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Tanmay Chowdhary: Transforming dreams into film
From his dreams as a boy in India, this celebrated cinematographer is constantly pushing the boundaries of filmmaking.

The story sounds tragic; a boy leaves his family behind in Calcutta and dies a slow death, one which takes many years. This self-description of the transformation his life took gives a glimpse into the mind of award-winning cinematographer and filmmaker Tanmay Chowdhary. 

Of course, his youthful demise is a way of relating how he evolved from a nai?ve young man into an artist who is equal parts driven and praised by the film community for his vision. To Tanmay, it feels like he is altogether someone different than the person who shared a colonial house with twenty other family members who was expected to take part in the family copper manufacturing business. 

Telling the stories of other's lives in his films is perhaps fueled by his own incredible story which makes success seem inordinately achievable. Following the obvious path has never been desirable for Tanmay in the same manner that following the status quo of the industry has never been for him. You don't become noticed and influential by following the pack; you get there by learning your craft and then taking risks.

Tanmay found a like-minded collaborator in director Sanford Jenkins. Together, they created the film A Craftsman. This tale of a man lost in the despair of his wife's recent death provided a message for the filmmakers to present the emotional/cerebral state of such an event. Chowdhary was recognized with a number of different awards for his exceptional work on this film. These included: Best Cinematography at New York's Tide Film Festival, the Outstanding Faculty Award for Cinematography at the First Look Film Festival, and a nomination for the Student Edutes at Camerimage. 

The DP remarks, "Sanford and I started our discussions by studying old photographs, paintings, and the cinema of Michaelangelo Antonioni and Andrei Tarkovsky. We decided on a set of visual rules for the film that would help set it apart. If you're truly contributing to the art form then you have to push it forward with your own creativity that's built upon the shoulders of those you're following. It's our responsibility to add something new just as others have done. Color of November [Tanmay's follow up film] was a direct result of being inspired by other films and the confidence I got from the reception of A Craftsman."  

Color of November has a universal element that supersedes translation. Literally, Tanmay did not even speak the language spoken in this docu-drama. While you might think that a DP has often been a part of productions in which they didn't understand the language, consider that Chowdhary was the one-man crew of this entire film.

Proving himself to be somewhat of an "on the ledge" overachieving artist, Tanmay undertook a project that would test his mettle as a filmmaker in a monumental way. Using only handheld cameras, only natural and practical lighting, and serving as the sole member of the production team allowed Chowdhary to capture an intimate story between two women in a way that conventional filmmaking could not offer. The film was a hit at such events as SASFF, the Festival Du Nouveau Cinema, Filmfest Dresden, and many others. The "cast" of the story, Zuzanna and Emilia, are a proxy for all of us who question our present and future aims.

Tanmay explains his unusual visual approach and composition stating, "Growing up in India, there was a constant need and lookout for space. The streets are full. There are people all around you and in order to find a clean composition, you really have to step out of the box and research. I think this lack of space forced me to look for unusual ways of looking at the image, ways that would then allow for a style of shooting that became very peculiar. I take that with me when I work anywhere in the world."

Whether it's his slow meditative long shots that play with the relationship between spaces and characters, wide compositions which breathe and capture the action in a single shot, or often naturalistic and pastel color tones, Tanmay Chowdhary displays the most important characteristic of any artist?a unique signature and voice. The elements which combined to create his style have gained the attention of Hollywood and beyond.

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