South Indian films have received phenomenal success in the recent past and they continue to do so. The films are not only appreciated in the south but also up north and even worldwide. The actors and actresses, the directors, the producers are usually the ones in the limelight when films are being promoted. They are the immediate receivers of appreciation and criticism. But there are quite a few artists behind the scenes, who work just as hard and at times, even more, for the success of a film. Here are a few of these artists-cum-technicians-cum-magicians from the South Indian film industry whose body of work is nothing short of brilliant and enviable, and their remarkable contribution needs to be appreciated.

Sabu Cyril

Who hasn’t heard of Baahubali? If you’ve watched it, you’d know the grandeur and magnificence of the kingdom of Mahishmathi and Kunthala. The man behind it is none other than the very popular art director or production designer – Sabu Cyril. From creating the futuristic world of Robot to making historic splendor come alive in Asoka, Sabu Cyril’s filmography includes Kala Pani, Enthiran, Thenmaavin Kombathu, Hey Ram, Om Shanthi Om, Main Hoon Na, Agneepath, Anniyan, Ra. One.

The artist who began with the film Iyer the Great in 1990 has some brilliant movies to his credit Sabu Cyril is super-talented and his work speaks for it. For the film Yuva, set in Kolkata, the production designer recreated the streets of Chennai to look like Kolkata with hand-pulled rickshaws and signboards.

His next projects include Sanghamitra and Randamoozham.

Santosh Sivan

Possibly one of the greatest cinematographers in the country, Santosh Sivan’s work has been exemplary. One of his most notable works has been the Mani Ratnam film Thalapathi (1991) which was inspired by Karna’s story from the Mahabharata. Rajinikanth’s character was called Surya (the Sun God). Santosh used tungsten lights and mirrors to bring out the beauty of the sun visually too throughout the film at times when there was no natural sunlight. The scene where Surya confronts his mother (Srividya) used the sun to show how it influenced the protagonist’s storyline. His signature techniques in the 90’s of using back-light stood out and made his subjects look interesting and stand out.

Roja is another example of amazing cinematography. At a time when dialogues were used to move a narrative, visuals played a major role, they spoke louder than the dialogues in Roja. Iruvar, a film directed by Mani Ratnam, is a piece of exemplary cinematography; sheer brilliance.

Santosh Sivan has won National Awards for Perunthachan, Kaala Pani, Iruvar, and Mohiniyattam.

His recent film was the Mahesh Babu film Spyder and his upcoming film is the Mani Ratnam directed film Chekka Chivantha Vaanam starring Jyothika, Prakash Raj, Vijay Sethupathi, Arvind Swami, Simbu, and Arun Vijay.

K. K. Senthil Kumar

The talented lensman who shot the Baahubali films is one cinematographer whose work has received heaps of accolades. Known for his numerous collaborations with director Rajamouli, Senthil’s filmography includes Magadheera, Arundhati, Eega and many other. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is Senthil’s seventh collaboration with Rajamouli.

His most challenging film till date he says is the film Eega, a film about a murdered man reincarnated as a fly to take revenge on his murderer. For Indian cinema, Eega was a new experiment, a successful one that too. Senthil had to move his camera with Sudeep (murderer)  who was reacting to an imaginary fly. The grandeur of the Baahubali films was such that to match up to the visualization of the director would have been very difficult for any other cinematographer. But Senthil is not any other technician, as we all know now.

P.C. Sreeram

When one thinks of PC’s style the frames of Agni Natchathiram comes to mind. This Mani Ratnam film made PC Sreeram popular for his use of lighting and brilliant camera work. He and his work were soon mentioned by critics who wrote about the film.

He has worked in Bollywood too, on noteworthy films with director Balki include Cheeni Kum, Paa, Ki and Ka and Padman. His upcoming film directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja is Super Deluxe. The film stars Vijay Sethupathi, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, and Fahad Faasil.