After spectacular camerawork in Barfi! and Goliyon Ki RaasLeela Ram-Leela, cinematographer Ravi Varman once again displayed his mastery over the medium in his latest, the Imtiaz Ali-directed Tamasha.
Much of the film’s first half is set in the picturesque French island of Corsica but Varman raised it above typical tourist postcard prettiness by bathing the two stars, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, in earthy and elemental hues and locating the island’s relevance in the laissez faire state of their minds.
You have the tableau of Padukone clicking Kapoor who is sitting isolated atop a rocky crag in the distance, while the mountains fuse into the sunset in the background … and what emerges is one of the most iconic cinematic images in the last year. Once the story shifts to India, the visuals provide emotional clues with the frigid and foreboding tones of the corporate world which Kapoor relapses into.
Varman can create great visuals, but he also has a special knack for focusing the viewer’s attention on the protagonist’s faces in crucial scenes, playing with the light and shade till the scenes predominant emotion grabs you. In his experienced hands, style is never allowed to subsume substance.