From Warangal to Shanghai

Acharya Venu is the first Indian to win the best cinematographer award at the Shanghai Film Festival

By Author  |  Published: 7th Jul 2019  12:40 amUpdated: 6th Jul 2019  11:27 pm

What started with small paintings and drawings later made him a professional photographer and, then, an international award-winning cinematographer. Beginning his journey from Parkal near Warangal, Acharya Venu has now reached Shanghai International Film Festival and is taking giant strides in the field.

Venu is the first Indian to win the best cinematographer award at the Shanghai International Film Festival. At the 22nd edition of this event which is the only competitive film festival in China approved by the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations, he received the honour in the Asian New Talent category at a star-studded ceremony.

“I have received the award for a film made in Meghalaya in Garo language titled Ma.Ama (Moan). The movie is about the director’s memories with his mother who passed away in his childhood,” says Venu. This 120-minute-long independent feature film was entirely shot in Meghalaya with a budget of just Rs 8 lakh and it travelled to various international film festivals before winning accolades out of the 2,000 entries at the Shanghai Film Festival.

Venu got the opportunity to work in the film through his senior at the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) where he pursued his Postgraduate Diploma in Motion Picture Photography, or, to put it simply, a degree in cinematography.

“When I was doing my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU), I realised photography is just not enough for me and decided to a pursue a cinematography course,” said the 34-year-old. And that is how his tryst with the motion picture began.

Before winning this prestigious award, this Warangal local worked for many corporate films, fashion films, sports promos, etc. “My first work was a video on River Ganga for Indian Water Ways; we shot it in the entire Ganga belt from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal,” said Venu. This work was assigned to him by the director after the latter was impressed by the works Venu posted on his Instagram account. He later worked for football cups, squash and tennis tournaments for promos.

Venu, who was also one of the 24 fellows selected to participate in the Asian Film Academy held at Busan in South Korea in 2013, made his Telugu film debut recently with the movie Jersey where he donned the hat of second unit cinematographer.

Also, the short movie Infected, which he made during his SRFTI days, had made an entry into various film festivals. Venu is now all set to wield his camera for an Arunachal Pradesh film and a Telugu film which will go on the floors soon. He intends to cross borders to make his mark as a cinematographer and early next year he will be the man behind the lens for a Sri Lankan feature film.

This budding cinematographer says he likes storytelling and though his career has just taken off, he wishes to hold the megaphone in the future and direct small independent films.