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Interview Team : Kaushik L M; Venkat

Tamil cinema is going through a nice healthy phase where interesting scripts are being taken up by gutsy producers and ambitious directors. Many promising young technicians are plying their trade currently and have proven their calibre. With films like Soodhu Kavvum and Thegidi, Dinesh Krishnan is one such youngster who has a made a big mark as a cinematographer worth watching out for. Behindwoods catches up with this simple young man for a chat about his journey in tinsel town so far. 

How did you develop the interest to come into cinema as a cinematographer? 

I developed an interest in cinematography at quite a young age and decided to learn the tricks of the trade. Hence I joined the Film Institute and did a 3 years’ cinematography course. I also worked with Vikatan as a student photographer and gained valuable experience. My final year project at the Institute won the State Award for Best Cinematography.

Through Suriya Sir, I happened to get an opportunity to observe the shoots of Vaaranam Aayiram and after noticing me for about 3 to 4 days; Randy Sir was much impressed with my work and offered to take me on as his assistant. I gladly joined Randy Sir and worked with him in Vaaranam Aayiram, Enthiran, Haridas, David and also in 2 schedules of the recent Nenokkadine.

I then met Nalan and C.V.Kumar and got the opportunity to do Soodhu Kavvum. I then did Thegidi and currently I am involved in movies like Kappal and Mellisai.

Through Suriya Sir, I happened to get an opportunity to observe the shoots of Vaaranam Aayiram


We all know about the path breaking impact of your debut Soodhu Kavvum. How did you approach the movie? 

It was a black comedy and involved a lot of backgrounds and locations. A different treatment was needed for all the characters. We did a scene wise split, and the lighting and sets were differentiated. I worked extensively along with the art director. This segment-wise split was planned and executed to perfection. A lot of homework was done and we executed it well.


Randy sir’s feedback on your debut work

He was much impressed and was very happy with the different visual treatment in the movie. 


How did you go about your second film Thegidi, a murder mystery?

The cinematography needed to be engaging as the movie involved a lot of night shots and semi-lit shots. It was challenging and we worked on the lighting depending on the scene’s mood. Director Ramesh was really supportive and extracted good work from the team.

My learnings from Randy Sir helped me a lot to aesthetically approach a scene. My experience on the sets with Randy Sir, helped me to capably handle all the situations on the sets of Thegidi.


After working in a much loved film like Soodhu Kavvum, could you feel any extra confidence while working on Thegidi?

Definitely Yes. Many DPs & directors in the industry called and appreciated me after Soodhu Kavvum. Now I wish to explore more things in my coming films. While the visuals were somewhat glossy in Soodhu Kavvum, we gave a raw treatment in Thegidi. The digital comfort helped me explore more. 


Before the digital boom, did you get to work in the film roll era? 

I have had a great experience with films during my days as an assistant to Randy Sir on the sets of Vaaranam Aayiram, Endhiran & in many TV commercials. Composition and lighting knowledge can be obtained with a solid grounding in photography, which is the basis of cinematography. Film is the base of digital and we have all applied that knowledge to flourish now with digital cameras.

The complete work flow has been digitized now and people have adapted well. There are no fears of grains and scratches in the visuals. 

I have had a great experience with films during my days as an assistant to Randy Sir on the sets of Vaaranam Aayiram, Endhiran


What are your current projects? 

I am currently working on Kappal and Mellisai.

Karthik, the director of Kappal, has assisted director Shankar. ‘I Studios’ is producing the film and we have completed the movie in a short and sweet span of time. Vaibhav is playing the lead in this rom-com. This is another different genre for me to explore. We are currently in the post production stage.

Mellisai is a romantic thriller and Rebel Studios are producing the movie. Vijay Sethupathi will look new and different in this movie. I can’t reveal much but it is going good. Ranjith is the director of this film and he had earlier assisted Director Ram. We are looking at a summer release for the movie.

I also happened to work in the Vaalu teaser which was released on Valentine’s Day. I enjoyed working on the riot setting that was shown in this song. STR is very knowledgeable and knows what is being done. It was a good experience on the whole.

For Nalan Kumarasamy’s next movie, the same technical team from Soodhu Kavvum is being retained. The scripting work is going on and I am eagerly waiting for a narration from Nalan.

STR is very knowledgeable and knows what is being done. The Vaalu experience was good on the whole.


What do you have to say about the Vijay Sethupathi factor? People seem to love him so much and you have already worked with him twice. 

He is very realistic in his approach and is totally aware about cinema. He is really comfortable to work with and also gives good suggestions without forcing them upon us. He appreciated me on the very first day of Soodhu Kavvum’s shoots for my work on the lighting and our working relationship has been great.

Vijay Sethupathi is totally aware about cinema


Have you been on any major location scouting trips in your experience so far? 

During my days with Randy sir, I got to see some memorable locations. Jordan, Santorini (Greece) are my favoured spots, and also Krabi Island in Thailand which is located in the middle of the sea.


The major influences and inspirations in your life 

I am in awe of Randy Sir and his body of work. He is very dedicated for someone of his stature. He is punctual and a totally brilliant cinematographer with great aesthetic sense. We can learn a lot from him. 

Other than Randy Sir, I look up to Santosh Sivan Sir. The shots in the Inam teaser and trailer are breathtaking. I also admire the works of French cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel.

I also wish to thank C.V.Kumar Sir a lot, for the opportunities that I have received from him. He is a sensible producer and understands the needs of a film and the business aspects very well. He is very clear in what he needs to do.


How is the scenario now for promising youngsters getting into the scene? 

There are a lot of films and new scripts going around and it is a healthy scenario. A lot of technicians are willing to explore such new scripts. The scene will boom soon and truly brilliant films of international standards will become a reality. The pathway is being set up well currently.


What will you say is your USP and style going forward?

I wish to justify the script and intend to make it visually engaging and interesting for the viewer. I want to establish myself as an aesthetic DOP. I am fully focusing on the Tamil industry for now and wish to try and explore all genres. I have listened to limited scripts so far and am looking at diverse scripts and genres.

All the best Dinesh.



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