Veteran cinematographer Anil Mehta has worked with directors from across the spectrum from Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Khamoshi to Iranian auteur Majid Majidi on Beyond The Clouds. Answering a question from our Film Club member Mohit Mahashabde, he spoke about how he chooses a camera to shoot a film.
“It’s like horses for courses. I’m not stuck with a piece of equipment. Because the film will dictate it. So for a film like Highway or Badlapur, it was a very minimal, stripped-down requirement. But if it’s a big production – lots of set pieces, lots of action – then the whole thing will change,” he says.
Having said that, the camera that has stayed with him over the course of three to four movies is the Sony F65. “I felt it had a colour palette which is more suited to our environment – harsh lights, very saturated colours – because of who we are and the clothes we wear. I found this camera responding to that reality and environment really well so I used it quite often.”
Mehta also stated that having lived through the transition of film to digital, the bottom line on the ongoing film vs digital debate for him is – everything that the digital camera aspired to be was benchmarked by film and the analog process. So technicians would try to achieve that look.
“Today, digital technology is claiming that it’s gone past film and they have what they call HDR, etc. But the fact is, for the film that plays in the cinemas, we are still trying to deal with the same idiom, the same grammar, the same look. The materials have changed. So when I work on a film and I work with a digital camera, the equipment is dictated by the same concern,” he says.
However, he maintains that he’s completely open to using any camera. “On Wake Up Sid which was shot on film, I used a DSLR to do all the city shots. So it’s about choosing the right equipment to do the right job.”
All through this month we will be running a series of articles and videos on Anil Mehta and his work and expose what goes into creating the images that have become an indelible part of our popular culture.