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Best Indian Cinematographers - K K Mahajan

Updated on January 30, 2015

K K Mahajan (2 October 1944 – 13 July 2007)

A young person very interested in sports, almost accidentally landed up in the acclaimed "Film and Television Institute of India (FTII)" and graduated in cinematography in 1966 with a gold medal.

K K Mahajan
K K Mahajan

K.K.Mahajan's first film is his graduation film in FTII called The Glass Pane (1966) which is Kumar Shahani’s avant garde film. After this, he worked on a lot advertising films, short films and documentaries most notably the documentary films by Shyam Benegal.

On seeing his graduation film, one of the most acclaimed director of India's new wave cinema, Mrinal Sen offered him Bhuvan Shome (1969) which is considered as a landmark film of India. During the same year, K.K.Mahajan worked in Basu Chatterjee's debut film Sara Akash (1969).

Despite his first film, he won the National Film Award for Best Cinematography for Sara Akash (1969). Also, Mahajan become the regular cinematographer for Mrinal Sen and Basu Chatterjee.

Along with Sara Akash, K.K.Mahajan won National award four times.

Sara Akash (1969)

In this first part of the film Sara Akash, Mahajan shines through his versatility.

Be it the opening sequence where Agra is shown in almost a documentary style still retaining the cinematic beauty or the realistic way an Indian wedding is shot or the lens he used for close ups.

Framing is poetic, angles are emotional and camera movements are as required.

Uski Roti (1969)

Uski Roti, considered as a seminal work of Indian New wave cinema is from another influential director of Indian parallel cinema, Mani Kaul.

Inspired by Amrita Shergill's paintings, this film has defined compositions and a 2 dimensional look just like the paintings. A fantastic explanation of the lenses used and how the subject is placed at a particular distance is given by Mahajan himself in the below link.

This is film which earned second National Film Award for Mahajan.

Maya Darpan (1970)

Another significant work of Indian parallel cinema, Maya Darpan is directed by Mahajan's friend Kumar Shahani.

This is one of the first color cinema and in the words or Mahajan, the director requested him to de-saturate the colors and did not want blue to appear in the entire film.

In this song of the film, Mahajan managed to get the colors artistic and it gives a unique mood to the film. Refer Page 10 in the below link,

This is the film which got Mahajan his third National Film Award.

Chorus (1975)

After a while of association between Mahajan and Mrinal Sen, Chorus in 1975 got him the fourth National Award.

For more on this film,

With Four National Awards for Cinematography, K.K.Mahajan is the most time winner along with Venu and Santosh Sivan.


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