The CEO says, ‘All the cinematography that I have learned is self-taught’
By Arijit Roy: Dr Suvajeet Duttagupta is a cinematographer and is currently the CEO of his startup, Surrogate, an advanced virtual communications platform that allows artists, brands, and their fans to enter into a futuristic virtual space, giving them the ability to connect, engage and interact with audiences without any geographical barriers.
The Apeejay Panchsheel Park alumnus’ career path is a reminder to all that there are no boundaries when in life.
Dr. Duttagupta first pursued a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and then went on to complete his PhD from IIT Bombay. After such an impressive academic progression, he chose to follow his passion – cinematography and is today, successfully managing his startup venture.
In an interesting interview, the Apeejay alumnus from the batch of 2004 advises students to practice the craft of cinematography as much as they can and also reminds them that life is all about fluidity and movement. Edited excerpts:
When I was doing my Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from RV College in Bangalore, I still was not very sure about what I wanted to do in life.
Then while I was pursuing my PhD from IIT Bombay, I needed something that would take my mind off the stress of workload.
It was then that photography became that one passion for me and over the years, I got more and more interested in photography, videography and began working in that direction. And yes, I did manage to finish my PhD as well (laughs).
How did you then join the business field?
After my PhD, I started working with my friends who had their own studios. I was shooting projects with them and also shooting some of my personal projects.
Then before the pandemic, we decided to focus more on Surrogate and it made a priority ahead of the shoots.
We were all working from home during the pandemic and we got to do some interesting projects on the Metaverse, where people joined from different corners of the world. Currently, we are focused on expanding the project with a desire to go ahead in the field of education.
Tell us about your oeuvre of work as a cinematographer?
I edited a short film for a friend. It was on the LGBTQ community. It was displayed as the main film in a few festivals and it even went on to bag three awards.
How did a chemical engineer go into such a diverse field?
In school, I spent a lot of time in the instrument room. I also enjoyed Math and won a few awards for Math Olympiads. It was a balance of both the creative and technical side for me. Gradually, one took over the other.
What advice would you give to a student at Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park who is interested in cinematography?
Practice it! All the cinematography that I have learned is self-taught. I made friends from FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) and other film schools.
I spent a lot of time on YouTube learning the craft. I was networking through my friends. The world through networking is very small.
So you get to meet and talk to people who are doing the same thing you want to do. It helps a lot. People shouldn’t be stuck ki ‘engineer hi banna hai’!
Please tell our readers about some of your best memories from your school days?
School life had a lot of things happening throughout. Being a Prefect, a part of all the events and then being friends with the whole batch, it was so spectacular. Most of the teachers were so welcoming and warm, it felt as if we were taught by friends.
What are your next projects?
At the moment, I am just focusing on my startup. The shooting has reduced a lot. Our current target is focusing on medical colleges.
When the first or second year students are working on topics such as human anatomy, they don’t get to go to a hospital a lot or experiment as much.
We want to create a 3-D model where they can join through a headset and a personal computer and they would be able to replicate the surgeries or at least learn better about the human body. That’s our main target, to reach a few medical colleges and some of the hospitals.
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