Peter Pereira was an Indian cinematographer and a special effects creator & supervisor, who was well-known for providing special effects to Bollywood films. In 1987, he rose to fame for creating special effects to disappear the character Arun Verma, played by Anil Kapoor in the popular Bollywood film Mr. India. On 10 January 2023, he took his last breath at his residence in Juhu, Mumbai.
Peter Pereira was born in 1929 (age 93 years; at the time of death) in Uttan, Thane district, Maharashtra, India. He grew up in his hometown Vasai, Palghar district, Maharashtra.
Parents & Siblings
Peter’s father was a film distributor, who worked with a well-known film distribution company, MB Billimoria, during the 1940s. There is not much information available about his mother or siblings.
There is not much information available about his marital status.
Peter had two nephews, Lanhert Pereira and Carlton Dmello.
In 1970, in his early 40s, Peter shifted to Juhu to acquire more professional opportunities in cinematography. At the start of his career, he worked as an apprentice at the Basant Studio in Chembur, owned by Homi Wadia, an Indian film director and producer, and there he performed routine jobs like setting up the camera and a few other common tasks. Being inclined towards photography, Peter assisted Babubhai Mistry, a special effects specialist, who worked as a trick photographer in the Basant Studios, to grasp the techniques of cinematography. While assisting Babubhai Mistry, Peter was given a salary of Rs 50 per month.
As a cinematographer
In 1963, Peter made his debut as a cinematographer with the Bollywood film Parasmani.
As a cinematographer, he worked with the Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan in some of his Bollywood films like Yaarana (1981), Coolie (1983), Mard (1985), Shahenshah (1988), Toofan (1989), and Lal Baadshah (1999). Apart from it, some of his notable Bollywood films include Baseraa (1981), Dil Aashna Hai (1992), Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996), and Pyaar Diwana Hota Hai (2002). Peter’s last film as a cinematographer is Bhaggmati (2005).
As a special effect creator
In 1970, Peter made his debut as a special effect creator with the Bollywood film Sachaa Jhutha.
Peter Pereira breathed his last on 10 January 2023 at his residence in Juhu and on the same day he was buried at the Our Lady of Grace Cathedral Papdy in Vasai, Maharashtra.
- Peter, in an interview, stated that he was fond of comedy films and was greatly influenced by Charlie Chaplin and his films.
- In an interview, Peter talked about his motivation behind entering the film industry and revealed that after he watched the film The Corsican Brothers (1941) in which Douglas Elton Fairbanks Jr. played the dual role of Mario and Lucien Franchi, he eventually decided to make films in Bollywood.
- At a young age, Peter got inclined towards photography as his father was immensely fascinated with it. In an interview, Peter talked about how his interest developed in cinematography while working as an apprentice at the Basant Studios and said,
My father was a photography enthusiast. I shared his hobby and enjoyed photography from the very beginning, throughout my youth. I owned a small Brownie camera and used to take lots of pictures. It was during my time as an apprentice at Basant Studio, where being in that whole environment in which films were being made, I too got attracted to motion pictures.”
- Peter worked in the Camera and Electrical Department for a few Bollywood films like New Delhi (1956), The Train (1970), Bharam Veer (1977), and Border (1997).
- In an interview, on being asked about his experience of creating special effects in the Bollywood film Mr. India, Peter replied,
What a beautiful film. Shekhar Kapur would tell me what he wanted and I would do it. It was easy and straightforward – I worked on a per day basis, otherwise I would have to be there all the time. I wasn’t the cameraman of the film, that would be Baba Azmi. On the sets, I didn’t work closely with the cinematography department, unless I wanted something changed. There was a scene in which I took one shot, Baba Azmi came up and started asking whether I was sure about the lighting. I asked him to bring me an egg and I would light it in 25 different ways.”
- Peter, while creating the special effects for the Bollywood film Mr. India (1987), used the classic masking technique for the character’s appearance and disappearance and the stop-motion technique for capturing the character’s footprints.
- Peter made a guest appearance in the Bollywood film ‘Amar Akbar Anthony (1977),’ starring Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, and Rishi Kapoor.
- Peter, in the early 2000s, lost his eyesight to glaucoma, a progressive eye disease that damages the optic nerve, which eventually leads to vision loss and even blindness.
- In 2022, Peter appeared in the documentary film Chhayaankan, directed by Hemant Chaturvedi, which highlighted the contribution of 14 cinematographers in the Hindi film industry between the 1950s and 2000s.
- During his last days, Peter was taken care of by a nurse in his apartment in Juhu, which was arranged by his nephew, based in the United States.
- The Indian actor Abhishek Bachchan took to Twitter to share the news of Peter’s demise and recalled his fond memories, which read,
Our industry lost a legend today. #PeterPereira was a pioneer in Cinematography in our films. One of the greatest!
I remember him fondly from the sets of my father’s films that I visited as a child. Kind, loving, dignified and brilliant. Rest in Peace, sir.
— Abhishek 𝐁𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧 (@juniorbachchan) January 10, 2023