The swashbuckling stunt sequence between Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham on top of the Hummer, the alluring Deepika Padukone during the 'Besharam Rang' song, or the gravity-defying stunts and stunning locales, 'Pathaan' is a veritable visual feast for the senses. But did you know that the film, which has taken the box office by storm, was framed by Satchith Paulouse, a Malayali cinematographer? 'Pathaan', according to Satchith, is his debut feature film. The cinematographer who hails from Ernakulam, is an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune (FTII).
How did you become part of 'Pathaan'?
I was doing advertisements prior to this and had lovely collaborations with advertising directors. Lot of my learning happened with them. I was fortunate to experiment and explore different genres. 'Pathaan' is my debut film. Films did come my way but 'Pathaan' had the ingredients that suited the genre that I enjoy shooting. I love shooting car and bike scenes.
Tell us a bit about your Malayali roots
I was born and brought up in Bangalore, though I hail from Ernakulam. I did my graduation in architecture after which I went to the National Institute of Design (NID), where I studied film and video communication. I also specialised in cinematography at FTII Pune. I was fortunate to have studied under excellent teachers and also met so many inspiring people during my time there. My father CJ Paulose also graduated from the same institute in 1974. I got to discover a lot about him only after joining the institute, like the fact that he worked in several documentaries. He also learned film direction and went on to win several awards for the films he did as a student. The fact that my father is still a revered figure at the film institute was news to me. He never told me these things but I was able to connect with him more after that. That was a special chapter in my life.
Was 'Pathaan' shot with an IMAX camera?
'Pathaan' was not shot in IMAX. To get an IMAX experience, we converted the file into an IMAX format. Pathaan was shot in India, Spain, UAE, Turkey, Russia, Italy, and France. The climax portions were shot on Lake Baikal, considered the deepest and coldest lake in the world in Siberia.
How was your experience working with Shah Rukh Khan?
Shah Rukh Khan enjoys what he does. He brings so much positive energy to the sets. He also enjoys choreographing things for the camera. For example if I am shooting something with a handheld camera, he will adjust his position to make it easier for me. That helps in framing the shot better. His body coordination and muscle memory is also unbelievable. It is almost like a dance with him and the camera, which is an absolute treat. He really enjoys his action choreography, He is so down to earth and makes it a point to inform everyone, including the light boys, that he is leaving.
How is 'Pathaan' different from other Bollywood action thrillers?
I have not watched too many Bollywood films, to be honest. I know the advertising world a lot better. 'Pathaan' is my first film. There is a certain realism which we wanted to achieve and all departments were very collaborative. I would bring some references and ideas and suggest them to director Siddharth Anand, who was quite open to the ideas. I guess, it's a good thing that I haven't watched too many Bollywood films. I found the background music by Sanchit Balhara quite unique and interesting.
Do you watch Malayalam films? Are you interested in venturing into the Malayalam film industry?
I have seen the classics of Adoor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham, and G Aravindan. I haven’t been able to watch much of the recent Malayalam films. Since my roots are in Kerala, I am really interested in working in a Malayalam film if I get an opportunity.