Danny was calm, patient but occasionally stubborn-Ishika Mohan Motwane
A man who got what he wanted is how Ishika Mohan Motwane remembers Danny Boyle
Tunali Mukherjee (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 19, 2012)
The first sentence that Danny Boyle, director of eight Academy Awards-bagging film, Slumdog Millionaire said to Ishika Mohan Motwane, best describes what her job as stills photographer for films demands of her.
“‘Glad to have you on board. Grab what you can’,” were Danny’s first words to me. I was on my own, free to capture what I fancied, and with no time to lose,” says Motwane about the 2008 film that became the darling of the Oscar jury the following year.
For her, being the silent documenter on set meant living every moment of the film, photographing during actual takes, making sure she didn’t distract actors or disrupt production.
Her favourite picture is one of Boyle lost in work while shooting a sequence at the Taj Mahal in Agra, where little Jamal Malik, the protagonist, and his brother Salim pose as tour guides in a bid to steal visitors’ shoes. The image made it to the cover of Danny Boyle: In his own words, a book by Amy Raphael, where Boyle chronicles his experience of shooting the film.
Motwane calls watching the director at work nothing less than a treat. “He was calm, patient but occasionally stubborn. He got what he wanted,” Motwane remembers.
Feeding off the British director’s passion and his cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle’s craft of visual storytelling proved a handy lesson when she began shooting husband Vikramaditya Motwane’s 2010 Hindi feature film Udaan. “With the other films, my inputs had been professional, but Udaan was tiring because I was pitching in everywhere. I couldn’t shut off at the end of the day. The film would come home to me when my husband returned,” says Motwane about the critically acclaimed project that she says pushed her emotionally, mentally and physically.
The stills photographer for Devdas, Veer-Zaara, The Forest and West Is West didn’t know she’d be taking pictures on a film set some day. When a BA in Economics didn’t bring clarity, she walked dogs for six months before she took up a course in photography at Santa Monica College in LA.
Although she has briefly assisted fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar, and knew she enjoyed capturing a moment while being prisoner to the whims of natural light, it was only after a visit to the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas in 2001, to meet her then boyfriend-now husband, that enticed her to take pictures on set.
“I realised that I loved being on set. I loved the making of, the energy, the props, the stress of not getting the exact shot you wanted and going the whole hog to get it. I loved it all,” says Motwane, who has wrapped up shooting for Lootera, starring Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha.
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