|Photo by Kamal Bose|
Like I mentioned in my last post there were a few film personalities I wanted to interview, Kamal Bose was one of them. He was one of the leading cinematographers of the industry. He had won five Filmfare Awards - Bandini (1963), Anokhi Raat (1969), Khamoshi (1970), Dastak (1971) and Dharmatama (1975).
Kamal Bose wanted to be a fine artist but for some reason he was unable to pursue it, seeing his disappointment, his older brother got him a job as assistant art director at New Theatres. Here his interest in photography was aroused by a still photographer. Bose watched him closely and learnt all about the technical aspects of photography from him. One thing led to another and Bose switched departments and he became an assistant to Sudhin Majumdar who along with Bimal Roy was one of the leading cinematographers of New Theatres. Majumdar took a liking for him and allowed him to operate the camera, which was surprising as in those days cinematographers jealously guarded the camera and did not allow their assistants to touch the camera. It was Bimal Roy who gave him his first break as independent cameraman. He did quite a number of films with Roy at New Theatres. Roy later came to Bombay and sent for Bose in the year 1951.
|Screen, December 6, 1991|
How was it like working with Bimal Roy?
I spent some of the best moments of my life at Bimal Roy Productions. Bimalda was a great visualizer. Since Bimalda was himself an ace cinematographer and a master technician, I was able to acquire a wealth of technical knowledge from him. He taught me how the quality of a scene could be enhanced with the effective use of light and shade. From Bimalda I also learnt the importance of maintaining the source of light. He was a meticulous filmmaker. For instance he was very fastidious about the time of shooting a scene. He would insist on shooting a night time scene at night and an early morning sequence early in the morning. He would do this even if it meant returning to the location again the following day early in the morning, so as not to mar the continuity in the highlights. Today the filmmakers are so hard pressed for time that very few of them bother about such details.
|Balraj Sahani and Master Rattan walking on he Howrah Bridge in 'Do Bigha Zameen'|
Besides the late Bimal Roy you have been particularly close to Asit Sen and Feroz Khan. Could you say something about these two directors?
Bimalda and Asit Sen belonged to the same school of filmmaking. Like Bimalda, Asit Sen too was a talented cameraman and visualizer. He had a unique way of taking his shots He would take low-angle shots so as to lend dynamism and power to a character. He was able to create some interesting and dramatic moments on the screen, with the help of some rather interesting camera movements.
At left is a typical low angle Asit Sen shot from 'Annadaata', Kamal Bose was the film's director of
(This scene is quite a long one but I have tube chopped a portion of this scene, here is link to it. Watching it you will get an idea of the risks involved in shooting such a scene)
Who are the other noteworthy directors you have worked with?
Well, I worked with the late Ramu Kariat in the Malayalam film '7 Nights'; with the late Sukhdev in 'My Love' (Shashi Kapoor - Sharmila Tagore) which incidentally was my first colour film; with the late Rajinder Singh Bedi in 'Dastak', Salil Chowdhury in 'Pinjre Ke Panchi', late Hiren Nag in 'Aakhri Mujra' and with Hrishikesh Mukherjee in 'Musafir'. While working in 'Musafir' I had the unique experience of shooting the entire film with artificial lights. I was a little apprehensive at first, but Hrishikesh insisted and I later on found that it did have quite a wonderful effect.
You have been abroad a few times and you also had the opportunity to work with the technicians over there. How would you compare the situation here to that in the west?
The Indian cinematographer or technician is in no way inferior to them. They have access to some of the world’s most sophisticated equipment. Here I would like to mention an incident that took place while I was shooting in Germany for 'Apradh'.
Would you say cinematographers in India need to be more versatile?
(Laughs) Well. You could say that. Abroad they have various cameramen specializing in various aspects of cinematography. For instance, they have stunt photographers for shooting scenes that involve stunts. Here in India we have to shoot everything ourselves.
Did you at any time regret that you were not able to be a fine artist, as a young boy you wanted to paint pictures?
No, certainly not. I still consider myself an artist for instead of a canvas, I paint pictures on celluloid, my medium being not the brush and paints but lights and camera.
As a cinematographer which film or films do you consider most satisfying?
Bimalda’s 'Sujata' and 'Bandini'. These films were truly artistic and as a cinematographer I found satisfaction in every frame.
Personally I am not surprised that Bose mentioned his award winning film 'Bandini' as one of his favourite films, after all this was the film which had that timeless scene where Kalyani (Nutan) commits murder in a fit of rage. This scene is a rare combination of good direction, acting and excellent cinematography. Here is link to that scene. I had discussed this scene at length here.
Kamal Bose passed away three years after I took this interview in 1994. He was active right till the end and his passion for his profession even at that age was admirable. One of the films that he was working on at the time of his death was Dilip Kumar's maiden directorial venture 'Kalinga'. Unfortunately this film never saw the light of day, it remained incomplete.
In my last post I had mentioned that members of the film units are often requested by the director to do bit roles, Kamal Bose also appeared in a scene in Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen. It is the scene where Balraj Sahani and Master Rattan are moving around in Calcutta, when Rattan notices a man wearing a shirt with a newspaper printed on it, he is absolutely amused, this man is none other than Kamal Bose – a very young Kamal Bose.
|(Left to Right) Balraj Sahani, Master Rattan and Kamal Bose in 'Do Bigha Zameen'|
He allowed me to play around while he shot the pictures. You can understand, I guess, why I call this bunch of photographs my 'portfolio'. He later came back to shoot some pictures after I had gone bald. Although I have no memory of that day, thanks to these photographs this is a sweet memory I shall always carry with me.
Kamal Bose’s autograph was quite interesting. Whenever he went abroad on outdoor shoots, he always returned with some gift, once I requested him to autograph the gift. This is his autograph, the letter K is in the shape of a camera.
It was gifted to me way back in 1978. The years have taken its toll on the box in which the gift was kept, that is why you see those tell-a-tale signs of aging around the autograph.
I still have plenty of memorabilia that I would like to put up on this blog. However sifting through them is quite a time consuming task, therefore I have decided to take a leaf out of the books of fellow bloggers Dustedoff and Anu Warrier who on and off post beautiful songs based on some theme or the other. I thought why don’t I do the same, after all there are a number of songs from my father’s films that shrike a chord in my heart. So inspired by my fellow bloggers I will post some of my favourite songs from my father’s films (my father may or may not feature in these songs) in my next post.