A chance encounter with Satyajit Ray at his residence made me enter film.
This was way back in 1976-77 when he was about to make Joy Baba Felunath.
Being a patron of my school- Patha Bhavan, he would take most of his child artistes from there. He had invited us to his residence for audition. I still remember the whole cast of his film was there- Soumitra Chatterjee, Santosh Dutta, Kamu.
At the end of our meeting, he stood up and overawed an 11yr old guy completely; and at that moment I decided I have to be behind the camera, no matter what happens!
I pursued my dream and joined the Film and Television Institute, Pune to do a course in film editing.
After passing out in 1991, I joined Renu Saluja as her assistant and worked in films like 1942 A love story, Maya Memsaab, Sardar, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Bandit Queen, Kareeb, Hey Ram …… to name a few.
I worked with her till her death in 2000.
In between I had independently started working as an editor in films like Bada Din and Tum Bin. Over the years I have edited films like Kaalpurush, 3 Deewarein, Iqbal, Dor, Ek Hasina Thi, Shaurya and Lafangey Parindey – to name a few, maybe I will talk about those experiences later. Now, I want to share with you about my days with Renu.
The way she would handle her directors and the way she would tackle the problems in the script, had to be seen to be believed. And it was around this time, I got a chance to edit a rough cut for a couple of songs of 1942 A Love Story with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, as Renu would be busy in the shooting.
Another fantastic experience was the editing of Bandit Queen. There would be so many debates between Renu and Shekhar. One day, both Shekhar and our cinematographer Ashok Mehta got their pet dogs to the editing room. They were playing inside when Renu remarked that the editing room has turned into a zoo.
Also it was while editing Bandit Queen, my parents visited us. Renu told me to make them sit outside. I was surprised. Later she told me your parents wouldn’t have been able to withstand so much gaalis that are there in the film’s dialogues.
It was indeed a great learning experience working with Renu. No doubt, she was India’s one of the best editor.
But with the advent of the Avid, nowadays even the operators have become editors. And it hurts when even directors from the film institute prefer to work with operators so as to save money.
True, they have directed the film and know every single shot but aren’t they in love with each and every shot they have taken? Shouldn’t there be a second guy who looks at the rushes with a new perspective?
During a recent visit to Kolkata, I came upon a FTII graduate at Olympia pub who said he doesn’t need an editor. Well I said I have nothing to discuss with you- let’s just have our drinks. Well, his feature film did prove the point later on; maybe he should have had an editor on board.
What amazes me is that whenever we are contacted to edit a film, the first thing we are told is that it is a low budget film, even if it has Amitabh Bachchan or Akshay Kumar in it- strange isn’t it!
Even the big corporate houses try to present a very grim picture so that as a film editor we are content with whatever we are being offered. I am not trying to deter you guys who are learning editing. It’s just something you guys should know while entering this industry- editing is the most thankless job in films. In spite of it being one of the most important aspects of film making, more than 70% of the time we are cleaning up others mistakes.
Even the so called progressive film directors do not hesitate to exploit us. Yes we just don’t get our dues, be it remuneration or appreciation.
However, I would like to end here today with a line from a song in Iqbal- “ Kuch aisa kar ke dikha, khud khush ho jaye khuda”. It’s something I always strive for.