Priya Seth on life and underwater cinematography - Part I

Priya Seth, one of the few female cinematographers in the country, on career, life and underwater cinematography
Priya Seth, one of the few female cinematographers in India
Priya Seth, one of the few female cinematographers in India

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- BY ANISHA GAKHAR

Sitting in her quaint Bandra home, I felt a prodigious amount of satiation whilst absorbing the fact - that there are women in our industry who have helped skew the cinematography landscape in India considerably. Priya Seth’s living room was adorned with a neatly-arranged rack of books. Her love for reading and her zeal for cinematography, have helped her carve a niche for herself. Priya Seth is an Indian cinematographer who has worked on several Bollywood movies, commercials and web series. Seth’s first shoot was the much-loved music video, Tera Mera Pyaar, debuting Nimrat Kaur. After the success of the song, Seth started venturing into advertising projects and commercials. Eventually, the Naseeruddin Shah starrer, Barah Aana, directed by Raja Menon, came her way. She was highly acclaimed for her work in the 2016 movie Airift, which she shot in merely 49 days.

Now, cinematography is my life. Looking elsewhere was never a choice. It has been one long road. I have given 22 years to my work, and I don’t intend to stop any soon!

She is also well-known for her underwater cinematography stints, an area of work not treaded by many of her likes in the industry. Having given over two decades to the industry, she has many movies under her name including, Barah Aana, Airlift and Chef. She has shot some intriguing commercials including those for Parachute, Mountain Dew, Oral B, Dove and Godrej, amongst others. She is currently working on a web series, the shooting for which starts soon.

Priya Seth shooting underwater

Priya Seth shooting underwater

THE START
Seth always wanted to be associated with film-making. She wasn’t sure of whether she wanted to pursue cinematography, but something within the purview of making films. She couldn’t get admission into Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). She decided to pursue a three-month short course in New York University. After completing the course, she came back to India and started working with Gopal Shah, a senior cinematographer in the Indian advertising fraternity. That’s when Seth step foot into cinematography as her career, and there has been no looking back since. “Before I turned eighteen, I had no idea about what I wanted to do with my life. But once I figured out what I wanted to do, it was just this and nothing else. Now, cinematography is my life. Looking elsewhere was never a choice. It has been one long road. I have given 22 years to my work, and I don’t intend to stop any soon!” exclaimed Seth.

Priya Seth, engrossed in her art

Priya Seth, engrossed in her art

Seth is a self-taught cinematographer, who believes in the concept of ‘continuous education.’ She attributed the constant process of learning, to reading, experiences, study and research. She also believes that one must keep pace with changing times. “What a cinematographer has done twenty years back is of no value today, unless he/she is abreast with today’s trends. The fundamentals back then were different from what they are now,” explained Seth.

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Priya Seth on life and underwater cinematography - Part I
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Priya Seth on life and underwater cinematography - Part II
Priya Seth, one of the few female cinematographers in the country, on career, life and underwater cinematography...
Priya Seth on life and underwater cinematography - Part III
Priya Seth, one of the few female cinematographers in the country, on career, life and underwater cinematography...

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