Sanu Varghese is a cinematographer in India, who has worked in Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil films. He debuted as a cinematographer in the Hindi movie Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon in 2003, before which he worked as a technician in DD News. He also independently produced commercials and documentaries. Since then he has worked in movies such as David (2013),
Cheekati Rajyam (2015), and Wazir (2016). His previous works also include
Karthik Calling Karthik (Tamil) and Elektra (Malayalam). He made a critically-acclaimed breakthrough for his work in Kamal Haasan’s spy thriller, Vishwaroopam (2013). Sanu John Varghese was born in Kottayam, Kerala and attended MD Seminary High School. He did his BFA, Applied Arts from Trivandrum College of Art. Sanu discovered his natural flair for trained visual eye and developed a passionate interest in photography.
He wanted to be a photo-journalist like his idol Mohamed Amin (A Kenyan photojournalist whose coverage of the 1984 Ethiopian famine brought international attention to the crisis). He wished to make his photography as a medium for change. He then later attended the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication present at the University of Hyderabad, this is where he received a well-grounded and theoretical understanding of the graphic medium. On coming to Bombay, he started off his career as a news cameraman at TV18. While working for DD after a few years, Sanu assisted cinematographer Ravi K Chandran in films and documentaries before turning independent. His first break as an independent cinematographer came in Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon (2003), but Bollywood did not interest him, so he continued making commercials.
His television experience spanning over filming six hundred commercials include the ones for Coke, Cadbury’s, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Airtel, and Tata, to name a few. He made a comeback into movies with Karthik Calling Karthik and Malayalam psychological thriller Elektra in 2010. During this same period, Sanu began to work with the noted actor, director, producer, Kamal Hassan for his pet project, the Tamil historical film, Marmayogi, but the ambitious project was shelved during pre-production. After that came Vishwaroopam, an experience that Sanu himself claims to be his best collaboration with a director and also a learning experience of vast dimensions. The bilingual spy thriller, available in Hindi and Tamil but also later dubbed in Telugu, took around two years for production wherein Sanu traveled at length all over the globe in an attempt to find perfect locations for shooting.
His technical brilliance was noted by the film fraternity as he portrayed the landscape and vegetation of Jordan as Afghanistan due to their similar features. His brilliance in perfectly balancing light and action using multiple cameras has garnered him the tag of a perfectionist. Various segments of the sequels were also shot for the film but owing to Varghese’s tight schedule; he could not be physically present for the team while they were being shot simultaneously with the first film. After winning acclaim for Vishwaroopam, Sanu once again partnered with Kamal Hassan in 2015 for another bilingual movie “
Thoongaa Vanam” (Tamil, “Cheekati Rajyam” in Telugu) and for videos in A. R. Rahman’s album, Raunaq. Sanu is willing to do films every once in a while but only if any interesting project will be offered to him.