You have created
an identity for film editors. Comment.
Nothing was planned. I was doing a lot of ads and
while working with Gautham, I got the opportunity
to work on Khaaka Khaakha. Every scene was like an
ad for me. I did not want to think I had two and a
half hours; I treated it like an ad. I wanted to do
something whacky and the script also was like that.
What was the
kind of editing experience you had?
In 1994, I worked at Edit Point and then from 1996
to 99, I was in AVM Studios doing the same thing.
From 1997, I was with Rajiv Menon Productions and
worked on ads with Rajiv, Latha, AC Films and many
others. I worked for a few ads with Gautham and a
music video. I worked as an assistant on two telefilms
Annai and Siragugal where Jaishankar was the editor.
That time, director Manobala would literally hit me
saying, ‘Let the shot go on. Why are you cutting
it so short?’ He’s also responsible for
a part of the film editing knowledge I acquired.
How did you get
your first break in films?
Gautham approached me to do the jeep song and he
wanted it for the audio release and I did it overnight.
Whatever I felt like doing, I did it. It turned out
nice and he and Dhanu asked me to do the whole film.
How did you get
interested in editing?
I was pursuing animation in Vector Institute; it
had just started at Prasad Studios. One of my close
friend’s sister introduced me to editing and
audio engineering. She used to work for National Geographic
channel. She came to know that I was interested in
animation, I liked drawing and I liked computers.
She said, ‘why don’t you try editing.
I will put you onto a person and you will see that
editing is also cool.’ She also asked me to
try for 2 days and then decide whether I wanted to
continue with animation or editing. Then she took
me to a place called Teletape and that’s where
it all started. I started working with editor Mathangi.
My interest grew.
It plays a very big role because 2 frames can change
the course of a film. Those 2 frames matter. For example,
if a heroine is walking past the hero, and if the
hero gives her a look or is checking out her or something,
it has to be at the correct level, if you get the
eye expression and it goes a little more, it becomes
lust. It should not become that, because he is in
love with her beauty. Editing does matter and sets
the pace of the film, what kind of speed the film
and script requires.
What are your
I don’t have any as such. Each film is like
a best film. When I work on it, I feel I should give
my best to it.
What was it like
before Khaakha Khaakha and after?
Before Khaakha Khaakaha I used to work on ads where
the first rough cut of the ad would come to 2 minutes
and they would need just 30 seconds. What I learnt
there more, is to remove the unnecessary stuff and
give importance to each shot and what it conveyed
- whether the camera was good, was it helping the
shot and in conveying what they want to do. I decide
say put 60% of that and then the rest is a close up,
a reaction shot, so let me use 80% of it. We used
to throw out stuff and still convey what we wanted
in 30 secs. That helped a lot in my film work.
Is there any
Nothing different about it. I see a lot of new films.
When you see a film, unless you are there in the background,
you will not know what has been removed. You will
have no clue as to what happened on the editing table
and how it has been shaped. It depends on each editor
on how differently he works on it but as far as the
film comes out, it’s the director and that’s
Your long association
with Gautham Menon.
I know him since the time we worked with Rajiv. We
know each other for long and are pretty cool with
each other. I call him machaan. He, Rajiv and I are
good pals. He has confidence in me that I will do
something good for him. For every project, I first
sit alone and then call him after I finish the first
half. Then both of us discuss and he’s pretty
cool with whatever I say. Sometimes, he will agree,
sometimes he will explain why he wants the scene that
way and we have a good rapport.
What is your
approach to work like?
Some new directors approach me and then there are
some who are constant who always work with me and
share a comfort level. For example Gautham and Simbhu;
they don’t ask me, they just give me the work.
The best part of it is that I will never listen to
any story before the edit. I just go ahead and finalize
and when I sit on the edit table, every scene is something
new to me, something really fresh. Even if something
is bad, I will check why they have this scene, what’s
going to come next?
If an audience is going to watch a film in the theatre,
it will take 2 hours to watch but for me it’s
those two months of editing. And that gives me the
interest level in working and into the script instead
of listening to the script first. Suppose the story
is bad, it’s something more challenging in editing
on how best you can save the film. You can’t
say the story is bad, I can’t edit it!
They say films
are made on the editing table. Comment.
Yes, films can be made in the editing table. The
script can be really bad but still on the edit table
it can be saved.
Does your approach
change while editing different genres?
No, for all genres it’s the same kind of mindset,
the same kind of person sits there - that’s
me. That’s the same way with my editing style,
I sit there and work. If I feel like getting up and
going and playing the carom board I do so, no matter
who is there or what work is on. If I feel bored I
go for a walk, play carom or get a coffee.
there a difference in editing different languages?
There’s nothing like that. You don’t
need to know Chinese to edit a Chinese film
because most of it is Visual Communication.
You see it, you know it. A little bit of help
is needed from a director or from an assistant
director in terms of dialogue and what exactly
it conveys. Other than that, you don’t
need to know a language to edit a film in that
You don’t need to know
Chinese to edit a Chinese film
How was your
experience with Director Lingusamy?
Lingu is a very good friend. We pull each other’s
legs and tell each other personal stuff and it’s
a good rapport. It’s a brotherly affair; I get
lunch from his house, lovely food. Gautham is more
of a friend. With my set of close directors it’s
more fun editing.
