Parava cinematographer Littil Swayamp talks about his exciting journey behind the lens and his future projects
Cinematographer Littil Swayamp, who made his debut with Parava, is thrilled with the reception to the film and his work. After dropping out of his designing course, the 28-year-old took up some odd jobs related to editing and costumes, before finding his calling. We talk to the Sharjah-born, Thiruvananthapuram-raised and Bangalore-based cinematographer about his journey so far and what lies ahead.
What are your current projects?
I'm working on Amal Neerad’s untitled project, which stars Fahadh Faasil and Aishwarya Lekshmi in the lead. Apart from that, there is Anjali Menon’s project with Prithviraj, Parvathy and Nazriya. The film’s title will be announced soon and it is scheduled for release on July 6. It’s the first time I'm working with Prithviraj and I love his work ethic. Both crews are fun to work with since I already know Nazriya, Parvathy and Fahadh from Bangalore Days.
What were some of the challenges you went through when shooting these films?
We had to shoot in Ooty and the weather was a menace. The rains delayed our shoots sometimes and we had to wear warm clothes. It is a bit uncomfortable to shoot in thick clothes. Being new to the field, both projects have been a learning experience for me. They have their unique challenges, but in a way that just helps me hone my skills and strive harder to achieve a good product.
Parava catapulted you to fame. Did you expect such a positive response from the public?
Parava will be very close to my heart, not because it was my debut, but because it made me a better cinematographer. Every scene in the film was carefully scripted and shot. There was a surprising challenge for the crew every day.
It was during the course of shooting that I realised that pigeon rearing is a big thing in India. People who rear them have the knowledge of the slightest of difference between the birds. Initially, I thought all the pigeons look alike but there are subtle differences between the birds, like the way they fly, their beaks, their posture and sometimes patches near their wings. Some pigeons only fly for an hour or so but there a few that fly for about 16 hours. The film had a very novel concept and I was optimistic about its success.
How was it working on Parava?
Dulquer Salmaan is a delight to work with. I had met him on the sets of Ustad Hotel and when he saw me behind the lens in Parava, he was more than just glad. Soubin Shahir and Anwar Rasheed were the pillars that held me up during the entire shoot. Anwar Rasheed is the person who roped me in since I had worked with him for some Kerala Tourism projects before. He was the one who gave me the push to pursue cinema.
The main challenge in Parava was working with the pigeons. Soubin had trained the birds for over a year in a closed terrace where they would be fed at regular intervals and were allowed to fly in the open at specific times. He had gained the trust of the birds and made sure that the entire crew was careful while shooting.
We used to talk softly as any loud noise can frighten them. There were days when we had to redo scenes as some of the birds flew away and never came back. Soubin was very particular that we not hurt the birds in any way. The shoot definitely instilled a lot of patience in me. It gave me an opportunity to explore new cameras as the film was shot with around ten different cameras.
What's the best part of shooting?
When you shoot for 50 to 100 days, there is a bond that is formed between the crew. We become a family and we become sensitive to each other’s needs and woes. I love the people involved and I love the journey. Apart from this, I like the anticipation of watching the final product. I watch it with the audience and it is interesting to see them laugh and clap during the movie.
Which is your favorite film?
My Dear Kuttichathan because when I saw it as a child, it liberated my imagination. If you are asking about the films I have worked on, every project is very different from the other, so I would say I love the uniqueness in every film.
What is your next big step?
After Parava, I think everyone has high expectations on me and I would love to take up films with a radical element. I like shooting short music videos but I would like to do more films and probably branch out into writing scripts. When I am not working on films, I generally do ads. I make sure that I'm always somewhere near the camera.