Subrata Mitra, Cinematographer

One of the leading cinematographers of the Indian cinema, Subrata Mitra began his career as a still photographer. His first assignment as a cinematographer, was with Satyajit Ray for Pather Panchali. Later, he also worked for other directors, including James Ivory.

Rejecting the methods of studio lighting then accepted world-over, Ray and Mitra evolved the “bounce lighting”, which we take for granted today. Ray described it in an article – “Subroto (Subrata as pronounced in Bengali), my cameraman, has evolved, elaborated and perfected a system of diffused lighting whereby natural daylight can be simulated to a remarkable degree. This results in a photographic style, which is truthful, unobtrusive and modern. I have no doubt that for films in the realistic genre, this is a most admirable system.”

Mitra was also responsible for operating the camera until Charulata when Ray himself began operating the camera. Soon, they parted company and Mitra’s assistant Soumendu Roy took over the lighting. The last film Mitra photographed for Ray was Nayak (The Hero, 1966).

Select Filmography

  • 1955 Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road)
  • 1956 Aparajito (The Unvanquished)
  • 1958 Parash Pathar (The Philosopher’s Stone)
  • 1958 Jalsaghar (The Music Room)
  • 1959 Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)
  • 1960 Devi (The Goddess)
  • 1962 Kanchenjungha
  • 1963 Mahanagar (The Big City)
  • 1963 The Householder
  • 1964 Charulata (The Lonely Wife)
  • 1965 Shakespeare Wallah
  • 1966 Nayak (The Hero)
  • 1967 The Arch
  • 1969 The Guru
  • 1970 Bombay Talki


  • 1985 National Award for cinematography for New Delhi Times
  • 1992 Eastman Kodak Lifetime Achievement for Excellence in Cinematography
Subrata Mitra
Subrata Mitra