Veteran cinematographer Ramachandra Babu passed away in Kozhikode on Saturday. He was 72 years old.
Ramachandra Babu, a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, has been working as a cinematographer of feature films since 1971, the year he finished his course. He has prominently worked in the Malayalam film industry, but has also worked in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu films.
He has worked with renowned directors such as MT Vasudevan Nair, KG George, John Abraham, Bharathan, Hariharan and IV Sasi among others in Malayalam; Mani Ratnam in Tamil; KS Rami Reddy in Telugu; and so on. He has worked in over 125 films and received several awards including the Kerala State award for Best Cinematography four times. Some of his most noted works are for the films Nirmalyam, Dweepu, Itha Ivide Vare, Rathinirvedam, Chamaram, Nidhra, Yavanika, Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha, Ghazal, Kanmadam and Yugapurushan.
He was also the founder of the Indian Society of Cinematographers.
Born in the Chengalpattu district of Tamil Nadu, Ramachandra Babu did his graduation in Chemistry at the Loyola College in then Madras before going to the Pune Film Institute to study cinematography. At the institute he made friends with future directors like KG George, John Abraham and Balu Mahendra. The first film he worked for is Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile, which was also the debut of John Abraham. He also did cinematography for the debut directorial of MT Vasudevan Nair (Nirmalyam) and KG George (Swapnadanam).
He won his first state award for Ramu Kariat’s Dweepu in 1977. The later awards came for Rathinirvedam (1978), Chamaram (1980) and Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha (1989). He began work when cinema was still in black and white and saw the transition to colour. He shot the first cinemascope film of South India, Alavuddinum Albutha Vilakkum, directed by IV Sasi. He also shot the first 70 mm film in Malayalam, Padayottam, directed by Jijo Punnoose.
Ramachandra Babu’s book Celluloid Swapnatakan had just been released this December.