He worked on Adoor Gopalakrishnan's films

Fest circuit fave Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s d.p. of choice, Mankada Ravi Varma, died Nov. 22 in Chennai, India, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85.

Varma’s collaboration started with Gopalakrishnan’s 1972 “Swayamvaram,” which went on to win several awards in India, including for cinematography.

Varma was a graduate of Chennai’s Institute of Film Technology. He worked mostly in Malayalam-lingo films from South India. Besides Gopalakrishnan, he worked with top Kerala directors including G. Aravindam (on “Uttarayanam” in 1974) and P.N. Menon (on “Ollavum theeravum” in 1969). Latter pic, shot in black and white, was remarkable for being lensed entirely outdoors in natural light.

An article Varma wrote about films in Samekksha mag drew the attention of fellow FTII alum Gopalakrishnan, who tapped the d.p. for “Swayamvaram,” which was followed by 1977’s “Kodiyettam,” 1981’s “Elippathayam,” 1984’s “Mukhamukham,” 1987’s “Anantaram,” 1990’s “Mathilukul” and 1993’s “Vidheyan.” The pair’s films traveled to such fests as Cannes, including 2002’s “Shadow Kill,” their last collaboration, which was completed by d.p. Sunny Joseph as Varma fell ill during production.

Varma directed a few films, such as 1977’s “Anugraham,” 1978’s “Avalkku maranmilla” and 1983’s “Nokkuthi,” which won awards in India.

He also wrote a book on cinematography called “Chitram chala chitram.”

Survivors include a sister.

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