As a schoolboy visiting his maternal grandparents at Mavelikkara in Kerala’s Alappuzha district during the summer vacations, Vijey Adithya Mohan Raj was always fascinated by the greenery and scenic beauty of the land. It was during those vacations that Vijey developed a passion for photography. The schoolboy who clicked amateur pictures of the panoramic views that captured his imagination with an old Nikon D5200 did not know he would make it to Hollywood one day.
The fascination for colours and images stayed with him even as he pursued a bachelor’s in engineering. By the time he was out of college, he knew he wanted to be in films. He went on to do a Master’s in Cinematography at California’s prestigious Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. However, during his Dodge days, his interest shifted to colour grading rather than photography. When it was time to pick a career, he chose colour grading which made him work for a handful of projects, cutting across genres, in Hollywood.
His latest project is Matt Damon and Ben Affleck-starrer 'Air' which is set for an OTT release in India on May 12. He worked as a dailies colourist with the visual effects team of the film. 'Isabel's Garden', another Hollywood production he has worked in as a dailies colourist, is slated to hit theatres in June.
“I believe that the art of cinematography is incomplete without colour grading. I think of it to be an extension of photography,” the 25-year-old Vijey told Onmanorama, explaining what caused his shift in interest.
“The more I served as a cinematographer, the more respect I started to gain for colourists. I lit and framed everything perfectly on the set with the mentality that it was the last step of the process, but certain things are definitely out of control for filmmakers who depend on many other factors such as colour of the sky or set pieces that can’t be touched during on-set production but could be modified in colour grading,” he said.
Vijey said working for the Ben Affleck-directorial was a huge learning experience. “The film opened new doors to me,” he said. Of late, he has been engaged in remastering of old classic movies.
Some of the films he worked in have found their way to major film festivals. Among them is 'Birds Without Wings', a documentary which became a finalist at the Student Academy Awards in 2020. Other films in which he worked as a colourist include 'Howard High' (2022), 'Forgetting Caroline' (2021) and 'A Fragile Heaven' (2022).
Vijey is the son of Mohan Raj and Mini, two Keralites settled in Chennai. Vijey completed his schooling in Chennai and did his BE in Production Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology under Anna University. It was a workshop conducted by filmmaker Gautam Vasudev Menon at IIT-Madras that inspired Vijey to become a filmmaker when he was in college.