Just some time ago I got to know that Cinematographer W B Rao, who had filmed popular Bollywood movies like Khuda Gawah (1992) and Rangeela (1995), expired on Tuesday. I remembered having interviewed him for a leading print magazine in India. I also remembered something about him that fascinated me. He had a penchant for hats. Wherever he went for shooting, he would definitely buy a hat from there. He had placed a collection in the hall where we did the interview. The hats were strategically displayed on the branches of a hat stand. Incidentally, his first name was Bhuvaneshwar. Though he had made a name for himself in the big bad world of films, very few people outside the film world knew him for his work.
Born in Vishakhapattanam, he did not have a typically filmi background. Post completion of his 12th standard in Science, he initially wanted to join the Navy. But after going for the interview, he dropped the idea. He was in Calcutta (Kolkata now) at that time since his Dad had been transferred there as a Govt. employee. He got interested in still photography and came all the way to Bombay (Mumbai now) to join Cinematographer Praveen Bhatt as an assistant. After that, there was no turning back. A few independent advertising assignments later, he came back to Bollywood as an independent cinematographer with Sultanat (1986). He was also doing advertisements as well, while he was working. He had done 30 movies independently before he expired.
W B Rao had 3 daughters and would affectionately treat me as a niece because we are both South Indians. Even I would call him uncle affectionately. I wish to God that he attains moksha. I hope his family receives enough strength to overcome the grief.
Bollywood and W B Rao: Some songs from the he had picturized:
Tu mujhe qubool… Khuda Gawah (1992)
Ik doosre ko karte hain pyar hum… Hum (1991)
Aaiyi aaiyi yo… Rangeela (1995)
Poocho zara poocho mujhe kya hua hai… Raja Hindustani (1996)
Tum dil ki dhadkan mein… Dhadkan (2000)
Aate jate jo milta hai… Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega (2000)
Rabba pyar se mila de… Talaash: The Hunt Begins (2003)