born my father's son," he says, referring to the elder Sivan, a still photographer who went on to become a reputed director and cinematographer of Malayalam films.

The proud father recalls how he used to hide his cameras from 'little Santosh' who loved tampering with them. 'Often, I would discover the damage he had done only after the rolls were exposed,' he chuckles.

The exposure was not lost on Sivan. By the time he was in college, he was accompanying his father on his shoots and even made 'my own Super 8 film then'". The young commerce graduate stunned the panel of interviewers at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune when he waxed eloquent on the merits of a Mitchell vis-a-vis an Ariflex.

The cinematography course he was admitted to helped further hone his skills as a cameraman. Raakh, the first film he independently shot -- it was produced by his brother Sangeet and directed by Aditya Bhattacharya -- won him critical acclaim.

That passion has only grown. Says director Mani Ratnam, 'In an industry notorious for killing one's enthusiasm, it is surprising how it grows day by day in Santosh, he has been much more than a cameraman to me, he is an excellent team man.'

His images are stunning, lyrical and almost picture perfect. Anyone who has seen his work would say that there is something about Santosh Sivan.

No wonder directors want him behind their cameras, whether it is the established Mani Ratnam or debutant Karan Johar who got him to shoot the theme song of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in Scotland.

No wonder Terrorist, the film Sivan directed is headed for Robert Redford's prestigious Sundance Film Festival next month.

Sivan flits easily between the worlds of art and commercial cinema, the reason he seems to be the favourite camera eye for directors. "I love the artistic challenges of an art film and the extravaganza of a commercial film," he says. "Basically that is me, a bit of Zen and a bit of sin."

Director Priyadarshan says it is Sivan's ability to grasp the director's idea of a frame and give it a new dimension that makes him stand out as a cinematographer. And when the cinematographer turns director, the result is doubly effective.

Modesty, however, is not one of Sivan's many virtues. "I am in a situation where superstars are willing to make any adjustments to be able to work with me," he says as a measure of his own standing. Ashoka The Great, his fourth directorial venture, is in Hindi with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead. As with Dhanu, Sivan has been haunted by some aspects about the Mauryan emperor. How, for instance, the man changed. A compelling question. Not bad, for a combination of Zen and Sin. presents an interview with Santosh Sivan whose latest work behind the camera, Fiza, is all set for release. Along with scenes from Terrorist and Fiza.

Produced by SoundPicture Communications

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 Video interview
  On cinematography
  On Fiza
  On Ashoka The Great
  On Terrorist
  Hollywood vs Bollywood
Film Clips
  The trailer of Fiza
  A scene from Terrorist
Read the interview