Subrata Mitra is one of the most famous cinematographers in Bollywood, who revolutionized the use of light to create a new standard of film making. Subrata Mitra`s name is considered among one of the most talented cinematographers in Bollywood. Subrata Mitra showed his audience how the proper use of light could create a romantic or even poetic effect for the movie.
Subrata Mitra was born in the year 1930 to Bengali parents. Since his childhood days, Subrata Mitra was fascinated with cinema. His aim in life had been to either become an architect or a cinematographer.
Subrata Mitra`s biggest break came in 1950 when the movie The River was shot in Calcutta by the great Jean Renoir. Subrata managed to get special permission to watch the shooting. While watching the shoot, Subrata Mitra learned a lot about the lighting, movement of camera and actors.
His second stroke of luck came when he met Satyajit Ray on the sets of the movie. Subrata Mitra described in detail what he had learned from the sets. Thus, when Satyajit Ray decided to make his first movie `Pather Panchali`, he approached Subrata Mitra to involve him in the photography for the film. The movie went on to become one of the most famous films to have ever been produced. His collaboration with Satyajit Ray became a strong bond after the movie, which lasted for the next 15 years and yielded production of 10 movies.
Subrata Mitra was the first person to have created the effects of bouncing lights. In the movie Aparajito which was released in the year 1956, Subrata Mitra had to create the effects of a skylight inside a closed studio. It was here that he was hit by the brainstorm of using a framed painter white cloth over the set. The cloth resembled a patch of sky. Subrata Mitra then arranged studio lights below to bounce off the fake sky. This led to the illumination of real skylight-type effect. Subrata Mitra came up with this idea a full 10 years before its invention was claimed by an American Cinematographer named Sven Nykvist.
Subrata Mitra worked on a number of Merchant Ivory Productions during the 1960s, The Householder in the year 1963, Shakespeare Wallah in 1965, The Guru in 1969 and Bombay Talkie in 1970. He also won a National award for his contribution to the film New Delhi Times. Subrata Mitra passed away on 8th December, 2001 in Kolkata.
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