Current Date: 5 October, 2022
Subhadeep Dey

Subhadeep Dey : In Conversation With A Cinematographer

I first met Subhadeep when he had just about joined the Institute and was there from 2008-2013. He showed me a short film which he had shot. The work showed exceptional talent and I knew Subhadeep was onto something good. He continues to do great work…

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema?
A book named ‘Kamon Kore Cinema Toiri Hoy’ (How films are made) published by the National Book Trust (Nehru Bal Pustakalaya), two books by Satyajit Ray – ‘Ekei Bole Shooting’ and ‘Bishoy Cholocchitro’.

How did you first become interested in cinematography? Did you start with photography?
Started with Still Photography. While working for a Bengali newspaper, discovered the power of photo essay – how arrangement of photos together can tell a story. Then I became a member of ‘Cine Central’, a film society in Kolkata and got hooked to cinematography.

What steps did you take to train yourself?
Observing light around myself and studying how architecture shapes the light. Taking still photographs. Watching Films. And then to The Film Institute.

Have you assisted anyone? How does it help one?
Assisted the late Somak Mukherjee. It helped me realize the intricacies of film industry and the management part of Cinematography.

How did your first film project come about?
I was in Mumbai after completing my institute days. I came to know that the director Oorvazi Irani was searching for a Cinematographer for her first feature. I contacted her and showed my dialogue film, ‘Airawat’. She liked it and I got hired for my first feature, ‘The Path of Zarathustra’.

What is perhaps the most important factor for you to choose a script?
Director’s intention and subjective view towards the script and scope of Cinematography to satisfy his or her intention.

Is cinematography intuitive or is it something you learn?
Cinematography is the subject which I had to learn.

Tell us something about your latest film.
The latest released film of mine is ‘Rajlokkhi O Srikanto’ (directed by Pradipta Bhattacharyya, National Award winner for his first feature ‘Bakita Byaktigoto’). There is an interesting narrative twist in this film. Reality, wishes and dreams are intertwined so delicately that the end of the film lies down on the perception of individual audience. If the end part of the film is in reality, then the middle part of the film is the fear of the characters ; and if the end part of the film is actually the characters’ wishes or dreams, then the middle part must be in reality. In this film, the definition of reality & dream depends upon each individual’s wishes & perception. While approaching Cinematography of this kind of narrative, I chose to be in the naturalistic zone. Because any other kind of treatment would break the illusion. In this film, drone shots are used not only to establish the location, but also as a bridging shot between the reality and non – reality.

Where do you seek inspiration from?
I get inspiration from my surroundings. Almost everybody have a smartphone in hand & they keep on clicking photographs. It is the gaze – common people’s gaze, which attracts me. Besides, the words which can evoke images & stories, inspire me a lot.

What is in the kitty right now?
Short fiction films.

What’s your dream project?
My dream project is yet to happen. It will be in Black & White where the reality delves into magic reality.

Your most memorable blunder?
I shot a mini series, ‘Hawa Badle Hassu’. Our finished product was supposed to be in SDR. Colorist & my Director insisted to do the grading in HDR. I asked whether the monitor is appropriate for the HDR grading & the Colorist said, “Yes”. I thought it would be better to do the grading in HDR and finish in SDR (as similar as grading in 4K & finishing in HD). We did the grading & left the studio. Everybody was happy. And when the final output came into SDR, it looked awful. Colors we saw in HDR turned into something else in SDR. But nothing could be done as the very next day was the deadline to submit the finished product. A well shot project was ruined by a wrong decision in the Post.

Any advice to the inspiring cinematographers?
No advice!

What book, music, movie are you enjoying right now?
Book – Portraits by John Berger, Movie – Old Bengali movie (Saptapadi), Music – Rabindrasangeet by Debabrata Biswas.

What’s your Instagram handle?
No instagram account .



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