Ashok Mehta, the ace cinematographer who lost a prolonged battle with lung cancer died at a Mumbai hospital.. This was a rare, albeit fatal instance of Ashok coming off second best. Indeed, for the man who worked with the best in the business, ranging from the highly accomplished Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad and Shekhar Kapur to the hugely popular Subhash Ghai and Anees Bazmee, life itself was a work of art. When the mood overtook him, he could caress with his lens, as he did in films like Utsav, Mandi, 36 Chowringhee Lane. When the situation demanded, he could provoke you, maybe even hurt you, as he did in Bandit Queen. All along, though, he was his own man, doing his own thing, his own way. Even when he worked for M.F. Husain in Gaja Gamini, he used his camera as an accelerator for the director’s drive, his vision creating frames which stayed in the mind of cinegoers long after the film moved out of the theatres.