P. C. Sreeram is an Indian cinematographer and film director who works mainly in the Tamil film industry. A student of Madras Film Institute, Sreeram is widely regarded as the "Guru of Cinematography". Apart from his cinematographic works, he was much appreciated for his directorial venture Kuruthipunal which was submitted by India as its official entry to the Oscars in 1996. Sreeram is well known for his association with Mani Ratnam and received critical acclaim for his work in films such as Mouna Ragam, Nayagan, Agni Natchathiram and Geetanjali. He has worked as a cinematographer in over 30 films spanning across Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi, besides directing three films and a few TV commercials.
Sreeram was born on 26 January 1956 in Chennai, Tanil Nadu. He was the third child in the family and has two sisters. Sreeram's aspiration towards films grew much during his childhood days. He was educated at the Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Mylapore, Chennai. As a student he was not interested in studies and only managed to pass the exams. He developed an early interest in photography and years after struggle he joined the Madras Film Institute to do a course in cinematography.
Sreeram is married and had a daughter named Swetha who died in 2010. His niece, Preetha Jayaraman, a now established cinematographer in the Tamil Film industry, was inspired to her calling largely by her uncle's work in the field.
After receiving a diploma from the Madras Film Institute Sreeram made his cinematic debut in the early 1980s. One of his earlier works Meendum Oru Kaathal Kathai won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director in 1984. After a few unsuccessful films he worked with Mani Ratnam for the first time in Mouna Ragam (1986). The film gave a much needed breakthrough for both Ratnam and Sreeram. Following the success of Mouna Ragam, the pair went on to work in Nayagan. The film went on to win three National Film Awards at the 35th National Film Awards with Sreeram securing his first National Film Award. He used new techniques in the camera for their next film Agni Natchathiram and was praised very much for his work. The pair went on to work in a Telugu film titled Geethanjali in 1989. The film met with critical acclaim and commercial success as it won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment and seven Nandi Awards including the Best Story and Best Cinematography awards for Ratnam and Sreeram respectively.
During the early 1990s, Sreeram worked in a number of films such as Gopura Vasalile (1991), Thevar Magan (1992) and Mani Ratnam's Thiruda Thiruda. Sreeram made his directional debut in 1992, with the film Meera starring Vikram and Aishwarya in the lead roles. The film was a poor grosser at the box-office due to its delay in release.
Sreeram directed his second film Kuruthipunal (1995), a police story based on the Hindi film Drohkaal. The film had Kamal Haasan and Arjun playing the lead roles was an official entry made by India to the Oscars in 1996. The film was showcased at the Rotterdam International Film Festival under the category "Director in Focus" eight years after its release.
Sreeram's third directional venture titled Vaanam Vasappadum, was the first film in India to use high-definition digital technology. The film was shown at the Mumbai International Film Festival besides a screening at the ninth International Film Festival of Kerala. In 2007 Sreeram made his Bollywood debut with R. Balki's critically acclaimed Cheeni Kum that starred Amitabh Bachchan in the lead. He worked once again with Balki in Paa (2009). The film won four National Film Awards in 2010. As of 2012, Sreeram is working in a film titled Ai, working with S. Shankar for the first time.
Sreeram has been a mentor of some of the prominent film cinematographers in the Indian film industry such as Jeeva, M. S. Prabhu, Ramji, Chezhiyan, K. V. Anand, Tirru, K. V. Guhan and Preetha Jayaraman. Balasubramaniem started his film career as an assistant to Sreeram and worked for nearly 5 years under him.