Interviews

Interview of Santosh Sivan

1) Tahaan was your last film in the bollywood industry as a director. When do you plan to return as a director?
Ans) I have been a bit busy travelling since I do films in most languages because I do believe that cinema is a visual language. I just finished filming in the U.K. and am currently shooting a Telugu film. So, in between, I may return as a director for a film in Malayalam which I have not done for some six years. That how it goes really! I don’t really have any plans as long as the film I am doing is okay.
2) Do you think that short films and documentaries are the next big thing? What are your opinions about it?
Ans) I think short films and documentaries especially have gained significance after the web has arrived. This is because you always have a platform to actually showcase it and the social media is a very good platform for it. Also, it is short so that you always have a lot of people browsing it that can make it popular. In short films, the biggest advantage is that it does provide a platform to experiment to personal stories. So, it’s a very exciting kind of a phase in short film making and in film making as a whole. They also have potential and help more people to express themselves and their ideas because digital technology has also brought down the cost factor. Therefore, I think these are very interesting times!
3) Today, almost every other person has a DSLR. However, that was not the case when you first started your career. How tough was this journey for you?
Ans) In earlier times, of course, we did not have DSLRs available so easily and I think that you really had to make a choice to do something like cinematography or photography because it was not a conventional choice to pick up a career like that. When you went to school, you either had to be a doctor or an engineer or something like that with no real career choices. But today, you have schools, visual education courses and you can get your education. Also, because of the television and visual education platform, you have a lot of job opportunities and hence your parents will be more than eager to support you. In those days, of course, it wasn’t that easy. It was much more difficult to get a film done but at the same time, it was interesting as well and the challenges were definitely more than what we have now.
4) There a many books regarding the art of cinematography. Do you consider the theoretical knowledge of these books to be helpful enough or is it the practical knowledge that counts?
Ans) It is always important to learn a little bit of theory but that does not mean that when someone points a finger to you to look at something, you look at the finger instead of what you are supposed to see. So, too much of theory can also be a problem sometimes. Therefore, theory is good only because in a fast changing world, things keep on changing every time and in order to keep pace with that, it is important to emphasise on the tools of the trade. I have heard someone say that the best camera in the world is the camera that you have now.
5) It is said that the frames created by you are highly poetic. Hence, how do you go about this process of creating one?
Ans) Most people learn from what they see and at the end of the day, these becomes repetitive. Hence, it is very essential to go back to the education and the culture and slowly, you will start making images that are very special to yourself. This becomes much better and interesting than just imitating what you see on the net. I think that’s the whole catch for making frames and images that are very much personalized and meaningful.
6) What does the highly acclaimed Santosh Sivan do in his leisure time once the cinematographer Santosh Sivan is able to take a break from his schedule?
Ans) When I was at school, I didn’t want to take up a 9 to 5 kind of a job. I wanted to be in my own person. The whole idea of going into cinematography and photography was to travel the world and this helps to see the whole world. Everyday is like a new education and a day of learning because you visit different cultures and in that way, you are full of new ideas. As for my spare time, I am trying to grow a forest in Pondicherry. I bought some land and after I did a documentary film on farming, I decided that farming is fantastic. I am trying to grow a forest where the plants are based on the star signs of people. You have 28 star signs and each star sign is represented by a tree. So, that’s what I am doing.
7) What are your tips for young cinematographers?
Ans) I think there are no real tips as such. They will find the tips themselves when they have to and the only thing that they should do is follow their own voice. That is the most important thing.
8) If you could give any message for LaughaLaughi.
Ans) Thank you so much. Good luck.

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