Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar & Inian | Coordination : Inian | Camera : Balaji & Pandian | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
Home > Interviews
The teaser of 180, directed by adman Jayendra is being noticed for its stylized visuals and its warmth. The man responsible for this effect is cinematographer Balasubramaniem who had worked in films like Pithamagan and Azhagiya Thamizh Magan. Catch Balasubramaniem in conversation with Jyothsna Bhavanishankar and Inian.

Your journey into film industry

I worked as P C Sreeram’s assistant for 5 years and after Kurudi Punal, I started off independently. Kamal sir gave my first opportunity which was a Hindi film under his production. Later I did Vattakudi Hiraniyan in Tamil. From then on I have done around 20 films till now. Recently I completed my work in 180 directed by Jayendra.

I see Kamal sir’s films at least 50


Working with P C Sreeram and Kamal

I worked with PC sir in 7 films, out of which 3 are Kamal sir’s. Kamal is very vigilant in sets and having observed me for quite some time and after having taken the recommendations from PC sir, he gave me his film. I feel very proud and happy to have worked in a production venture of Kamal sir as I am his ardent fan and see his films at least 50 times.

Starting out independent

After starting out on my own, I did the Hindi version of Magalir Mattum. Unfortunately the film could not be released for some reasons. And later I did Vattakudi Hiraniyan, a period film, directed by Vincent Selva, which was completely shot in my native village in my house. This film was different from its contemporaries and was much spoken about. I did many films afterwards the prominent ones being Pithamagan, M Kumaran, S/O Mahalakshmi, Thambi and Azhagiya Thamizh Magan.


I have done 180 in digital format. Jayendra, director of 180 is a good friend of PC sir and they are partners in JS Advertising. I used to take up assignments that PC sir was not able to do and during this sojourn, had learnt many techniques from Jayendra. I have also photographed Jayendra’s advertisements.

On Jayendra

Initially I was afraid to work with Jayendra but later on enjoyed the stint. Jayendra has done around 500 to 600 ad films and he is the numero uno in this field. Although he is experienced in the ad world, he behaved as though he was doing his first project while directing 180. He gave me a lot of freedom in 180 and was very receptive to my ideas. Initially to work in Red camera was difficult but later I got the hang of it and it was a challenging and an enjoyable task. I can say that 180 has come out very well.

I was afraid to work with


Music will be one of the major

highlights in 180

Music and songs in 180

Music will be one of the major highlights in 180. Jayendra has conceived each song for a specific situation. Malayalam music director Sharreth has done an extraordinary job in 180. When Jayendra told me that he wanted to do a song sequence in 1500 frames, I was skeptical as it is an uphill task to do an entire song in 1500 frames and more so choreographing the sequence was also difficult. Dinesh master was roped in to do the dance movement and he was very enthusiastic as this is something new and challenging. The song has come out very well and I am sure it will be liked by the audience as well.

On the stylish and different visuals of 180

The story of 180 happens in US and India. It begins in Varanasi and moves to Chennai and US. Hence we decided that the portion in US will have stylish visuals and the ones in India will have a raw appeal. We wanted them to be strikingly different. The main reason for 180 to have the specific look is Jayendra who never interfered with my work. Kevin Shah who is an expert in Red camera and has an experience of more than 30 years on the grading side has done the color correction. He was also much open to my ideas and cooperated very well. It was very useful as Kevin did whatever I wanted. Kevin Shah is a major plus for 180.

Kevin Shah is a huge plus for



Another best thing that happened to 180 is Siddharth who comes to Tamil after Ayudha Ezhuthu. His performance is simply mind blowing. Siddharth can switch on and switch off emotions at the drop of a hat. Nithya Menon and Priya Anand are also in the cast who have done a good job in 180.

What is technically different in 180?

We have worked in Red in 180. Generally people avoid using Red camera. Highlights will not have the quality of film format and outdoor shooting is difficult in Red. But you will find many outdoor scenes that dispel these notions in 180. Of course, it is difficult to shift from film to digital but when tried, it can give good results.

We have gone in for pastel

shades and soft lighting in 180

Is 180 your best work?

In my cinematographic career, Pithamagan was different for its story, Azhagiya Thamizh Magan and M Kumaran, S/O Mahalakshmi for its colorful look and Thambi for its mood portrayal and lighting. In Jayamkondan we went for real natural colors without much enhancement but increased the contrast level through costumes and background selection. In 180, you will not find such features as we have gone in for pastel shades and soft lighting. 180 will stand out for its unique style when compared to other films.

Role of a director in enhancing cinematography

A director plays an important role in enhancing the cinematography. Firstly there should be adequate freedom for the cinematographer to execute his ideas. There should be good rapport between the two. A good director can only bring out a good cinematographer.

A good director can only bring

out a good cinematographer

Role of an editor in enhancing cinematography

In 180, editing will be smooth and jerk free. Jayendra is a good editor. I can recall an assignment that Jayendra asked me to do for Sankara Eye Hospital. He just asked me to shoot whatever I felt like and I also followed his directions. Finally when I saw the film, after he did the editing, I was completely taken aback by the end product. Such are Jayendra’s skills as an editor. For 180, Kishore who worked in films like Aadukalam was roped in to do the editing job. Kishore was encouraged to bring his ideas on to the table and Jayendra fine tuned it. The transition of one scene to the next will be seamless in 180.

How did 180 happen?

P C Sreeram was to do 180 but he could not take it up because of his prior commitments. It was P C sir who recommended me to Jayendra and I feel it is a great honor when my guruji proposed my name to a project that he was supposed to do. I did not bother when I missed a few films due to this. The thought that crossed my mind whenever I was setting up a frame was that I should satisfy my guru and Jayendra sir. I think I have justified his faith. I hope he likes my work in 180.

Oru Kal Oru Kannadi

When I watched Rajesh’s Boss Engira Bhaskaran in Kamala theatre, I was astonished by the audience’s response who enjoyed the film thoroughly. Oru Kal Oru Kannadi will have more humor than BEB. After working in a digital format, I thought it would be a good idea to work in film set-up and hence I agreed to do OKOK and shooting is going on now.

Pithamagan gave me an imposing

visiting card

Bala and Pithamagan

Pithamagan gave me an imposing visiting card. When Bala narrated the story, I found it very different especially the film’s beginning in a graveyard. Director Bala is known for his unusual treatment of subjects and I consider myself to be blessed to have worked in Pithamagan. Added to this, there was the combination of Suriya and Vikram. We shot in Theni, Bala sir’s hometown. The entire shoot happened in one street. We created the court there and also the jail there. But you can never make this out in the film. The horse chase scene was canned in a place where there was a dried up canal and there were houses on the street. But the feel that you get in the film is that of a forest. It was Bala sir who suggested the spot for the scene where Vikram takes a body atop a hill, burns and sings. Along with a few light men, I went up to the small hillock and summoned the rest of the crew. There was no proper pathway to climb down and it was a difficult task. But we managed it. Vikram also was very cooperative and was open to ideas.

Favorite shots from your films

I always give in my best and enjoy every shot of mine. In Pithamagan, there was adequate source and now it is 180. There is a hospital shot in 180 which had to be canned with available lights as we cannot light a hospital according to our needs. Same way, the camera was always moving in the hospital sequence and I have to ensure there is no reflection of light on the glass surfaces. This was challenging for me but it has come out very well.

Tags : Balasubramaniem, 180, Siddharth, Pithamagan
Everything about Tamil movies, Tamil Actors, Tamil Actresses, Tamil Cinema & Kollywood 2004-2010 ; Privacy Policy ; Terms of Service