Shankar Sir may be a big
director but in the edit room by
my side, he is like a king and a
was it working with Director Shankar?
have done a few trailers for Director Shankar’s
previous films and while working on the trailer
of Boys, I told him you are a big director and
my small aim is to do a song in your film. Later,
he asked me to do Sivaji. For the first two
weeks, it was a little difficult to do because
I was scared of him and wondered whether what
I was doing was right. However, after that we
gelled so much. Shankar Sir may be a big director
but in the edit room by my side, he is like
a king and a friend also.
How was it working
Endhiran was fun because it was like a game. You
have an empty shot and you have to imagine that the
character is going to walk from here to there three
steps and then walk towards the camera three steps.
So the action and all imaginary characters are based
on the empty block and then we decide on the length
of the scene. We would be waiting like an exam result
for the animation. When the animation actually came,
we would check if our assumption of each cut was right
or not. It was fun.
How long did
you take to edit Endhiran?
Over a period of 3 years, we would have worked for
5 months continuously.
What was the
most challenging scene in Endhiran?
Every scene was challenging because of the graphics
and the empty blocks. They shoot the empty blocks
and you don’t know what’s happening and
we just imagine. We do a pre-visualization and then
according to that we keep these characters in the
head, for instance Rajini Sir is here and Aishwarya
is here and this robot character will come running.
The whole film was challenging and not one particular
How do you choose
Nothing like that. I never look into the budget of
the film, release nor the director. They call me and
ask if I will do it, I say fine.
On working with
Pushkar and Gayathri in Oram Po.
Gayathri and Pushkar are fun-loving people and you
can just tell them anything. They are very open and
we go out partying too. It’s good working with
them and they show a lot of confidence in you.
On working on
a period film Madharasapattinam.
Madharasapattinam is one of my favorites. The rough
edit was done by the director. I loved that story
so much. After the rough edit I had to watch it like
an audience and it was lovely and Vijay was at his
best. He’s my partner also in the studio. I
just loved the way Arya was in it and the new face
heroine. Everything worked well in the film. The challenging
thing was that there would be a tilt up shot and just
a blue screen behind the artistes. I had to imagine
the vastness of old Chennai behind them and keep the
shot that long and then cut. After that, graphics
would be combined and then we would decide.
was it like working with Murugadoss?
Murugadoss is a very talented, a cute person
and lots of fun to work with. Again like all
my directors, they don’t tell me how exactly
they want a scene edited but wait to see what
I do. I do all my buildup. Finally, they give
Murugadoss is a very talented, a
cute person and lots of fun to
Endhiran and Robot edited the same way?
was not like I kept the films side by side and edited.
Each was like a fresh film. I had the story in mind
and what I need to do.
the kind of relationship exists between the cinematographer
What we need is understanding, something you will
find in my editing too. For example, I should see
and know that from the long shot and then moving to
close-up, the lighting on the face should match. If
it’s not matching, they would have 100% taken
a shot with lighting on the face. I have to keep in
mind the story is good and if the cameraman has taken
a crane shot, let’s sell that too, that movement.
All these things should be taken care of.
The cameraman also should have editing sense. For
instance if we take this trolley from here to there,
the next shot should again be a movement shot from
the opposite side and that it has to be done in such
a way that the editing pattern should come correct.
If a guy is walking towards the house, whatever height
and if they are cutting to the point of view, the
camera should be at the eye level of the person, it
can’t suddenly go down like a trolley.
Who are the other
editors you like?
Sreekanth, he’s my senior and very mature in
editing. He gives importance to the script and how
the story should be told.
What are your
favorite songs amongst those you have edited?
I like all my songs and my friend’s song New
York Nagaram. I like my first song, the jeep song
in Khaakha Khaakha and another favorite is Suttum
Is there any
new trend in editing?
Nothing like that, the machine changes and the software
changes, it gets upgraded and extra effects get added
on. Editing is different from stylizing. Editing is
conveying something to the audience by holding the
audience by the hand till the end of the film and
leaving them back in the car park. There will be no
change; there will be changes in the gimmicks and
highlight part alone. The Camera is getting improved
because of quality; you can do so much because of
What about old
editing techniques like fade in and out?
If a scene needs a fade in fade out it still needs
it and not a wipe.
Are we on par
Technically we are on par. But in storytelling we
need to reach our kind of audience. I am not saying
they are lower than Hollywood but Indian films are
made for our people. If our directors went to Hollywood
of course the films made would be on par with them.
What are your
I am working on Ko, Nadunisi Naigal, Veppam, 7am
Arivu, Vaanam, Poda Podi, some Kannada films, Karthi’s
film and Lingu’s film which has just started.
Rajini said super, super, superaa
did Rajini say about your work?
said super, super, superaa irukku. Very nice.
He said it in Sivaji and Endhiran also.
What is your
equation with stars like Simbu, Vikram and Suriya?
They are cool. They don’t look at me like
an editor, I don’t see them as an actor, and
we talk normally.
So they are cool
Most of the times, I take the liberty of saying
what I want.
When are you
Direction is still not happening; I have a large
number of films to complete but am working on a script
too. Only then I will announce.
You were said
to have given 25K to Simbhu for editing.
Simbhu is a very close friend of mine. We talk about
anything, sometimes I shout at him and he shouts at
me, we have fun. He’s like Kamal sir, he’s
got it everywhere, he knows sound mixing, and he knows
how to help out in composing sound. He knows editing,
acting, directing almost like Kamal sir. He likes
editing too and sometimes he says, you say it’s
so difficult, and then I say ok you do it. Then he
will say I will edit this scene and work as my assistant.
It was a fun thing he said I worked a lot and you
did not pay me, and then I gave him Rs. 25000.