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'Shooting for Shankar's Boys was like going back in time'

Shobha Warrier | August 27, 2003 15:36 IST

A still from Shankar's BoysDirector Shankar's Tamil film Boys releases on August 29. The film, like most of the director's projects, is eagerly awaited.

A strong feature of Shankar's films is their technical finesse. The director is also known to spare no costs to ensure topnotch production values in his films.

Ravi K Chandran, cinematographer for Boys, tells Shobha Warrier the unit tried every trick in the trade while shooting for Boys:

Shooting for Shankar's Boys was like going back in time. We relived our experiences as teenagers, the mischief we did and the struggles we went through.

Like the hero in Boys, I ran away from home to get married. My wife was still studying and we had no money then. We struggled to come up in life. So I could relate to the film.

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Even Sabu Cyril, the film's art director, had eloped to get married.

We have tried every trick of the trade to make the film look as young and as contemporary as the boys in Boys. Though we had Arjun Bhasin, the costume designer of Dil Chahta Hai, on board for this film, we didn't want a 'Bollywood' look. We wanted them to wear what real college-going youngsters wear. We also avoided strong colours like yellow and red so the look would not be gaudy. We used a lot of green, which is a very young and vibrant colour.

A still from Shankar's BoysAmong the boys' characters, one is from a slum, one from a lower middle-class setup, and another from a middle-class family. One of them is from a rich family, as is the girl.

We shot each house in a real location. We avoided making them look glamorous. We didn't clean up the slum dweller's house. We shot it as it is

We only went in for a slightly different and unrealistic look for the songs. People expect a lot from the songs in a Shankar film.

The boys in Boys behaved like boys. All of them came from different economic backgrounds and looked their part. Since they are not trained actors, they did not need to unlearn anything like drama and emotions. For example, when angry, they just look angry, instead of frowning and flaring their nostrils. 

If you look at the most successful and best-looking films in Hollywood, like Traffic, Eric Brockovich, City Of God, Memento, they have all been shot realistically.

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We tried to depict bigness in a realistic way. For example, a guy walks out of a slum. When we pan the camera along with him, you see the whole slum. That means we have to have a crowd there.

There was another scene. These five boys are sitting on a parapet near a cricket ground. We had to dress up the crowd to give it a grand look. We needed boys playing cricket on the ground, vegetable vendors, traffic, etc, on the road. We needed 25 cars and 200 junior artistes for that scene.

Sometimes, it would take all day to shoot just one shot. It was tough and time-consuming. That is why the film took so long.

Lighting-wise, I didn't do anything drastic. In Koi... Mil Gaya, I used glamorous lighting. Preity Zinta had to look beautiful. Hrithik Roshan had to look vulnerable in the beginning and strong in the second half. So I used low camera angles with wide angle lenses with just a half light in the second half to make him look masculine.

In Boys, on the other hand, I used realistic light. I experimented only with camera angles.

Genelia D'Souza in Shankar's BoysThe most difficult part was when I had to light up Chennai's Mount Road for the final chase scene. We had to use 15-20 generators, which only a Shankar and A M Rathnam [producer] film can boast of. We were given permission to switch on the lights only after 11.30 pm. So, for about a week, we shot from 11.30 pm till 6 am.

For that difficult and tricky shot, we had to wet the road. Two of the boys, Siddharth and Nakul, had an accident. Siddharth had to be hospitalised for three days. It was a very important scene in the film and the most difficult one to shoot.

Another set I found difficult to light was the glass set which Sabu had erected. It took Sabu a month to erect that set consisting of hundreds and thousands of bottles. It was dangerous and difficult.

Shankar wanted the film to be a slice of life. At the same time, he wanted unusual and young camera angles. To shoot a guy sitting and shaking his legs, we had the camera move up from his shoes to his face, which you may not see in films.

For example, you cannot have a wide angle lens and go near somebody like Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai. They hesitate because wide angles make you look unflattering. 

But the use of wide angle lenses in Boys gave the characters attitude.

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 4

Sub: hi

hi sir u r one of the best cinematographer india hav got watching ur work impressed al the audiance but for me as i m ...

Posted by bedanta

Sub: mindblowing cinematographer

he is just a mindblowing cinematographer. i have never seen a better cinematographer than him. Just see koi mil gaya and boys.. the way he ...

Posted by mithun

Sub: Astonishing but, acceptable

I profoundly feel that Shankar doesn't have to be told to be feeling proud to be hearing that hez different, rather he seems to be ...

Posted by Rajesh Prabhu

Sub: not upto the expectations

hello sir technically the movie is very good but script wise its some what fragile,my 1st opinion when i saw the movie is that it ...

Posted by naresh kumar


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