NK Ekambaram’s cinematography in the recently-released SP Jhananathan’s Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai has been receiving critical acclaim. His work on the docu-drama about capital punishment in a democratic nation was quite the winner.
Purampokku, starring Arya, Vijay Sethupathi, Shaam and Karthika Nair, was extensively shot in the locales of Kulu-Manali, Rajasthan and Chennai.
At a press meet, Ekambaram said that he travelled with director SP Jhananathan for around 20 to 30 days scouting for location. “We were concentrating more on locations and wanted to bring out the nuances of those places,” he said.
Shooting Jail Portions
Most portions of the movie take place in a massive jail set which was erected at Binny Mills in Chennai. The jail portions of the movie have a subtle colour tone. “The challenge I faced was to show Binny Mills in a different manner. If we’d had Rs 4 crores, that jail set would have looked different, but we managed to erect the jail set with around Rs 2 crores. The construction work of the set continued throughout the shooting of the film.”
“Usually in films, jail portions are shot in either red or yellow tone. But to highlight the set, I used grey tone as the base. That helped show the white and khaki colors vividly. Since the use of grey throughout the film would be monotonous, we used brown for Shaam’s portions,” he said.
Ekambaram also stated that they had to refer many international movies to understand the techniques used to shoot jail. Apparently, he even requested a change in the jail uniform (to grey) so that he could avoid bleaches. But the director was insistent on sticking to the original colour.
On speaking about a particular helicopter shot in the movie, the cinematographer said that since it was election time, they weren’t able to shoot in Bangalore. But the director was bent on filming the shot as it would be a great moment in Purampokku, so they had to return to Bangalore later for that shot.
Getting Everyone Together
To bring in Vijay Sethupathi, Arya and Shaam together was a tough task. When the combination scenes got postponed to August, rains were erratic and the team couldn’t shoot indoor portions. “Kulu Manali portion was the toughest to shoot as the weather conditions in those places were against our body conditioning. Karthika Nair initially came with a lot of make-up, but I insisted that she tone down her make-up as it would not suit her character. Since it was so chilly, her skin cracked up and we had to use make-up to cover it up,” Ekambaram said.
The camera man, whose best works include Thamizhan, Iyarkkai, Kalvanin Kadhali, E, Kandasamy, De Dana Dhan, Drona, Kaavalan, Shortcut Romeo and Purampokku, will be working on a Hindi movie – Bai Welcome To India – next. “If SP Jhananathan comes up with another project, I will take it up readily. We both are like a family,” he said.