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DOP Jagan Chawali Interview

Jagan Chawali, cinematographer for recent critically and commercially acclaimed movie ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’ for which he won the hearts of industry, critics and the audience. One of the finest cinematographers Jagan Chawali also worked for Bhutan, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya and Bhojpuri films. 

He says that, cinematographer is a person who adds visual life to director’s point of view. So, let us know him in his own words...

How are you enjoying the success of Ladies &Gentlemen?

I am very happy with Ladies & Gentlemen success. A very big thanks to media and audience. Everyone is praising me. My fellow cinematographers called and congratulated me. My guru Rasool Ellore felt very happy for my work after watching the movie.

What are the challenges you faced while shooting Ladies &Gentlemen? 

Basically Ladies &Gentlemen is a movie with three different stories, which carries three different emotions in it. If we make any mistake in presenting these emotions on screen, then soul of the movie goes wrong. As a cinematographer I am completely successful in visually presenting the emotions on screen. Apart from this I had no challenges in making L &G. Director PB. Manjunath is my friend and producer Madhura Sreedhar Reddy garu gave me 100% freedom in my creativity.

Tell us about your favorite films which left a deep mark on you?

 Mani Ratnam’s Garshana, Roja, RGV’s Shiva and Bollywood’s all-time blockbuster Sholay has deep impact on me.

What is your background and how you got interested in cinematography?

 I am a graduate and my interest towards cinematography began during my college days. I am particularly interested in camera and lighting. So, I decided to work with Rasool Ellore at any cost, who is one of the top cinematographers at that time. Somehow I managed to join as an assistant to him. I travelled with him a lot and more he is like my elder brother. We worked for nearly 50 projects including, Tollywood, Bollywood, Hollywood movies and several ads.

Ladies & Gentlemen movie team is saying that you shoot the film with minimal resources (like lighting, camera, etc.) How you earned that grip? 

First of all I deeply discuss with the director, producer and makes sure that I get 100% clarity over script and other things. I don’t confuse while shooting. I shoot with what is required to the scene by keeping budget and other constraints in mind. I try to depend maximum on natural lighting, but at the same time I never compromise on quality. Experience made me do this.

Who is your favorite cinematographer in terms of inspiration? None other than Rasool Ellore, my guru and mentor. As a matter of fact, he is more than inspiration.

What are the films you worked as a cinematographer?
First of all, language is not a barrier for me and I worked for many films, especially Bale Donagalu, Manorama and Raaj in Telugu. I also worked for Bhutan, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Odia and Bhojpuri films.

Is there anything that influenced you in a cinematographic way? 
Particular style of lighting, framing, etc... My guru Rasool Ellore’s work. Director’s mindset is his mindset while shooting the film. He pre-plans everything before shooting. He never misses the continuity of lighting. Every work of his is magnum opus.

What excites you most of all as a cinematographer?
In my opinion, cinematographer is a person who adds visual life to the director’s point of view and enriches the storytelling of a movie. This is the most exciting thing to me.

How do you update yourself with new technology? 
Basically I am a continuous learner. I started using digital cameras in 1996. I am a guy who regularly attends seminars, workshops and exhibitions here and there whenever new technology arrives. I discuss new things with my fellow mates and listen to them.

What kind of ground work you do you do when you get a project? 
As I mentioned earlier I discuss everything with director, producer, art director, costume designer and other technicians before shooting. I do lot of homework. I keep locations and budget in mind. I never let my creativity go and I will not compromise in output. 

What are your future projects?
I am in talks with a Bollywood production company. Getting calls from Tollywood also, but I am looking for good project.

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