The Eyes Have It

His eyes are his most striking feature. A keen glacial blue, they look like they can see through everything and everyone. On a warm Friday afternoon, V Babasaheb,

a 97-year-old cinematographer or director of photography, who has worked in the Indian film industry for over five decades, sits in his house in Miraj, about 180 km from Pune.

Dressed in a well-worn blue sweater and checked blue lungi, Babasaheb pushes his hearing-aid deeper into his left ear, as he tries to recall snippets from his past. Babasaheb worked as a cameraperson and cinematographer or director of photography for about 30 Hindi films, including Ganga Jumna, Leader, Aan Milo Sajna and Aapki Kasam.

As a young boy, Babasaheb would sketch and draw for hours. In fact, his first job was at a Miraj-based photo studio run by his drawing teacher. Later, his father, who was a railways employee, found Babasaheb a job with a telephone company, which required him to dig holes to get telephone poles fixed, from Miraj to Pune, in the late '30s. When he arrived in Pune, he contacted his relative, E Mohammed, a noted cameraman of his time, who was working with the Prabhat

Studio, in the early '40s. He moved top Mumabi and did several odd jobs at film studios, learning the basics of photography on the side in Mumbai. "I remember working with a young Bal Thackeray at Famous Studio in Bombay. He worked as a cartoonist with us," says Babasaheb, who leads a retired life with his eldest son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Miraj.

The first big opportunity came his way in 1948, with Girls School, a film directed by Amiya Chakravarty, director, screenwriter and producer of films like Daag, Patita and Jwar Bhata. "The film starred Geeta Bali and Sajjan. After all these years of learning camera basics from my guru Surendra Pai, I

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