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Exclusive! Nimish Ravi on visuals of Dulquer's Kurup: Street photos from ‘60s to ‘80s served as references

The Luca cinematographer talks about the process that went into creating the visuals of Dulquer Salmaan’s Kurup

Sanjith Sidhardhan
Nov 11, 2021
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Nimish Ravi

From the teasers, trailers and song video, the visuals of Dulquer Salmaan’s period film Kurup stand out, promising to take the audience back to the golden era from the 60s to the 80s when the film is set in. The man behind this is cinematographer Nimish Ravi, who had previously cranked the camera for Tovino Thomas’ Luca and had also worked with the camera team in Siddharth’s Tamil film Jil Jung Juk.

OTTplay caught up with the budding cinematographer in Kochi, ahead of the release of the Srinath Rajendran directorial, to get a lowdown of what went into creating the world of Kurup.

Srinath had said he was impressed that you chose a Van Gogh painting as a reference for a song in Luca, and that played a huge role in him roping you in for Kurup.

When Luca’s director Arun Bose first narrated the story to me, it had an urban setting. As it was a story of an artist, we incorporated these paintings and other things into this and one day when I randomly going through Pinterest, I got introduced to Van Gogh’s paintings. It had a lot of similarity to the look of what we were trying to create for Luca and that’s how it happened.

Kurup is a period film and you would have required a palette. Did you have any references for that?

More than a palette, what the production designer and I tried to do was to keep it authentic. The story spans from the 60s to 1984, and people who have lived in those decades are still alive now. So, we cannot exaggerate it. What we have tried to do is to recreate a realistic retro film without having that plastic nature. To achieve that, we tried to look at the geography of the place where the story was set and used those colours. Street photographs from this time period served as initial reference points for Kurup’s visuals, and then we built on that.

Also, because the film is inspired by a true story, there were a lot of places that existed already. We just had to find that. During the recce, I posted a photo saying, ‘Finding Kurup’. So, it was a journey. Every day we were finding new locations and so, the palette was also organically made.

It’s a film where the production design assumes as much importance as the visuals and the storytelling because of the time period it is set in.

Yes, the biggest challenge for the production design was that the film shouldn’t look designed. We were insistent on that. So, what production designer Banglan did was to make it as real as possible. So, we didn’t have too many sets; we went to the real locations and used extensions to make it retro. That was our approach to the whole setting.

Kurup is essentially a mystery, and so you would have had to balance those dark elements as well.

You will probably get an idea once you watch it. The film doesn’t have a particular genre. The script travels through various genres, in fact.

For the visuals, did you take any references from the movies that you had watched earlier?

My first instinct after I got the script was to watch movies from that era and try to use those visuals. But what Srinath and I realised was that movies shot during that time period were filmed on sets. There were few films that were shot in real locations in the 60s and 70s. That’s how we landed on street photography.

Recently, you had also shot Ahaana Krishna’s debut directorial music video Thonnal. What can you tell us about?

We both are into a lot of projects as such and we have been wanting to collaborate for a long time once we get some free time. Lockdown freed up our schedules. Thonnal is based on her story from her childhood. As there are so many people in her household, even if they make something, they won’t get enough to eat. There’s a line in the song, ‘Tharaathe povathum, paraathi aayathum’, that became the starting point of the project. Also, because we were also producing it, we wanted all our close friends to be part of Thonnal and that’s how editor Midhun Murali and Luca’s production designer Anees Nadodi joined in. We wanted it to become something that would put a smile on people’s faces.

What are your upcoming films?

I have signed a film with Wayfarer Films and I am also doing a Tamil movie, which will be helmed by Guppy’s director John Paul George.

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