Subodh Potdar

Recollects Five Commercials From Cinematography Point of View.
I am from art background and have done my graduation from J.J.School of Arts .I know how to use art to communicate but was amazed me through my journey that how cinematographer add value to communication and they just go unnoticed. The way they put so much effort to make the Advertisement look beautiful and natural .
“Godrej Storewell ”
There was a commercial I did of “Godrej Storewell” which are actually steel cupboards shot by Ajit Bhatt. The story was about a boy and a girl to be married and the boy had booked a flat and took the girl to show the flat. The flat was under construction where only the walls and the pillars could be seen and cement all over the place and the guy telling the girl about the bedroom, hall, kitchen and where to put the paintings and interiors where he tells the girl regarding cupboard position that ”here will be the cupboard” and inside the cupboard he kept something very carefully.
So this was the theme and we actually found an unfinished building in ‘Lohkhandwala “. So few of the shots were taken there .The idea was to show the building in a beautiful location but we could not get that and usually unfinished building have a very unpleasant sight of exteriors when seen from inside of the building .So we had to shoot the inside of the building somewhere and the outside view from inside was done somewhere else.
Lohkhandwala was one location and another at film city where we used the lake and forest as the background and constructed little bit of the condition which was closer and was like the unfinished building of Lohkhandwala. The way the lighting, camera work, lens adjustments were matched so beautifully .
The planning was great and the time when cinematographer took the shot, there was no light and he used the daylight and the same at film city building also, there was only little settings done over there like texture of the walls etc.
I feel that it was one of the most beautiful adds I have done as it is memorable in terms of overall communication but in terms of filming it was feeling like a hot knife through butter, as u couldn’t point out any flaws .
Nerolac Paints
we were doing Nerolac paints and we had to show luxurious living, beautiful homes and it was about 4 or 5 different women who lived in those beautiful huge houses .Ashok Mehta was supposed to do the lighting for that and he did it in way that each one of those houses were enlightened which looked one better than the other. One house was supposed to be more bigger house where the staircase was at end of it and the camera had to pass through the window and set was about 40×30 which was a small set but he had a great idea of using sunbeams which would give the set a feel of huge house. The lights coming from behind the camera in to the window and then on to the floor and then onto the wall opposite where there was the staircase from which a woman was coming down. She had to look up very fashionable, beautiful and there was no furniture in the house, only huge walls and lovely floor and the tree. The way “Ashok Mehta” created the space as he used lights with mirror opposite and there was another mirror opposite to the first mirror which made the light beam enlarged by three times .By the time light came on the floor it had travelled three times it’s distance and the light beams almost became parallel beams, they were not divergent light beams.
In that small space u could get the feel of parallel sun lights that’s why he took almost 8 hours to light up the whole place and only half an hour to shoot !!
There was one shot where the windows were opening and the trees outside was to be reflected on the window glass and all this had to happen on 40×30 feet set. He did put some trees on Skimmer on a tracing paper which was reflecting on the window glass and look as if there were trees outside the window and the window was opening with the camera going in to the house without stop and the woman was walking towards us.
In the similar film there was a time when camera was travelling from inside towards the window and then outside the house where there were lots of palm trees and it was raining, but the way palm trees were arranged and the rain drops falling over them was all amazing, it’s just that I can’t forget the film.
Santoor Soap.
There was another commercial which was “Santoor Soap” where there was Priya Kakkar walking in to a music shop. The DOP was again Ashok Mehta lighting of that music room was very artistic adding value to the music instruments .
Amul India
And there was a ad of Amul taste of India, if u remember that “Jaraa Si Hansi, Dulaar Jaraa si” Amul the taste of India shot by “Barun Mukherjee”. The challenge for me was to make the film look like real life in spite of using light, camera and colors. The images had to come out candid because as per the client’s brief the Amul will be facing a lot of competition in the future in the international market .Amul in terms of taste may not compete with them but in terms of feeling we had to show that Amul is ours,Amul is Indian and that feel had to be there so that no other foreign company could wipe out Amul. That’s why it should put impact of “it’s my Amul”. So everybody there had to look like my neighbors, my nephew, my sister, my childhood so nothing was supposed took foreign or kind of outsider or borrowed from other company or country and
So we took models who were not experienced and that was a problem for Barun da as he was very particular about lighting faces even if they were non performers. But still the way he handled the lighting for the outdoor and indoor was just the same. It was amazing technique of using soft light in spite of using hard sun light kind of feel . His contribution was great .
There is a colony in Bombay where there Nepali people stay like watchmen and all, so they were taken along with their wives and children because they had a look of north east Indian residents and we had to take a shot of those people and it was shot in Maharashtra somewhere close to Bombay.
I remember it was supposed to be a road side shot where vehicles are passing by which were Amul delivery van and the Nepali children who were on the side of the road they had to run behind the vehicle. This was the shot and the place was supposed to depict north east view and we had time to spare so we thought of two things that either we kill the time somehow or make the available location look like north east part of India because there only hills and cloudy weather around there.
Barun da came up with the idea of flag so we started tearing “malmal” in to shreds of type which find as a pray flag in temples or Buddhist temple and everyone in the unit was tearing the cloth pieces. Then we stitched those pieces in the form of flags and as we were on the top of mountain where there was slope so we fixed a pole and attached those prayer flags to the pole. So from faraway place it was looking like a Buddhist temple in the background as in the foreground there were children dancing and jumping when the van passes by and the children had to follow the van and it turned out so much beautiful scene
But eventually the film looked so natural and real that anyone could make out that the film was not shot all over India. The things we used like elephants from Kerala, children sitting on the elephant and Assam and Meghalaya and everything was so natural in the film that I have to give complete credit to Barun Mukherjee for making the film look so real and natural.
Another commercial which I still remember is “Nerolac” shot by Rajiv Jain. Though the set director and designers created the set very well but the in my experience there are some cinematographers who really use the shadows to cover-up the flaws because the set is not real and we have to make it looks real. If you light up the whole place then you light up the flaws also, and then you have to hide the flaws using shadows smartly, so that you could make the set look real.
It was “jab ghar ki raunak badhaani ho, deewaaron ko jab sajaana ho, nerolac” . The set was made in the small studio of film city and there was a group of boys who were supposed to be painters who came to paint the house and that day was the finishing touch to house. Just after finishing the painting work they are taking off their empty cans, dirty rags and uncovering the covered furniture and living the house.
It was a simple thing to show but the way he moved his camera from room to room along with those dancing choreographed boys was just amazing. The light source was coming from one side although we moved from one room to the corridor then the third room which was all on the same floor with beams of light and shadows of light so you can just imagine the rest of the house. If there are pillars behind the camera and the light is back of those pillars which is sun light so, the light from behind will cast the shadows which are over the shoulder of the camera and falls on the floor and for these kind of things what he created was amazing. Being artist myself, I used to sit behind the camera and watch happening that which was such treasure of experience as non real sets become real .

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