Murthy used light and shade in an almost painterly fashion in Guru Dutt's films, whether it was in his crime thrillers and light-hearted capers like CID, Aar Paar and Mr & Mrs 55 or, in his later, more sombre, films.
While he was indebted to ace cameraman Fali Mistry, whom he assisted on two films and learnt the rudiments of his craft from, it was while assisting V Ratra on Baazi at Famous Studio that he met Dutt.
Impressed with his work, Dutt signed him for his next film. The director-cinematographer team went on to become legends.
Murthy always maintained that he was grateful to be working with a director like Dutt, who acknowledged the artistic importance of cinematography.
A story once narrated by him details how Dutt, who had snapped at him for taking too long to light up a shot for Aar Paar, later apologised and told him, "One day I will make a film in which there will be only two heroes: you and me." He then narrated to Murthy the story of Kaagaz Ke Phool.
Interestingly, when the film was made and premiered years later, Shammi Kapoor came out during the interval, asking loudly for "the hero of the film". Someone pointed out where Dutt was standing, but Kapoor made a beeline for Murthy, lifted him up and proclaimed, "Here's the real hero of the film, sab log taaliyan bajao!"
Murthy's creativity brought him several awards, including the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, in 2010, but his career ended for all practical purposes, the day Dutt committed suicide in 1964.
Murthy also worked on Kamal Amrohi's Pakeezah and Razia Sultan and in significant serials such as Shyam Benegal's Discovery of India and his once-assistant Govind Nihalani's Tamas.