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Murthy first cinematographer to win Phalke award

Muralidhara Khajane

PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

V. K. Murthy

MYSORE: Mysore-born V.K. Murthy has become the first cinematographer to be chosen for the Dada Saheb Phalke Award.

Murthy is best remembered for his lighting techniques in Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam, as he crafted some of the finest images in Indian cinema.

His "beam shot" in the Waqt ne kiya Kya Hassen Sitam sequence from Pyassa is considered a classic in celluloid history. Inspired by a light boy who was reflecting light with a mirror, he got that parallel beam using a pair of ordinary mirrors. This won him the Filmfare Best Cinematographer Award for 1959.

Born in 1923, Mr. Murthy did his Diploma in Cinematography in Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic, Bangalore, in the first batch (1943-46). He worked in all of Guru Dutt's films. He was the cinematographer for the country's first cinemascope movie, Kaagaz Ke Phool.

In an interview with this correspondent during his last visit to Mysore, Murthy said: "I met Guru Dutt for the first time while working for the Famous Studios as an assistant cameraman. It all began when I suggested a difficult shot, which Guru Dutt said his cameraman would not be able to execute. I requested him to ask his cameraman to allow me to attempt the shot. Guru Dutt allowed me to make two or three attempts. But I managed the shot in the first take. After pack-up, he asked me to work for the film. I told him that it was not right to desert a cinematographer in the midst of a film and I would work with him on his next film."

Murthy worked for Hoovu Hannu, a classic in Kannada cinema, directed by Rajendra Singh Babu. He created some of the most significant shots in the black and white era. While training in London to work on colour films, he worked with the crew of The Guns of Navarone.

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