Modhura Palit was at a shoot when an email flashed on her mobile screen. She ignored it, thinking it was spam and continued filming.
It wasn’t until the members of Indian Women Cinematographers’ Collective reprimanded her for not responding to the email that she realised what she had received.
The mail was an invitation to the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival. Modhura had been selected to receive the prestigious Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography award this year.
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She is the first Indian to receive the Angénieux Encouragement Award at the Cannes Film Festival 2019.
From the day the email arrived till the moment she received the award on stage, surrounded by veterans of cinema, it has all been a dream sequence straight out of a movie for the 29-year-old.
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Modhura distinctly remembers every the second of 25 May–the day she got the award–and yet the whole experience is out of focus. Speaking of the experience, she recalls, “… it hit me that in the next few hours, my work would get global recognition.”
As the ceremony was hosted in French and English, it took her some time to process why a French actress was looking at her while making an announcement. “The walk till the stage and sharing the stage with stalwarts was a surreal experience. Even now, when I think about the day, I get goosebumps.”
Besides the recognition and award, Modhura was also given a camera lens (from the Optimo or Optimo Anamorphic range) on loan for one of her projects. Modhura is saving it for a deserving project.
Breaking Into A Male-Dominated Profession
Modhura’s love for visual poetry stems from her childhood.
While growing up, I was never interested in studies, and from the very beginning I knew I was not cut out for a corporate job,” she adds.
Modhura’s journey with the camera started during her college days in St Xaviers. As part of her curriculum, she tried her hand at professional videography, and since then, there was no looking back.
A tall and sturdy man lifting a heavy camera and running around on the sets is usually the image that comes to our mind when we imagine a cinematographer. For decades, a woman’s role in the film making process has remained confined to a heroine who adds glamour to the 70 mm screen.
Although she graduated from a premier film institute, getting work and most importantly, being taken seriously by producers and directors was a daunting task for Modhura.
Fortunately, she has not faced any biases on any of her movie sets. There are creative differences, but no one has picked a fight because of her gender.