Tuesday, November 23, 2010

AT the LV Prasad Studios: Soaking up moments of history






Let me get back to happenings closer to home. Not many passersby notice the LV Prasad Studios or the LV Prasad Film & TV Academy on Arunachalam Road in Saligramam. Hardly anybody knows that not many years ago, masters such as Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen had walked down this stretch, from the studios to the lab, carrying reel spools and stuff.

I love old times and anything to do with heritage, so it came as a bonus when the Namma Arcot Road coordinators got K. Hariharan, director of the Academy, to take a group of heritage enthusiasts around the studios and describe how it all was a few decades ago.

Hariharan is as unassuming as they come, built of sterner stuff as he must be, because he is hands-on with training students at the Academy. What is remarkable about him is that he is a fund of knowledge, not only about film-making but also about the history of the place where he spends most part of his working day. He must be one of the finest teachers of cinema because it’s clear he likes what he’s doing, he loves talking to students and people in general, and he’s clued in to the past and present, views it all in context, and is keen to ensure that students understand not just the technology of film-making but much, much more.

A product of the Film and Television Institute of India, Hariharan might have been born with a ‘silver spoon’ in his mouth, at least judging by the people that surrounded him when he was small. His father was vice-president of Eastman Kodak and top cinematographers would come to Hariharan’s house; even the making of the great Ray’s Charulatha was discussed here. Suffice here to say that Hariharan grew up probably in awe of his father, soaked in all that he saw and heard and later carved a niche for himself. He of course bagged the national award for the Best Tamil Film - Ezhavathu Manithan.

Despite all that and other honours, Hariharan has remained rooted to the ground. Even today, he remembers with gratitude people like L.V. Prasad who inspired him. Indeed, Hariharan told the group how humbling he had felt receiving his national award and sharing stage space with Prasad who was presented the Dada Saheb Phalke Award the same day. It is in the fitness of things that Hariharan heads the Academy set up by Prasad’s son Ramesh.

Although there was intermittent rain, there were at least 60 people who arrived well in time. Even Krishna Kumar, the busy GM of Hotel Green Park, made it a point to be present though he arrived late. The pictures here show the early comers; Gargi Advaithi introducing Hariharan before the tour commenced; people catching every word; and the master taking charge.

No comments: