As a kid, Vijey Aditya Mohan Raj would marvel at the natural and scenic beauty of Kerala, whenever he’d visit the south Indian state during his school vacations. That inspired him to take up photography as a vocation — and go on to make a mark in Hollywood. All at the young age of 25.
Mohan Raj has worked as a dailies colourist in the visual effects team of the Ben Affleck, Matt Damon-starrer ‘Air’ — a movie about how Nike came to create the Air Jordan basketball shoes. The movie, which was initially slated for release only on Amazon Prime Video, had a successful run at the US box office.
“The film (‘Air’) opened new doors to me,” Mohan Raj was quoted as saying by the Indian news portal OnManorama.
‘Air’, directed by Affleck, comprises a cast that’s headlined by Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, Jason Bateman and Chris Tucker. Affleck plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Damon, Affleck’s friend in real life for decades, portrays Sonny Vaccaro, the former Nike executive who sets out to save the basketball division of the company, which today is among its largest.
An engineer by qualification, Mohan Raj knew he had to be in films. He did his masters in cinematography at the Dodge College of Film and Arts, a prestigious institute in California, US. It was here that his interest shifted towards colour grading.
Mohan Raj believes colour grading is intrinsic to photography. “I think the art of cinematography is incomplete without colour grading,” OnManorama quoted him as saying. “I think of it to be an extension to photography.”
He also talks about he has evolved as a technician. “The more I served as a cinematographer, the more respect I started to gain for colourists,” Mohan Raj says in the interview. “I lit and framed everything perfectly on the set with the mentality that it was the last step in the process, but certain things are definitely out of control for filmmakers who depend on many other factors like the colour of the sky that can’t be touched during on-set production but could be modified in colour grading.”
This budding film technician is also involved in the Hollywood movie ‘Isabel’s Gardens’, which is expected to release in theatres next month.