From covering bombings in Kosovo, where he’d accidentally wandered on to a live minefield and active volcanoes, to being one of B-Town’s leading cinematographers —that’s Aseem Mishra of Ek Tha Tiger and Paan Singh Tomar fame for you.
A former news cameraman who has covered happenings in over 40 countries across the world, Mishra believes this exposure is precisely what makes him different from the rest of the crop.
“What I like about shooting films is that they connect with people and I get to explore different styles of lighting and detailing; my work is very influenced by my days, like that of a news cameraman,” says he.
Aseem is currently in Punjab, shooting for director Kabir Khan’s upcoming film starring actors Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif.
A highly instinctive person, art for him is something that goes beyond the confines of technology. And to be a good cinematographer, he believes one needs to be highly sensitive to human behaviour. “You always need to be aware about the line between what is beauty and what is not,” says he and adds, “For me, it is a script that dictates aesthetics.”
Talking about aesthetics, it is inevitable that the topic veers to the ‘No Smoking’ ads that dominate our films. “One day, instead of seeing a film on screen, you will see half the screen covered by infographics, telling us what’s not good for us,” he laments.
Being a technician himself, he believes there is an inherited bias towards men and women behind the scenes who work to bring a film to fruition. “Sound engineers, editors, cameramen etc — all these people never get a front seat — their contribution needs to be recognised and appreciated,” says he.
A point that we all must sit up and take notice of, after all, imagine an actor doing their usual song and dance around the trees without any sound or an editor to cut out the bits where they trip. On being asked how challenging his work has been, he says, “I don’t want to be pompous and say ‘Oh, that shot was so difficult’ or anything to that effect; this is my job and I do it.”
He’s always happy about the fact that places such as Switzerland aren’t the one stop destination for directors anymore. “There’s a new breed of filmmakers experimenting with real issues that plague us, story ideas have evolved,” he smiles.
“The idea is, you pick up something you like and just go ahead with it with conviction; don’t be afraid of life and things will happen naturally for you,” he concludes.