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Rodrigo Del Herrera speaks about Vanjagar Ulagam

Vanjagar Ulagam is an upcoming film that has Guru Somasundaram in the lead. The film is directed by debutant Manoj Beedha, and produced by Labrynth films. The film has cinematography by Rodrigo Del Herrera, and music by Sam CS of Vikram Vedha fame. 

Talking exclusively to Behindwoods, the cinematographer answered a lot of questions related to the film and his career.

1) Since you are from a foreign country, how was the process of getting adapted to the regional Tamil flavour? Was language a barrier?

The language barrier was not that hard to come around. As a cinematographer I believe every film develops its own communication tools and visual language is understood all around the world. Not knowing what exactly the dialogues said was in fact a great situation to be in. Since you don't have that aid to communicate you put extra effort to develop other layers to communicate how the scene should make the audience feel. Then it strengthens the cinematography and adds better opportunity for subtext.

2) Vanjagar Ulagam is a gangster film. What was your approach to this film? Was there any inspiration from other classic gangster films?

Gangster films always have an appeal for cinematographers. There is room for everything, their personality is so broad that you can reflect that in the visual style of the movie. We developed a dark mood that fitted some scenes and also we played with some color associative tools. We watched lots of Scorsese movies during preparation just to get us on the mood and analyze what great filmmakers have done on the genre. Then we developed our own style and tried to approach the story in a unique way.

3) You've worked on a lot of short films. How different was the experience to work on a feature?

It was not so different. In fact, it gave me more freedom to develop narrative tools that take time to establish. I have worked on other features and its always a different journey. It depends on the script and the director and the ambitions of the project, but I believe my work is exactly the same. I still have to connect with the story and understand the scenes and develop with the director a visual style that would fit the movie, or scene you are focusing at the moment. Every day on set, be it a feature length film, short film, or 30 second commercial, the work and effort put day to day is the same. We work to craft visual content, and to try to provoke an emotion with it.

4) How was the experience of working with Manoj Beedha - the director, and what impressed you the most?

Working with Manoj has been a fun journey. I know Manoj for quite some years now, and we had collaborated together in New York for a short film and we found that there was a creative connection. The advantage of working with him is that I knew we would have great communication and our taste in visuals is definitely a good match. His passion to make a good movie really motivated me throughout the shoot, he never thought of the movie as a very commercial one even though it might appeal to a broad public. His intention was always to craft his vision, and bring life to the script and characters, to finally make a movie of his own liking.

He also added that, "Creative desitions were always put first, Manoj had a great trust in me and the moment I brought up the idea of shooting the movie with anamorphic lenses he was on board all the way. There was a discussion with the production team regarding the expenses. That kind of creative decision would imply and after a week of back and forth talks, Manoj interceded and the decision was made. We shoot mostly on the Arri Master Anamorphics. But to my surprise they were so hard to get here in Chennai, and we had to get them brought from Mumbai for the shoot. Some specific sequences were also shot with Hawk V-lite anamorphic glass.

5) Can we expect to see you in more Tamil films?

I hope so. I fell in love with the Tamil film industry and I would like to know more interesting and talented directors who want to create quality content and great stories. As of now my intention is to work in more Tamil films and other Indian films from regions I have not explored. I've worked in several countries and collaborated with directors from all around the world and my intention is to continue the same. 

6) What are your upcoming projects?

I have a few feature films in talks right now. A musical drama that I have been working with a Mexican director friend of mine might be fully funded in 2019. A comedy feature, which a Dominican upcoming director wrote and wants me to shoot with her. And finally a documentary series I am co-producing and shooting with another talented director friend of mine.

(End of Interview)

Vanjagar Ulagam is a gangster film that is releasing on August 7. The movie focusses on the psychology of a gangster and is one of the most anticipated films in recent times.