బాండిట్ క్వీన్, ఉత్సవ్, మండి, త్రికాల్, రామ్ లఖన్, ఖల్నాయక్,గజగామిని, చల్తే చల్తే తదితర చిత్రాలకు సినిమాటోగ్రాఫర్గా పనిచేసిన ప్రముఖ సినిమాటోగ్రాఫర్ అశోక్ మెహతా గత వారం ముంబై లో మరణించారు.
శేఖర్ కపూర్, అపర్ణా సేన్, శశి కపూర్, సుభాష్ ఘాయ్, శ్యాం బెనగల్ లాంటి గొప్ప దర్శకుల సినిమాలకు సినిమాటోగ్రఫీ వహించి ఎప్పటికపుడు తన ప్రత్యేకతను చూపుతూ దేశంలో అత్యంత ప్రతిభావంతులైన సినిమాటోగ్రాఫర్లలో ఒకరుగా నిలిచారు.
రెండు సార్లు జాతీయ అవార్డులతో పాటు ఎన్నో అవార్డులు అందుకున్న ఈయన మన మధ్య లేకపోవటం లోటే గానీ ఆయన కెమెరాలో బంధించిన దృశ్యాలు ఎప్పటికీ నిలిచిపోతాయి. ఈ సమయంలో ఆ మహనీయుడు శ్రధ్ధాంజలి ఘటిస్తూ…
‘Ashok Mehta was 14 when he ran away from home in Delhi and became a hawker’s flunkey in Mumbai [Bombay] selling boiled eggs. In 1963 he moved on to sell watermelon slices, and on a holiday he saw a film shoot in a studio in Dadar. Hooked, he joined as a canteen boy at Asha Studio in Chembur and later became an office boy at R.K. Studios. He slowly started filling in for absentee studio hands and soon became familiar with sets, lights, etc. The next step ahead was when he became camera attendant and soon learnt his way around the camera. He became c.asst at Srikrishna Films and got his first break as a cinematographer at the age of 25 in Raj Marbros’ ‘The Witness’. He credits his actual career boost to the reigning star of the 70’s, Shashi Kapoor. Kapoor, who was starring in a film being shot by Mehta, was greatly impressed by his work and even though the film did not get made eventually, it won Mehta the favor of Kapoor, who offered him his next production, ’36 Chowringhee Lane’. Soon after, Mehta was noticed by the leading filmmakers of the parallel cinema movement that was in its prime at the time and was flooded with film offers. The next step for Mehta was to establish himself in mainstream cinema and this opportunity came through actress Rakhee. It was during the filming of ‘Paroma’ that Rakhee got acquainted with Mehta and his work, but it was years later when Subhash Ghai, leading director of the popular film scene, was on the lookout for a cameraman for his mega-project ‘Ram Lakhan’, that she suggested the name of Mehta. Ashok Mehta then stepped onto the popular film scene and with the collaboration of Ghai, brought to popular cinema an altogether different style of lighting and shot taking.