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As the annual day celebration of the Adyar based MGR Film Institute was getting underway, everybody had only one burning question. Should the fans be on or off? A stirring debate raged over the topic for over an hour and even the teachers joined in. Suddenly, everyone grew strangely silent.

We turned around just in time to see the chief guest of the evening, PC Sreeram, walk swiftly to the stage. Probably quite used to the awe he inspires in people by now, the cinematographer waved his hand and smiled. And immediately a round of applause and whistles – usually accorded to movie stars – broke through the silence. For in this corner of Chennai, PC Sreeram was undoubtedly THE Superstar.

“PC Sir is really a rebel at heart. He broke all the rules of  conventional cinematography and forged a new path for himself. It is a great honour to have him preside over our event.”gushed the emcee of the day’s event. Veteran Cinematographer Robert, who started his journey with the T Rajendhar movie Oru Thalai Raagam, was asked to give the welcome speech and he gladly obliged. ” I want to keep it short and sweet today. I used to hate the guests who went on and on at events like this. I’m indeed privileged to have led a life dedicated to my passion – films and I wish all of you lead such a life!”

Award winning cinematographer MK Ekambaram waxed poetic about his time at the film institute.” I was a farm boy who grew up on movies. I used to feel… Really feel that the sun rose and set just so PC sir could capture it on his magic lens!” He also emphasised the importance of proper guidance for the students at the institute. “If you choose to roam around the college and do nothing, that’s your problem. But do seek the counsel of your teacher at the right time! You won’t be equipped for life after film college otherwise!”

After a short prize distribution ceremony,  PC Sreeram finally took control of the proceedings. ” My time here gave me the courage to look at myself in the mirror. That’s the power of this place.” He reminisced about his time on the campus and said “Its lush greenery and serenity always invoke such lovely thoughts in me. I’m always inspired to come back to this place!” Though he repeatedly insisted that he was a particularly bad orator, he got his point across. “I always want to be one among the audience and to listen to people speak. To speak to people, that too on a stage, is quite an upsetting experience for me. Aana ellam kathukittu dhaan aaganum!” He urged the students to always be on a ‘quest for more knowledge’. “An artist can never stay idle. He has to learn and evolve with the times! Change is the only constant and we must learn to follow it!”

PS : They decided to keep the fans on after all.