Thursday, May 28, 2009

Forever Young - Ranjan Palit & Sound for Documentaries

Last Sunday as I was surfing through TV channels I happened to see on a ticker that Documentary 24x7 on NDTV will show Ranjan Palit's film - Forever Young.

Now during my days in Jamia's Mass Communication Centre, one of my faculty members had told the class that how Ranjan Palit is one of the best or probably the best documentary cinematographers of India. She said: "he almost dances with the camera" -

I was hardly impressed with that statement of hers. Later she showed us a clip from one of his works and that too didnt leave an impression on me. I thought there was nothing so extra-ordinary about the visuals, which our teacher was trying to point out to.

So then, with this in mind, I started watching Forever Young. Its a documentary about probably India's biggest Bob Dylan Fan - Mr. Lou Majaw, who resides in Shillong. From what I am told, Ranjan sir himself is a huge Bob Dylan fan. The camera in the documentary follows this guy to his concerts, performances, his life, his home and to his fans.

There is a moment in the documentary when the girls from St. Mary's school in Shillong are so excited to be at the performance that while he is singing, like every concert they too join by an impromptu dance steps. Now here is where i saw two superbly executed shots - where "the camera almost danced with them - step to step". It was amazing to see, my teacher was right.

Absolutely on target, even while the camera danced - it was so stable, the framing, the idea behind doing that - amazing. i felt that i was Enlightened.

Cut To
2 DAYS LATER

I was with Mr. Vikram Joglekar (Location Sound for Road, Movie). I casually referred to him about this documentary and Mr. Ranjan Palit and out came a box of surprises. Vikram had stayed at Ranjan Palit's place at Yari Road for a year. He too repeated the same words, what my teacher had told the class about Mr. Palit being the best camera for documentary. Vikram stressed that how everything happens so impromptu when he comes on location. the lighting, the framing, the movements - everything.
Quite an artist - i must say!

Vikram told me an interesting thought. The Sound for documentary is so much important compared to fiction. In Fiction films, the concentration is on Visuals. "Sound Post mei FIX kar denge" - is the usual remark you will hear from people on Sets.

But for a documentary - if Lou Majaw is performing for students in their school - then that sound has to be recorded then and there itself, in the best possible quality, you cant ask those guys to perform for you again. It wont have the same effect, the same quality, the same ambiance.

Thus, the sound and visual go together when it comes to a documentary whereas in Fiction - "Fix it in Post" is the attitude.

Thankfully, on "Road, Movie" - not a single shot went without the call of "Sound rolling". It surely was a great learning experience.

As for Mr. Ranjan Palit - I have got your filmography. Next few months, will go in sourcing some of them.

More posts on you will follow.

10 comments:

Abhishek Tupe said...

I agree to this. I watched it on a bigger screen when it was screened by Vikalp at Alliance Francaise. I am trying to get a copy of this documentary, do you know where can I get it??

Ninan said...

Watched it last night in Delhi. Great camera work; had no idea Ranjan's the best, so thank you for this post.

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Anonymous said...

I, too, saw the documentary on NDTV...and that scene in which the girls dance..left the same effect..

Anonymous said...

This is extremely late i know, but does anyone know where i could get a copy of the lou majaw documentary?

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