Back in 2015, there weren’t many Instagram accounts exclusively for film fans. So Kalki Janardhanan decided to start his own. Today, Cinema Magic—which shares movie stills, audition tapes, and the like—is up to 2.7 million followers and has since spawned a new, more nuanced one: Color Palette Cinema.
From his hometown in the Italian Alps, Kalki started Cinema Magic as a place to talk about movies with strangers. As the account grew, he said, “it became quite impossible to have meaningful conversations.” That’s when he started digging for fun trivia and behind-the-scenes content that most people don’t see and posing questions for his followers to discuss in the comments. “That’s what I actually find more interesting than just saying what I think about a movie,” he added.
Posts usually come from musings about movies he’s watched. Last month, after taking in The Lighthouse, Kalki shared a roundup of scenes where the actors don’t blink. He quickly found on IMDb that “the director said that Willem Dafoe didn’t blink for quite a while, almost two minutes,” Kalki said.
“When you watch a film, you’re just watching. You’re involved and you don’t read the small details, like when a character doesn’t blink.”
Kalki became interested in movies at 18 years old, just as he was entering university to study food science. Now, Cinema Magic and Color Palette Cinema are his full-time occupation. The two accounts offer up wildly different ways to appreciate movies. While Cinema Magic dishes trivia, Color Palette Cinema invites you to look at the different elements that go into making a movie.
“Cinema Magic was focused a lot on actors and directors and the people in the spotlight,” Kalki said. “I wanted to create a page that focused more on all those people that were not in the spotlight: costume designers, production designers. Their work is very, very important and [Instagram’s] format works really well to show people that, in every scene, there’s a lot of work that people put in, and the actor is just one of the elements.”
We don’t often think actively about what goes into the making of every scene—that’s part of the magic of moviemaking. But when you’re given a frame without context, Kalki said, you quickly realize that “everything is there for a reason. I feel like I don’t really need to explain anything in the caption because it’s quite self-explanatory, I hope.”
Color Palette Cinema takes shots from different movies and pulls out significant colors into a row below the image. The selection usually comes from movies Kalki has seen (he watches a movie a day), but they’re also drawn from fan requests. From there, he finds high-quality screen grabs and creates a palette on Photoshop. “With the eyedropper, I pick the colors and color the rectangles,” he said. “It’s actually quite easy.”
“If you already watched the film and then you see a post, you can remember how you felt when you watched it,” Kalki said. “So you can connect that feeling to what you’re seeing and you realize why, maybe, they used certain colors.”
He’s very intentional about not captioning his posts, instead just including the relevant film credits. “People can make up their own minds of what they’re seeing with this format,” he said.
This is part of the reason that Color Palette Cinema appeals to a wide audience. Creatives who are not necessarily in film flock to the page for inspiration. “I get a lot of messages from people that use this page as a source of inspiration for whatever they do, like fashion,” he said.
“Color has a strong psychological effect not only on humans, but on animals. Different colors have different meanings. Some animals see a very specific color and are attracted to it, for example, and the same goes for humans. We are not aware of it all the time. It’s an instinct almost.”
In cinema, color is part of a vast toolkit used to convey emotion to the audience. Take Paris, Texas for example, one of Kalki’s favorite movies ever. “That film uses color in a very, very calculated way. You can really tell that the filmmaker thought about every frame and the composition was very precise.”
In it, director Wim Wenders uses a lot green, red, white, and blue. “Most of the time, blue, red, and white are together in the frame—the colors of America, of family and a positive environment,” Kalki noted. Green, whether it comes in the form of green light or grass, “represents the loneliness.”
In the film, a man named Travis (played by Harry Dean Stanton) wanders the desert alone for four years. With him, we catch many glimpses of green. After he reemerges, he has to learn how to reconnect with society and his family, including his child. “When you see the kid, who’s been with his uncle all this time, you see a lot reds, blues, and whites. There’s a big positive feeling.”
Take a look at some more of Kalki’s Color Palette Cinema creations: