Picturing Adoor Gopalakrishnan


Adoor Gopalakrishnan, is an Indian film director, script writer, and producer. Adoor Gopalakrishnan had a major role in revolutionizing Malayalam cinema and is regarded as one of the finest filmmakers of India. Adoor’s first film Swayamvaram (1972) pioneered the new wave cinema movement in Kerala. (text: Wikipedia.)

picturing Adoor Gopalakrishnan in New Delhi Photo by Gireesh GV
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, in New Delhi 2001/02 Outlook Magazine. © Gireesh GV/ Outlook. ( recopied from  the original Transparency film )

It was a typical Delhi summer noon at India International Center guest house. He was there in Delhi for some meetings. I got his appointment through Namrata Joshi (my colleague, Outlook correspondent). She was doing a story about his new movie for the latest issue. Her story has to go into pages on the same day. So I rushed to the IIC guest house.
I was thrilled to meet him for two reasons. I love his movies, getting to meet him itself is a golden opportunity. Then to photograph him is a bonus.
I reached there at 12 pm. That was the only free time he had, just before his lunch. I know it won’t be a good idea to photograph him in that harsh sunlight. But I was not keen to photograph him inside the room. On my way, I planned to request him for another time only for a photo-shoot. But he couldn’t reschedule for another time.
Unfortunately he is going back to Trivandrum on the same day, so my plans … !!!
We were on a tight deadline. I felt sorry for myself, not getting enough time to plan. But the chance to photograph another celebrity…
But…. How can I do like that…. just do the job and leave. I decided to look for a better location than his room. I knew I couldn’t take him anywhere else, because of the heat and lack of time. And the time allotted for the shoot was just 30 minutes. So many challenges.
I found a ray of light falling through the glass door towards the end of the corridor, on the same first floor where his room is located. It reminded me about Mankada Ravivarma’s lighting. So I decided to take him there, shoot with that cut lighting. By including more shadows and black area…. a nice portrait of him. I thought of monochrome, though we were shooting in transparency film.
The moment I reached the spot, I had noticed the bumpy silver painted rooftop of the walkway of IIC.
I opened the door into the roof area. He followed me. I still have that harsh sunlight for my shoot, I don’t know what was I doing there… But somewhere in my mind I decided that I will be using the silver paint as a backdrop. I requested him to sit on the roof, it’s a burning heat, Delhi summer time……, above 40°c but he was so cool and just obeyed my directions. Difficult to shoot him without any shadows on his face at this lighting… the only option I found is that I requested him to look up straight to the sun…. he did, and I shot. The picture just happened.

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