Dani Sanchez-Lopez, cinematographer of ‘Virata Parvam’, on taking cues from documentaries and Russian cinema for a practical depiction of Telangana villages

Dani Sanchez-Lopez, cinematographer of ‘Virata Parvam’, on taking cues from documentaries and Russian cinema for a practical depiction of Telangana villages

Dani Sanchez-Lopez was barely seven when he had made up his thoughts that he would develop up and be a a part of cinema. His preliminary fascination was for appearing till he found that actors spoke strains written by others. He grew in writing, path and enhancing and acquired an introduction to all of those. It was whereas finding out filmmaking at Chapman University, California, that he realised he loved narrating tales visually. 

He had discovered his calling in cinematography. What Dani, of Spanish origin, didn’t foresee was that he would take up initiatives in India and work in Telugu cinema. His collaboration with director Nag Ashwin for the Savitri biopic Mahanati had him experimenting with visible textures that complemented each decade of the story. Post Mahanati, Dani got here on board for director Gunashekhar’s Hiranya, starring Rana Daggubati as Hiranyakashipu. The undertaking is in the works and, in the meantime, he was roped in for Virata Parvam. Incidentally, his first Indian undertaking was alleged to be Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court. “We spent numerous evenings in Versova, Mumbai, discussing the movie and the way we will painting India. By the time Chaitanya acquired funding and the undertaking was prepared for filming, I used to be in Pakistan engaged on one other undertaking,” Dani recollects.

Content, not scale

Dani has completely different brokers coordinating initiatives for him in Spain, India and Los Angeles and says his focus has been to take up movies which might be thrilling, regardless of their scale and finances. 

The Sai Pallavi and Rana Daggubati starrer Virata Parvam directed by Venu Udugula is a area of interest undertaking that is getting observed for its offbeat strategy to filmmaking. 

Dani (extreme right) with his assistant  Nishant Katari, Rana Daggubati and Sai Pallavi while filming at Athirapally Falls in Kerala

Dani (excessive proper) together with his assistant  Nishant Katari, Rana Daggubati and Sai Pallavi whereas filming at Athirapally Falls in Kerala
| Photo Credit: Sridhar Chadalawada

Dani, who gave the movie a distinct visible high quality, says he was impressed studying a 30-page synopsis translated from Telugu. “When I first met Venu, he apologised stating that his English was not good. I felt awkward and stated it needs to be the different method round — I’m the outsider who doesn’t know Telugu.”

Soon, Dani and the director watched documentaries filmed in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to watch how the villages have been portrayed realistically. The two additionally share a frequent curiosity in Russian movies. “I like the hypnotising digital camera actions in Andrei Tarkovsky’s and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s movies. We wished that sort of digital camera motion and realism.”

Through his lens

Dani studied movie and visible arts in Chapman University, Cornell University, and the UK and Spain. He sometimes conducts workshops and masterclasses for establishments reminiscent of FTII (Film and Television Institute of India), Chapman University, University of California Irvine, New York Film Academy and the UCA Film School in Spain.

Defining moment

For Virata Parvam, which is set in the Nineties of Telangana throughout the Naxal motion, Dani wished an earthy color palette that will be in sync with the jungle environment. “Earthy tones dominate the color scheme for Ravanna (Rana) and his comrades. Vennela (Sai Pallavi) is the outsider who arrives with vibrant colors. The scene in which she emerges from the tent, carrying camouflage clothing much like theirs, signifies her transformation. It is a powerful moment.” 

Dani checking the sunlight on Sai Pallavi, accompanied by his assistant Nishant Katari and the gimbal operator Sunil Kattula, in the jungles of Kerala

Dani checking the daylight on Sai Pallavi, accompanied by his assistant Nishant Katari and the gimbal operator Sunil Kattula, in the jungles of Kerala
| Photo Credit: Sridhar Chadalawada

Dani’s crew used gimbals to seize Vennela’s motion, as she restlessly units out on an journey. Dani attracts an analogy to elucidate how he seems at the strategies employed in cinematography: “If a dolly (shot) is like God, a handheld shot is like the particular person you possibly can sense close to you; the gimbal works like a ghost by narrating the story with out bringing an excessive amount of consideration to the digital camera. The gimbal actions let the viewers comply with the character.”

The method he has used for Virata Parvam is vastly completely different from what he employed for Mahanati: “I should not have a signature type. I attempt to adapt like a chameleon and do what is required for a movie.”

Virata Parvam was initially filmed by cinematographer Divakar Mani and owing up to now and scheduling points, Dani stepped in. Going by the footage filmed by Divakar, Dani wished to make sure synergy. “The color grading helped preserve a comparable tonality in the parts filmed by Divakar and me. For some sequences throughout the pandemic, my second unit DoP Krunal Saadrani pitched in.”

Days earlier than the first lockdown, Dani had flown out of India to be together with his dad and mom in Spain and was amongst the first worldwide travellers to return to India in November 2020. He credit the movie’s producers for serving to him with all the paperwork that was necessitated by the pandemic. “We adopted all precautions whereas filming. The really daring individuals have been the actors who needed to carry out with out masks. The Bonalu sequence was filmed as soon as the lockdown restrictions eased.”

Back in time

Virata Parvam was filmed in widescreen format (1.85:1 facet ratio) to recreate the look of the Nineties.

During the making of the movie, Dani and Venu Udugala exchanged notes with editor Sreekar Prasad on how they wished the movie to look. Dani reckons that his studying of enhancing comes in helpful in such conditions: “It helps me to speak my concept of visible design. We had a collaborative methodology of labor.”

Dani with director Venu Udugula and Nandita Das

Dani with director Venu Udugula and Nandita Das
| Photo Credit: Sridhar Chadalawada

Artistic contact

Dani wished the visuals to align with the poetic strategy whereas narrating Vennela’s story: “Our process was to reinforce the fantastic thing about the actual world. Production designer Nagendra, for example, used timber, branches, logs and every thing obtainable in Nature so as to add an inventive contact to the environment.”

The climax sequence is amongst Dani’s favourites in the movie: “Vennela is tied to an uprooted tree. I believed it was metaphorical and signified that she is being uprooted from the Naxal motion.” He and the crew cross three gorges to reach close to the desired waterbody for the ultimate sequence. “We might have filmed in a studio and labored with pc graphics. But taking the actors to the spot will get them in the proper mind set and that, I believe, contributed to the scene.”

Currently dividing his time between India and Spain, Dani is wanting to attempt completely different genres. Having watched a few movies throughout languages in India, he lavishes reward on Malayalam cinema: “They are amongst the greatest in phrases of high quality. Jallikattu, for instance, is a high-concept movie that jogged my memory of Spanish films of the Nineteen Seventies. I additionally preferred Liar’s Dice.”

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