remembers Ashok Mehta
My relationship with Ashok Mehta was a very special one, since we started our career with the same film, Hamare Tumhare, back in 1979. He had already shot Witness, but since it got stuck, Hamare Tumhare became our debut film.
For me, Ashok Mehta was a true artist and not just a director of photography. I would compare his creativity to artists like SH Raza and MF Husain.
What Raza and Husain did with their paintings, Ashokji did with his camera.
To give an example, I remember in 1995, he shot some sequences of Prem and we were amazed to see that they came out like paintings.
Ashokji was a pucca professional. I think he was the only cinematographer who could fire Subhash Ghai. He would come on set and say, ‘Subhashji, please leave the set. Mujhe lighting karni hai (I need to fix the lights for the shoot)”.
That even Subhasji listened speaks volumes about Ashokji’s work. Otherwise, it was usually Subhasji who bullied everyone else in his film.
It doesn’t mean that Ashokji was a tough taskmaster. He was a very sweet, humble and imaginative person.
But the way he would just create something out of nothing, his sheer talent, awed us all.
I had the opportunity to watch him at work, since I worked with him in several films, including Andar Baahar, Ram Lakhan and Trimurti.
Later, I had him to shoot my second production, Shortkut.
According to me, his best works have been 36 Chowringhee Lane, Bandit Queen, Ram Lakhan and Trikal.
I remember, he would call me nothing but “bachche”. Today, I can confidently say that Ashokji loved me. I met him a few days ago at the Kokilaben hospital.
At the time, he seemed fine.
Now that he has passed away, I can say one of the leading lights of Indian cinematography has gone. He will always be missed by all of us.
May his soul rest in peace.
(As told to Prashant Singh)