The Art of Polishing Cinema

If you are a 90s kid, then one thing in particular about the song Ennavalae Adi Ennavale from Kaadhlan would have surely appealed to you. 

Having chosen a filmmaking course as a vocational course in my final year of UG, in one of my editing classes my tutor introduced me to something called ‘Colours’. It was when we were discussing the colour tab of the editing software, that I was able to resolve a query that I had in my mind for a very long time. I don't remember when it started but on viewing the “Ennavale” song from Kaadhlan, I always wanted to own that colour changing dress that Nagma wears in the song. I remember torturing my parents and our textile shopkeeper for that dress and creating a big scene. But only on the day of the DI class did I learn that it was just editing. From then on, I spent ample time exploring that colours tab in davinci and enjoyed the magic it created. I even had a competition with my friend to see who’d come first where I was colouring a footage and she was applying nail polish. Having won that silly bet, every time I polish my nail, I remember the pure joy that the process of polishing the raw footage on DaVinci gave me.

This act of polishing colours to a film adds meaning to it and has something to do with the psychology of the viewers too. On looking deeper into “colour theory” (just a trivia- this theory is one of the major strategies used by the the organisers of the Big Boss team to manipulate the contestants,  the colour of a film sets the mood of the film, defines the authenticity of the film and in fact conveys the impact of the film to the audience. It's of great use to define the elements of the story - the place, period, time, season, genre, mood and so. Especially when a film is set in a certain period, the polishing of the footage plays a significant role. Most period films like Asuran, Mahanati, KGF and Subramaniyapuram have a unique colour pattern that defines the period to which the movies belong. Apparently when the polishing is not inch- perfect, there comes a lag like it happened in Thaanaa Serndha Koottam.

The colour palette of a film helps in justifying the genre of the film. For instance when you look at a movie like Eeram, I feel that more than anything it was the colour of the movie that justified it as a thriller one. As a child, everytime I looked at the bright red in films used to indicate blood and murders, I’d freak out!
The colour tone used in a film is used to convey a number of things.

Let's take the case of Thadam. One of finest twists in the movie is foreshadowed from the beginning through colours. Ezhil’s portion was always polished in cool colours like blue, Kavin’s with warm colours like, yellow, orange and red. 

In a movie like Premam, I felt that the story was told through the colours. The difference in the colours between various stages of life, the escalation in the saturation and the RGB value at each stage communicated the maturity that Nivin’s attains with each failed attempt in ‘Premam’

Talking about colours one inevitable mention is Selvaraghavan and his use of colours in movies like Pudhupettai and NGk. While all these colours were mostly lit, one particular fight sequence where the entire frame would be toned with less saturation except for the blood to be coloured in bright red. It is undoubtedly one of the most iconic films in the film. It’s well choreographed and is performed by a highly talented Dhanush. All this complementing an eye-catching DI work. This scene with simple yet cerebral nuances of colour conveys a metaphoric tale in itself, concealing the plot with it.

There are many such notable scenes in several movies where a formal enhancement of the colour mix makes the shot memorable. For example, the shot of Ved and Tara sitting in Corsica's countryside or the shot of Thalaivar in Thalapathi, when he gets to know about his mother. I don’t say these shots are remarkable because of the work of the DI Colourist. But the beauty that colouring and grading adds to a film is just like the beauty that painting our nails adds to a 


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