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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Didn’t expect such a reaction: Mersal DoP GK Vishnu on GST controversy

Director of Photography, GK Vishnu in an exclusive conversation with Hindustan Times, talks about his debut film, Mersal directed by Atlee and starring Vijay.

regional-movies Updated: Nov 03, 2017 12:34 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Priyanka Sundar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Director of photography, GK Vishnu with actor Vijay and SJ Suryah on the sets of Mersal.
Director of photography, GK Vishnu with actor Vijay and SJ Suryah on the sets of Mersal.

With its stunning visuals, Vijay’s Mersal has captivated audiences and is running successfully in theatres, despite mixed reviews and political controversies. From the Alapporan song set in Punjab to Neethane that was shot on a special set to the opera hall scenes, the camera-work has awed film-goers.

The man behind it is lensman GK Vishnu, a debutante in the field. In fact, the first time people heard about Vishnu was at the audio launch of the film in Chennai where Atlee congratulated the Director of Photography on his good work.

“It was a great feeling to hear Atlee say something about the visuals at the audio launch. He did say it has come out well, but I did not expect him to talk about the visuals at the audio launch,” Vishnu said.

A self-taught technician, who did his engineering and worked in interface designing, Vishnu has assisted Richard M Nathan and PS Vinod earlier and found that his experience helped. For inspiration, Vishnu looks up to the ace cinematographer Ravi Varman. “Specifically, Ramleela and Barfi. I feel, he is the superstar of cinematography,” he said.

His first ever shot was the film’s ‘thiruvizha’ (festival) scene where Vijay enters riding his bullet. And among his favourites in the film are the Alaporran song where there was a lot of red hue in play.

Vijay, Atlee’s Support


Shooting amidst big names like Vijay, Atlee, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Nithya Menon and Kajal Aggarwal did give him the jitters. But the cinematographer is grateful to Vijay and Atlee for supporting him. “I did not feel like a newbie on the sets, and they treated me like any other cinematographer. This helped me,” he said.

He says that he learnt a lot from Vijay. “From being professional to being punctual, the preparation before the scene, the hard work while shooting and more,” he revealed.

Vishnu revealed that he was able to get 60% of what he visualised on screen. “It is great that I could get that much. A lot of what we shoot depends on external factors. Especially, when we shoot outdoors, we have to figure the sunlight, the external lights and different frames. Macho, for example, was mostly visualised instinctively, and on the spot. So, to have got this much is great,” he explained.

Mersal Controversies

One of the many hurdles that the film faced was to release it on time for Diwali after the certification fiasco. “We initially didn’t think that we could have made it on time but the film did release. It was a little delayed, but we watched the first show at Vetri,” he recalled.

On whether he expected such a reaction from political leaders while shooting the GST and Digital India scenes, Vishnu said, “Certainly not to this level. This was something else entirely.”

Being a technician, Vishnu said he did not think much about the issues, as “we were on strict schedules”.

“I did not have time to think about this. In fact, when all of this happened, we were working on the Telugu version of the film,” he said.

GK Vishnu’s top five favourite scenes from Mersal
Alapporan song: Especially the part that had a lot of red hue in play. It was great to shoot it.
The Opera theatre scene: Shooting this was a great experience because we had to understand the lighting. The lighting was tricky and to shoot such scenes was a great learning curve.
Neethane song: The sets that we had for this song featuring Vijay and Samantha Akkineni is another favourite. Especially, the set that was high on the colour green.
First time both (characters of) Vijay share the screen: To be able to shoot an iconic scene like that was amazing.
Theatre fight sequence: This is another favourite of mine, where Vijay is wearing a silver shirt.

Read our review of Mersal here.

Follow @htshowbiz for more

First Published: Nov 03, 2017 12:34 IST