Thanks to Ajay Devgan, one of our most talented cinematographers, Aseem Bajaj, was in England this June to shoot an independent British film.
"It's a British production called The Dreaming Spires directed by Shamim Sarif. It's about the first American boy Joseph Connors who came to Oxford University to serve as a reader to a blind British female professor," says Aseem who has served as DOP to Bollywood films as varied as Chameli and Golmaal.
And to think The Dreaming Spires might have never happened for Aseem! He explains, "After U Me Aur Hum, I was supposed to shoot Ajay Devgan's next directorial project. But now he's busy with Rohit Shetty's and Milan Luthria's films. He's also doing Priyadarshan's next. So, that left the rest of the year free for me."
Earlier Aseem had served as DOP on Shamim Sarif's I Can't Think Straight, a semi-autobiographical film about lesbianism which starred Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth. "But that was a partly Indian film in the sense that it dealt with the life of Indian characters. The Dreaming Spires has no Indian characters."
This time the casting was far more impeccable. Says Aseem, "In I Can't Think Straight, the accents of the two principal leads were all wrong. This time we're being very careful. Since The Dreaming Spires is an independent production, the budget is merely 200,000 pounds. So we couldn't afford big stars."
Aseem, who's currently shooting his wife Leena Yadav's Teen Patti, is naturally kicked about the British project. "I don't know whether I'm the first Indian DOP doing a full-fledged British production. But other DOPs like Madhu Ambat and Santosh Sivan have shot international projects. I'm happy to join their ranks," says Aseem who has recently shot a short-film on child abuse.
"It's an 18-minute British film on child abuse as seen through the eyes of a 21-year old man, who has grown up with memories of murdering his mother and crucifying his abusive father. He kills both the parents because while the father abused him the mother would watch and even encourage the abuse."
The film entitled Dissociation is directed by a young filmmaker Ish Thapar who's the son of the famed documentary maker Navin Thapar.
Says Aseem, "The film is obviously based on a real life incident. When I asked the director, he said it was a friend's story. I'm just happy doing something that talks about a very real incident and how it scars the individual."