Most film editors will say that if their work went unnoticed, they probably did a good job. Curiously, their work does not just go unnoticed, it goes undervalued. An editor's name, more often than not, is missing from movie promotions or trailers. Yet, good editing just may be what separates a good movie from a bad one. It takes skill to make a seamless whole from layers of images, moving shots, and music, while paying attention to the story, the acting and the director's vision. An editor does more than cutting and integrating shots - a good editor is a good storyteller.
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This explains why Kahaani (2012) is a shining example. The taut editing and the pace of the movie did wonders and made Kahaani such a compelling thriller, which kept everyone in suspense at all times! The credit must go to Namrata Rao, the film's editor and one of the finest in contemporary Bollywood. In a movie that relies so heavily on keeping the audience hooked and guessing, Rao did a splendid job. The story could be criticized but the pace of the film is such that it hardly gives you time to over-think and just keeps you constantly engrossed. Rao received the National Film Award for Best Editing for Kahaani and many other accolades. Her body of work also includes the critically acclaimed Love Sex aur Dhokha (2010), for which she garnered a lot of critical acclaim and even a Filmfare Award.
Another editor whose work emphasizes the importance of and the skill behind editing a movie is Apurva Asrani. He edited the critically acclaimed Citylights (2014) but some of his best work had come decades earlier in the form of Satya (1998), considered by many to be one of the best films of the 90s. The editing, done by Asrani and Bhanodaya, was intelligent and innovative and what kept the film gritty, true to the content and very exciting. Every frame in the movie was impactful. Many critics lavished praise on the fine pace and editing and it won Asrani (along with Bhanodaya) the Filmfare Award that year. Asrani has also received the National Film Award for the bilingual comedy, Snip! His collaboration with Director Hansal Mehta saw him working on many fruitful projects like Chhal (2001) and Shahid (2012), which have helped establish Asrani as one of Bollywood's best editors.
Yet another National Film Award recipient is P. S. Bharathi. She received the award for editing Rang De Basanti (2006), which was India's official entry to the Oscars that year. And what a fine job she did with it! Her work seamlessly merges the two plots in the movie - that of the friends, modern and carefree and that of the freedom fighters - creating a visual design that is very impactful. It allows the film to explore parallels and for the emotional aspect to be in the forefront at all times. The impact and the pace of the film are due in large part to her fine work. She also worked on the biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) and other movies like Aks (2001), earning other nominations and awards.
While Rajkumar Hirani is known mostly for directing cult classics like Munnabhai MBBS (2003) and 3 Idiots (2009), few know that he started his career as a film editor. His editing career started out shaky, until he got his big break with Mission Kashmir (2000). He donned the hat of a director as well as that of an editor with Munnabhai MBBS and has edited all of his own films since then.3 Idiots is a particularly good example. The movie switches back and forth and combines different visual styles to effectively portray a very well told and highly entertaining film. The structure of the film is particularly cohesive. The movie shows why good editors need to be even better storytellers. Hirani tells a story here, and how!
Another editor who effectively brings that point across is Deepa Bhatia. Her work in Taare Zameen Par (2007) is pristine. She weaves in all the right elements in all the right amounts to create such a heart-warming narrative. The movie is innocent and carefree at one point, reflective at another. At one level, it is simply Ishaan's story and at another level, it is a commentary on society and all its flaws. Bhatia weaves all these layers perfectly to keep the focus of the audience onto Ishaan. The highlight of her work is probably the integration of the music with the script. It is just right. She did a simply splendid job. Bhatia has worked on many other notable works, such as Rock On!! (2008) and Stanley Ka Dabba (2011).
So while the actors and directors walk away with the credits (and deservedly so), if it is seamless, if it keeps you absorbed, if it makes you connect - then the editor had a lot to do with it. The editor worked with all the talent, all the shots and created one shining whole. The above mentioned editors prove that they bring a crucial talent to filmmaking, and their body of work proves it. Good editing can make a film, or break it!
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Writer: Tanisha N.
Editors: Shreya S. & Gunia K.
Graphics: Shikha A.
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