Marcus Bartley hails from a family of renowned doctors in Yercaud. It was expected that Bartley too would enter that profession. But even in school, he knew what he wanted to do. His parents left him to make his own choices, and in 1940, Bartley headed to Bombay and got a job as a rookie photographer/reporter with a leading newspaper.
In the small, closely-knit coterie of press photographers, he met Ellis R Dungan, Shantilal Shah (whom I married much later), BK Dilwali of Simla Studios, Carlo Marconi, and Homai Vyarawalla. Bartley did not have any formal training in photography, but he was willing to work hard and do the smallest of jobs. He observed, read, watched and absorbed. My husband would say that as a press photographer, you clicked on the run, and considered yourself lucky if you got four to five clear photographs from a roll of 36. With Bartley, it was almost always 36 out of 36.
In 1945, with the War over, Bartley returned to Madras and cranked his first film. When we caught up with him in 1956, this tall, welcoming man with bright blue eyes was head of the photography department of Vauhini Studios owned by B Nagi Reddy.
Much has been said of Bartley being a difficult person to get along with, because of his bad temper. The truth is that he was a perfectionist, and could not deal with an unprofessional attitude. He didn’t believe in hierarchies and treated everyone the same; it is possible he didn’t even know the names of the stars in his films. All that mattered to him was that they were punctual.
He did not understand Hindi, spoke fractured Tamil and Telugu, but he made it a point to sit with the script writer and director, understanding the screenplay, so he could work on his lighting style. His specialty was special effects, particularly for mythological films. Bartley had hand-picked a team of light boys and assistants, who carried out his instructions, working in efficient silence. He rarely allowed anyone to handle his lenses. I have seen him holding on to them as though they were the Holy Grail. He was focussed and would work for nights before the actual shooting, lighting the set to make it perfect. He worked with glamorous film stars, but rarely socialised with them. He was teased for being one of the rare Anglo Indians who never danced.
Chemmeen and beyond
He was excited when Ramu Kariat signed him on for Chemmeen (Malayalam). There were endless problems with this film. After the famed Hrishikesh Mukherjee stepped in to re-edit the confused footage, the film was released in 1965, to unanimous acclaim by critics and audiences. Every aspect of the film was highly praised, in particular the photography by Bartley.
But there were also rumours that Bartley had walked out midway over money matters. No one who knew him would believe he would jeopardise a production over money. Creative differences or unprofessionalism perhaps, but money was the least important aspect of his profession. Sadly, some portions of the film had to be completed by another cameraman and that was enough to cost Bartley the National Award that year. Many years later, senior cameraman U Rajagopal told me that he was only called in to complete patchwork. Bartley finally received the Award in 1969/1970 for Shanti Nilayam.
Bartley was not in good health. He had long suffered with diabetes, refused to go to a doctor, treating himself instead. By 1988, he seemed to lose his driving interest. He was restless and lonely. He decided to give up cinematography, but had more work than he could cope with, repairing lenses.
Arriflex made him their authorised service person and Bartley would sit for hours, doing precision work alone, in silence. He had never had a large circle of friends as his scholarship and iconoclastic brilliance did not allow casual chat. His son Alan admitted him to a hospital but Nagi Reddy shifted Bartley to Vijaya Hospital where he was given personal attention. From the Studios to the Vijaya Hospital, it was as though the wheel had come full circle.
A few days later, as I was about to drive to the hospital, I received his son’s call that Bartley had passed away. The roads to his home were jammed for hours. Cars were abandoned and we walked. There were hundreds of weeping people, friends choked with grief, mounds of garlands. His peers, members of every association of the film industry were present. There are not many who remember him today. But his achievements as pioneer, visionary, genius, and guru live on. Rajiv Menon and Madhu Ambat call me on occasion and we speak of Marcus Bartley. He will never be forgotten.
(Source: The Hindu 5 April, 2017)
(1). According to passage, it was difficult to get along with Marcus Bartley because of his
(a) bad temper.
(b) rude behaviour.
(c) tough style of working in film industry.
(d) drug addiction.
(2). Consider the following statements regarding the film 'Chemmeen '
I. Bartley was very excited when Ramu Kariat signed him for Chemmeen.
II. Chemmeen was a Tamil film.
III. It was released in 1965.
Select the correct statements using the code given below.
(a) II and III only
(b) I and II only
(c) All are Correct
(d) I and III only
(3). Where did Marcus Bartley get his first job?
(b) Acting School
(4). For which film Marcus Bartley got his first National Award 1969-1970?
(b) Shanti Nilayam
(5). Which of the following statements is incorrect about Marcus Bartley?
(a) He was fluent in Tamil and Telugu.
(b) He got his first film in Madras.
(c) He was an Anglo-Indian.
(d) He was a cinematographer.
(6). Choose the word/words which is Most Similar to the word printed in bold in the passage.
(c) Sacred Vessel
(7). Choose the word which is Most Similar to the word printed in bold in the passage.
(8). Choose the word which is Most Opposite to the word printed in bold in the passage.
(9). Choose the word which is Most Opposite to the word printed in bold in the passage.
(10). Choose the word which is Most Similar to the word printed in bold in the passage.
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