A B-town outlier, Satya Rai has earlier shot award-winning offbeat films including Andhe Ghode Da Daan (2011), for which he won the National Award for Best Cinematography, but he tasted Bollywood success with Aligarh. His framing of shots is intelligent and thought-provoking.
In the scene in which protagonist Manoj Bajpayee sits on his bed and watches the world rumble past outside his glass window, the camera eloquently captures his sense of alienation as an ‘outsider’ in a new city. Rai is not one to force the camera into the viewer’s consciousness either.
The camera stays affixed on Bajpayee’s face for long stretches when he opens his heart during a boat ride with Rajkummar Rao. And during the sequence in which Bajpayee listens to Lata Mangeshkar’s song, ‘Aap ki nazron ne samjha,’ playing on his music system, the mellow light and the near-motionless camera conveys his loneliness without a single line of dialogue.
Given his obvious talent, it will be interesting to see what Rai achieves in his forthcoming film Ghoomketu, which stars Anurag Kashyap and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.