Cinematographer Supratim Bhol talks about shooting upcoming films Avijatrik and Guldasta
Born into a family of farmers in Bengal’s Midnapore district, which is famous for the Patachitra, cinematographer Supratim Bhol was drawn to art from a tender age. Debuting as a cinematographer with the Bengali film Chorabali in 2016, this FTII graduate made his name with the National Award-winning Bengali film Sahaj Paather Gappo by Manas Mukul Pal in 2017. “Incidentally, it was the first film I signed on as a cinematographer, but the shoot was delayed,” explains Bhol.
Since then, Bhol has carefully picked his films, laying stress on the script including his Hindi films Lomad, Panchlait and Bengali film Abyakto. His upcoming movies include Yahspal Sharma’s directorial debut Lakhmi, followed by Arjunn Dutta’s Guldasta and Shrimati and most importantly, Subhrajit Mirta’s Avijatrik, a black and white saga that’s a sequel to Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy. We had a short chat with Bhol regarding his upcoming films and the journey so far. Excerpts:
How did you plan to shoot Avijatrik? Were you nervous because of comparisons that would be made with Ray’s cult trilogy?
The Ray classics are like The Bible. But, at the same time when you have an indomitable spirit to create a sublime form of art, you can’t afford to have fear or feel nervous. The script was also well written by Subhrajit. The challenge was to rebuild 1940 in 2019 with limited resources — the architecture, the people, their costumes, their body language, behaviour and actions, everything was completely different. Since it is in black and white, it was all the more challenging to maintain the colour schemes. The film has a good balance of diffused and rich contrast lighting from scene to scene as the script unfolds.
You have shot all the films for Arjunn so far. Tell us a little about Guldasta.
Out of all the movies that I have shot, most of them are associated with literature. But, Arjunn’s scripts are completely one of a kind — lucid and emotional. Guldasta has turned out to be a very heart-warming and relatable tale. Women-centric films are nothing new, but the treatment has made all the difference.
Will we ever see something as overwhelming as Sahaj Paather Goppo again?
I feel so blessed for the recognition that Sahaj Paather Gappo has given me. Almost the entire film was shot in mid-monsoon at Bolpur using a rain machine, a mix of regular cinematic lights and a lot of handmade lights. That’s precisely why the audience could smell and feel rain, mud and the characters so deeply. I don’t know whether I will come across such scripts again.
What are your favourite movies?
Aparajita by Satyajit Ray and Bicycle Thieves by Vittoria De Sica.