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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Cinematography Art, Review: A magazine for the learned and the learners

Cinematography Art, Review: A magazine for the learned and the learners

At the Broadcast India exhibition, held at the Jio World Convention Centre, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai, October 13-15, I chanced upon a stall that displayed several issues a magazine and a large poster of a film school. The film school was named Craft, while the magazine was called Cinematography Art. Art and Craft co-existing. Inquiries revealed that the two ventures are run by Naresh Sharma, who is known to me, as a conductor cinematography workshops. The young man manning the stall handed me the latest copy of the magazine, their October-December issue (it is a quarterly), with a request to review it. So here we are.

This is the 35th issue of the magazine and it is priced at Rs. 100/USD5, and runs into 64 pages. It is in a ‘double whammy’ format, with a front cover on both sides, and text printed in reverse for half the magazine. On one cover is Supratim Bhol, winner of the National Award for best cinematography, for the film Avijatrik, the sequel to Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy. On the reverse cover is a poster of the 30th International Film Festival of Torun, Poland. Both are attractive, in their own way. Bhol is interviewed for the cover story, which comes in only at the end of the first section, spanning five pages.

Bhol conducts a Master Class for Craft cinematography students. He describes one scene from Avijatrik, “There is a walk of a couple on a very small lane inside a village and the village is next to a pond, so you don’t have the place to place your lights. It was supposed to be shot during day. The artiste arrived late. So we had to shoot in the evening. So how do I light it up? There were four-five houses on the right and a little gap between them. If I placed those lights between those gaps, it will look like I have done zonal lighting, which is impossible in a realistic zone of a light in 1940. The only possibility during night is the sky light...a kind of existing street lights or whatever it is. Street lights in 1940 were not there in the villages. So, overall, the sky light, which is falling on the entire village also fell on that particular lane. I was thinking that I had just 10-15 minutes when the artiste was already there, discussing with the director. Suddenly I realized that the entire road on which we were shooting in 2019 had municipalities small CFL bulbs, almost like zero watt giving very soft shadow-less feel.”

As you flip through, the fourth sheet is an advertisement for CRAFT FILM SCHOOL, run by Naresh Sharma. Interviews with Amit Bhandari, Director, Business Development and Sales at Tinnu International, an agency selling a whole range of professional cameras. Going through it, we learn that Alexa is the first choice among cinematographers, while Red is the second priority. Getting into the nitty gritty, the magazine carries another interview, this time with Debojyoti Ghosh, an acclaimed colour grading artist. An added attraction is the tribute to Ashok Mehta by Naresh Sharma, editor and publisher. Madhuram J. Solanki recollects his experiences as Director of Photography (DOP). Broadcast India Show (BIS) is previewed over four pages. A highly interesting feature is 5 Plays in Search of Ibsen by lighting designer Daulat Vaid, occupying 14 pages. This is followed by an interview with Barun Mukherjee, renowned cinematographer. Incidentally, Barun shot my ‘Diploma film’ when I was studying cinema at Xavier Institute of Communications, in 1980-81.

Cinematography Art is a necessary tool of the trade for cinematographers, both established and budding, the learned and the learners.                                                                                                                          

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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