Each frame in his movie has its own identity and is a visual delight. He has been Director of Photography for films like Aakhon Dekhi, Mithya, Fatso, an IMAX movie ‘Journey to Mecca,’ et al.
In an exclusive conversation, Director of Photography, Rafey Mehmood speaks out his heart with Asma Rafat about cinematography in cinema today, the advent of new cameras, his relationship with Rajat Kapoor.
- What is your opinion about cinematography (as a profession) in Hindi cinema today?
The Cinematography has improved a lot. I would say it has evolved from earlier days. The pattern of working in the industry has changed. People have become professional. A cinematographer is no more a technician, but his craft is respected today. The cinematographer is one of the main forces behind the movie and is one responsible person who handles the nitty-gritty of a particular scene on the location.
- How do you see the change when movies went from film to digital?
This change has made things and works more comfortable and smooth. Digital cameras are friendlier and are in tune with the latest technology. The digital technology has emancipated filmmaking. It is low cost, and everybody gets a chance to shoot. But the image quality of celluloid is exquisite, and I feel it should stay as an option or aesthetic choice. My preference for quality right now is film, for most of the content. I see the difference blatantly. But I guess for the broader audience the difference is not visible and not relevant. That one has to respect.
- You have mostly worked with Rajat Kapoor. What is your equation and relationship with him?
It’s a very organic relation. We understand each other and respect each other’s opinion. I would instead call it a ‘symbiotic relationship.’ He appreciates the vision that helps me in translating the visual. Apart from being a fantastic writer, director, he is a good human, and that keeps his equation healthy with me. I believe in communicating while and before taking the shot and this helps in our equation to grow mutually.
- You have shot Journey to Mecca – an IMAX film. Tell us about the experience.
I would term it as an ‘intense experience.’ We were shooting in Mecca simultaneously with three different units with crew members from 12 countries. It is a different cinema experience regarding shooting as well as watching. In such films, the format dictates that whatever you shoot is a spectacle. So you shoot it for a spectacle, whether you want it or not, everything will look big and significant. We were trained to shoot for that.
- Any advice you would like to give to the young and aspiring cinematographer.
The young people who would want to come into Cinematography should learn the craft beforehand. They should travel extensively so to observe things around and to become better human beings, then only they can deliver good cinema. To be frank, it is not easy to get into this field, but if you are determined and are flexible to adopt complex environment, then there is no stopping for them.