UNDERSTANDING THE CINEMATOGRAPHY OF JOHNNY
Johnny is a 2003 Telugu sports drama film written and directed by Pawan Kalyan. This was considered as a biggest box office disappointment in the career of Pawan Kalyan. But in terms of filmmaking this is one of the technological advancement in Telugu cinema. There’s a lot of modernism in Johnny Cinematography which Telugu cinema has ever seen before. The film is ahead of its time and that’s where it failed to connect to the audience. Yet the film has got the critical appreciation for the soundtrack, stunt choreography, cinematography, and Pawan Kalyan’s sensible acting.
Here’s what we need to understand about Johnny Cinematography:
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any good film. Cinematographers Chota K Naidu and Shyam Palav have followed a realistic and natural approach for lighting the locations in Johnny. One could easily think each scene could have been shot with natural light where it wasn’t. The most special thing about the lighting of this film is – Geetha (Renu Desai) is always seen with the backlight which gave an angelic look to her in the film. This backlight always separates her from the background making her very unique and special. From the beginning, this unique backlight clearly emphasises that the main conflict of the film revolves around her.
Most of our cinema has a tendency to frame the subject in the centre of the frame. But Johnny has that unique special sense in framing of the subject. Each frame follows the “Rule of thirds”, which means the frame is broken down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so as to have 9 parts. This grid observes four important parts of the image that subjects are considered to be placed in these points of interest in the intersections or along the lines. This theory states that the elements placed in those points of interest will have a balanced frame and enables the viewer to interact more naturally. A study also states that when viewing images, our eyes will naturally go to one of the intersection points rather than centre of the frame.
The Production design, costumes and realistic taking has given this film a fresh look in terms of framing.
3. Camera Movement:
We can observe two kinds of camera movements in Johnny. A unique stylistic fast paced camera movement for scenes including only Johnny (Pawan Kalyan). This represents the energy, speed, power and his attitude. This also conveys that he has a very stylistic and quick approach towards everything. Whereas the camera movements related to Geetha (Renu Desai) are very slow and poetic. Whenever there is a scene comprising of Johnny and Geetha, the pace of the camera slows down creating a soothing visual. This conveys that Johnny’s biggest weakness is Geetha and also represents the other sensible angle in him.
Camera movements like track in/out were used in such a way that they could convey the emotion of the scene.
There is a scene where Johnny, after his marriage, is standing in the balcony watching the sunset. He was framed in a long shot and as soon as Geetha enters the frame from right side and walks towards Johnny, the camera slowly tracks in towards the couple. Finally the camera stops exactly when Johnny grabs her into his arms framed in mid close. This track in shot conveys that their love is more important and greater than any other thing in the world.
There is a counter track out shot in the later part of the film. It was revealed that Geetha has cancer. She bursts out with Johnny that she wants to live longer. Then Johnny takes her into arms and camera starts tracking out and ends with frame within a frame composition making them smaller in size conveying their confusion and inability to deal with the problem.
Probably Johnny is the only Telugu cinema which has used Time-lapse technique comprised with normal shots edited in fast pace. This was used portray the passage of time with a longer run time and perfect meaning. This was used with a background score in the pre-climax to convey the confusion, fear, love and his efforts to rescue his loved ones.
The complimentary colours played a predominant role in the production design and costume design. There is always a play of Blue and Orange or Red and Green colour combinations in the frame. The colours which complement each other will create a colour contrast in the frame which makes the subject pop out. These four colours were seen in each and every frame as a part of production design or costume design. This is the most basic technique in colour theory which works out the best. The colours in Johnny have very subtle saturation and colour contrast levels.