Impish! Restless! That is the exact opinion one derives on initial meeting. But as his flitting gaze finally settles down on one’s face, the person sits fixedly under the scanner of his studying eyes looking for tales in the deep recesses of the mind waiting to be explored. Those are the eyes that have created spell-binding frames out of apparent nothingness to add poetry to otherwise mundane life. The other name for this composer of optical lyricism is Adikesh Bhargava, the Jamshedpur cinematographer who is setting benchmarks in Bollywood filmdom.
Adikesh did his schooling in Jamshedpur’s Gulmohar and SDSM schools. He was usually misunderstood by his teachers who complained to his parents that their son was not cooperative. Adi, as he is called, did not care much for the written word. He was constantly in quest for something that could give him a mental tongue for expressing his mind, his drive. Movies interested him. He used to bunk classes to see movies. The classic, ‘Shawshank Redemption’ revealed, through many revisits of the film, where his expressive mettle lay.
In 2004 he moved to Vishakhapatnam to join the Naval Training Academy. As Adi himself says, “I did well in studies but still, could not connect with words and emotions. However, I was sent to Pune, completed my course there and then, like all ‘good boys’ do, I got a corporate job. Yet the quest for what I actually sought continued. I quit the job and opted for cinema and landed in Mumbai.”
Adikesh got a break as an assistant director in a short film and then as an actor in a project at hometown Jamshedpur. His obsession ultimately found roots in 2010 as he stepped into the wide, creative but ruthlessly competitive world of filmmaking in the Bollywood setup. “The real and the reel lives combined to create a symphony for my expressions to flow. I felt comfortable for, at long last, I had found my firmament. I started working my way up from being a gaffer to being a director of photography. In between, I worked as a film editor, photographer and assistant director. My love for the camera grew as I found my expression through the lenses, I did my Diploma in Filmmaking from Mumbai’s Devi Prasad Goenka Management College of Media Studies (formerly World College of Media Studies) .”
Since then, Adi has only moved forward by dint of his sheer drive to discover and translate on celluloid. Adi is a hot favourite of many directors and actors in Bollywood and the list, in so brief a time span is enviably long. Would the mention of Ranvir Singh suffice? Reserved space to include names of other luminaries would kill the slot and Adi’s story will remain incomplete.
Adikesh attributes the thrust behind his creative urge to his wonderful, ideal parents, Mahesweta and Shatrughan. While Mahesweta is a teacher and Shatrughan, besides being a Tata Motors employee, is a stage and screen actor-director and both noticed the instinctive inclination of their son Adikesh while the kid was about to enter adolescence and backed him in his creative exuberance. “My parents, as far as I am concerned, are God’s greatest gifts to me. They are ideal. If all had parents like my Ma and Pa, the world would have been a much better place with all pursuing what they wanted to be in making the world a creatively beautiful heaven on earth,” observed Adi in a pensive mood.
In 2016, Adikesh Bhargava started a production house in Mumbai, Bigwave Media Pvt Ltd which works with brands like Viacom-18, Nickelodeon, Sonic, MTV, Zee TV and Star Network to name a few. Over the years Adi has shown his caliber in TV commercials, TV promos, web series, music videos, digital ad and films, feature films and the whole gamut.
His big-time break came in 2017 when he was assigned as a DP (India) for the film, ‘Drone’ which starred Sean Bean of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame. The film was released in the US and Canada to rave reviews. The same year, he did a Gujarati film, ‘Hu Narendra Modi Mangwa Manu Chu’ which was about a boy who wanted to emulate the Indian Prime Minister. A year later, in 2018, he shot the African film, ‘Before the Vows’ which won the Pan African Award at Cannes. His own film, ‘Seventh’ bagged the prestigious ‘Dada Saheb Phalke’ Award for the most inspirational film of the year 2019. So far, Adi has shot more than 50 advertisement and digital contents. His claims to his expressive medium are also embossed with recognitions including Promak BDA 2019, 2020 for production house Shemaroo.
As an essential ingredient to creativity in his genre, Adikesh says, “As a cinematographer, the most important part is to visualize the narrative before it actually happens. The job is to impart soul and body to the words and ideas of the director and writer on screen with the technical knowledge of lights which of course needs a lot of take on mathematics and physics that did not make sense to me when I was a student back in school. Work to me is my prayer and I am devoted to it as I am passionately in love with filmmaking. I chose the part where I could create life with my camera and make stories that people connect with.”
Adi’s work or rather, pursuit has taken him to Africa, Dubai, Malaysia, and other major metros of the Indian Subcontinent.
Adi believes, “If I had a chance to speak to all the budding filmmakers, the only advise I would give them is go out, see the world as it is and gather all the experience and never be afraid to take chances. We live in a world of challenges where risk is the name of the game and risk is what we need to take to achieve our goals in life. There are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ when you make a movie.”
Adikesh Bhargava has arrived. This 33 year old is already a wizard of the lenses and movie buffs and connoisseurs wish him creative health for a sojourn in the domains of constantly improving creativity.