Lights, camera and a star is made

From Salman to Saif to Ranveer, coal capital's Aseem Mishra has shot them all

By Praduman Choubey
  • Published 20.07.15
Aseem Mishra at his residence in Dhanbad on Sunday. Picture by Gautam Dey

He's the man who makes Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Munni look good, catches every expression flitting across their faces. He's also the man who watches the movie he shot in his hometown Dhanbad with a bunch of school friends.

Meet Aseem Mishra, the director of photography (DoP) who has shot some of Salman Khan's biggest movies in recent times, Ek Tha Tiger, Dabangg -2 and now Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

In Dhanbad since July 16 to catch up with family and friends, Mishra leaves for Mumbai on Monday, taking back fond frames.

A technocrat's son, Mishra passed Plus Two from Kendriya Vidyalaya in 1988. Then, after graduation from Delhi's Kirori Mal College, he studied cinematography in MCRC, Jamia Millia University. He had no film roots - dad L.M. Mishra retired as the deputy director general of Directorate General of Mines Safety.

His senior at MCRC Jamia, director Kabir Khan helped him get his Bollywood break in 2005. "That's when I shifted from Delhi to Mumbai," said Mishra, now among the best Bollywood DoPs.

"Talent apart, timing and luck play a huge role in one's success. A lot of talented people sit idle at home because timing and luck don't favour them," readily admits the man who in recent times also shot New York, Band Baaja Baraat, Ladies vs. Ricky Behl, Gunday and Paan Singh Tomar.

So, this Dhanbad boy is now a Bollywood insider and can hold forth on superstars like Salman Khan.

"Good actor and human being. Fantastic on sets. Cares for every crew member. Builds a warm atmosphere. A pleasure to work with him," Mishra said about Salman, sounding like a fan.

He's also a fan of travel. Location shoots apart, travel is his passion. "I've worked all across the world as a cinematographer in these 23 years, including the small screen in the initial 13 years. But, I loved the locales of Mardin in south-eastern Turkey and Cuba, both to shoot Ek Tha Tiger," he said.

But, his most favourite place is Housing Colony, Dhanbad. "Though my ancestral place is Basti, Uttar Pradesh, I feel very comfortable in Dhanbad where I was born and brought up."

"Watching my work with my buddies in Dhanbad was amazing," he said, referring to watching Bajrangi Bhaijaan at Inox Dhanbad with 25 friends from school on July 17.

He fondly remembers film screenings at Railway Club in Dhanbad. "As a teen, I watched classics there, a lot of the masters like Satyajit Ray. My interest in cinema was born there," Mishra, who paints and clicks B&W pictures even today, said. "I love Sven Vilhem Nykvist, the Swede cinematographer, for his lighting."

He's very encouraging of youngsters from small towns.

"The shift from analog to digital makes cinematography a good career opportunity. But one must have aesthetic sense and aptitude for photography," Mishra said.

His next offering is Phantom, a film on counter-terrorism directed by Kabir Khan, starring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif, likely to release in August. Clearly, this Dhanbad boy is on a roll.

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