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A dream come true

Ace cinematographer Madhu Ambat makes his directorial debut with `1:1.6 — An Ode To Lost Love', an English film starring Prabhod Das Gupta, Atul Kulkarni, Rati Agnihotri, Masoomi and Sonali Kulkarni. An interview...


AFTER WORKING wonders with the camera, Madhu Ambat, ace cinematographer, is now wielding the megaphone. "I have been toying with the idea of translating on to screen, a short story I wrote 20 years ago. But other preoccupations made me postpone the project all these years. It was only last December that I went ahead with the shoot of 1:1.6 — An Ode To Lost Love. The National Film Development Corporation produces the film," says Madhu Ambat.

Madhu initially planned to make the film in Kannada but soon realised that the film demanded English to be its language.

"Moreover, the characters in the film hail from different parts of the country. The lingua franca ought to be English. It is a film within a film. I found a perfect set of artistes," he says.

The film features Gulshan Grover (as filmmaker Prabhod Das Gupta from Bengal), Atul Kulkarni (as M, the cameraman from Kerala) and Rati Agnihotri (as Mrs. Bhatt who is the heroine's mother from Karnataka). Masoomi (niece of producer Gul Anand) plays the heroine, Sushmitha.

"Sonali Kulkarni does a key role in the film. M plays her jilted lover. We began the shoot at Masoomi's sprawling residence in Pune," says Madhu, giving an insight into his ambitious venture.

But what does the title mean?

"1:1.6 is the ratio of a film frame. When one begins to work for films, this ratio gets fixed in his eyes and he cannot help viewing the things around him through this frame. One even begins to draw ideas for movies from personal tragedies instead of getting affected by them; in short, cinema becomes more important than life. This is what M says. He gives the title, 1:1.6, to the film he is making. But his heroine, Sushmitha, feels the title is not complete. She suggests the title, 1:1.6 — An Ode To Lost Love. M is convinced. And thus was born the title for my film," laughs Madhu.

Is the character, M, autobiographical?

"No... No... I was inspired by Kafka's poems. He always referred to the main character as K, creating an aura about it."

Madhu says he has no intention to take up direction as a full-time job. "It is only a hobby. My passion and profession is cinematography." Madhu is currently cranking the camera for a Telugu film, Avuna!, directed by C. Umamaheswara Rao.

Madhu says he had an enriching experience working with filmmakers such as G. V. Iyer, K. R. Mohanan, Lenin Rajendran, K. S. Sethumadhavan, Mani Ratnam, Bharathan, Girish Kasaravalli and Prema Karanth. He won the National Award for Best Cinematography for Adi Sankaracharya and the Andhra Pradesh State Award for Hrudayanjali. He was the first Indian cinematographer to work for a Hollywood production -- Manoj Night Shyamalan's Wide Awake, which was shot in the U.S.

British filmmaker Timotty Fodder, impressed with his skills, made him the cameraman for his Binodini (English), based on a short story by Tagore.

A gold medallist from the Film and Television Institute of India in 1973, Madhu held the muhurat of his maiden directorial venture under the very tree on the campus where he had learnt the first lessons of cinema. He invited Satish Bahadur, the man who introduced him to good cinema, to switch on the camera.

"Art director Krishnamurthy has been of great help. Isaac Thomas has composed the background score. The film lasts 110 minutes. The locations include the stunningly beautiful Gokarnam Beach in Karnataka. I promise that the film will not be monotonous," says Madhu with a smile.

M. L. NARASIMHAM

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