“I didn’t have to convince Ashok too much to face the camera. I can’t remember the exact words that he spoke. But Ashok played a colleague of Naseeruddin Shah’s who puts his head into the door and asks Naseer, ‘Maya has called again. What should I tell her?’ It was a small scene and Ashok was doing the cinematography of Ijaazat.
I didn’t have to convince him much. He was game. We let him play himself, and of course he wore that trademark hat of his. What would Ashok be without his stylish hats? As a person and as a cinematographer Ashok had great style. He taught me a lot about lighting and mood when we worked in Ijaazat.
The most important thing I learnt from Ashok was how to differentiate the color tone and mood between present and past while doing a flashback. There was a very subtle difference in the color texture in Ijaazat to show the time transition. Many wouldn’t even be able to recognize it. But it’s there. And I owe it to Ashok.
He was amazingly skilled in shooting interiors and exteriors in different lights. You didn’t have to be told that a character had moved outdoors. Ashok’s camera told it all. He was a wonderful team player, contributed immensely to the scenes and shots. In the song Khali haath sham ayee hai shot on Rekha in Ijaazat Ashok suggested a patch of sunlight on the floor as Asha Bhosle sang about the melancholic evening. He then added an unfinished cup of coffee to the scene. There was always something extra to a scene when Ashok was around. I wanted to work with him again after Ijaazat in Lekin. But Ashok was busy. So Manmohan Singh did the cinematographer for Lekin. If Manmohan is a poet with camera, Ashok Mehta was a painter on camera.”