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Anadi Athaley : Editor, Producer, Film Maker

Anadi is an editing graduate from FTII and is one of the brains behind Human Trail Pictures, and continues to edit as an individual professional as well.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
I think I’m very lucky to have very supportive parents. My mother and father are both theatre artists and they are associated with IPTA in my hometown of Raigarh in Chhattisgarh. I have always been inspired by their zeal. When I was a kid, a friend of my father’s bought a small mini-dv camera, which he gave him to test and experiment with. That camera got into my hands and I started discovering what I could do with that. At that point it was just amusement for me. Later I got my hands on Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, which my mother got for me. I remember being mesmerised by his brilliance and the simplicity of his work. This is where I started taking cinema seriously. I remember watching a lot of his films and eventually got my hands on many other filmmakers including Georges Melies. I guess I figured what I wanted to do.

How did you first become interested in film editing?
I was unaware what editing was, before I met Mr. Sankalp Meshram. While working with him, I discovered how editing was a creative process, and it was much beyond the technical aspects of it. I started realizing that I really liked the edit room and the sense of calm which prevails there. I also realized it brings me a lot of joy when the film is able to evoke meaning and emotions through the process. I think editing is a very cathartic process for me. I can gradually see things taking shape, and it gives me immense satisfaction.

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Monisha Baldawa : In A Chat With An Editor

 

Monisha R Baldawa is an alumnus of FTII, Pune (2004-07) specializing in Film Editing. She has worked on many award winning films across various platforms – fiction, non-fiction, ad films and art installations. In January 2017 she won the Filmfare award for Best Editing for the film Neerja.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
I grew up in a middle class milieu. Movies for us were family outings and I enjoyed going to the movies very much. Although I was brought up in Pune and my family is Marwadi, I watched a lot of Tamil films also because I was very close to a Tamilian family who were our next-door neighbors. More than an attraction for photography or the visual arts I was deeply attracted to stories and story telling. In fact I would look forward to power failures in the evenings when all of us would gather in the balcony and GG, my aunt would tell us stories. I was transported into the fantastic world of Indian Mythology, Jataka tales, Akbar & Birbal, Bikram & Betal and so on.

How did you first become interested in film editing?
During graduation I got myself a FM10 SLR and also learnt 2D flash animation, that was my first interaction with the Visual Arts. Later, while doing my Masters in Video production at Pune University, Prof. Samar Nakhate opened up newer dimensions of the narrative form for me. He showed me the immense possibilities that emerge out of visual syntax. I remember clearly, one afternoon, we spent hours arranging and re-arranging a set of photographs taken by me. I was dazzled by how many different meanings could be created by changing the sequence of images. I think my romance with film editing began on that day.

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Nilanjan Datta : In a chat with an Editor – Director

Nilanjan Profile

Nilanjan Datta

Nilanjan Datta is a graduate of Film Editing from Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. Before making `The Head Hunter’, his first feature film, Nilanjan has made short fiction films and documentary films. He has also been awarded the National Award for his documentary film ‘Bhanga Gara’ in the year 2009. Nilanjan was born in Assam and grew up in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. `The Head Hunter’ was part of Mumbai International Film festival and Indian Panorama at the 46th International Film festival of India, and Canada International Film Festival, Vancouver. He received Special Jury Mention for Best Debut Direction at the 25th Aravindan Purushkaram, Kerela and Special Jury mention at the 11th Prag Cine Awards, Assam. He has been awarded the National film Award for “The Head Hunter” this year. Presently he is an Associate Professor of film editing at FTII, Pune.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Cinema happened in my life pretty early. My father is a film buff and from a very early age, I started to watch films with him. And he introduced me to Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara, which is also one of his favorite films.
My uncle was the first press photographer of Assam and had a photo studio, where I used to learn how to develop and print black and white photographs. The magic of image appearing in the printing paper inside a dark room used to fascinate me. He was also a theater and cinema buff and influenced me in my childhood.
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Shounok Ghosh : In a chat with a film Editor

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Shounok was born and brought up in Kolkata. Did his post graduation from Delhi and then studied in FTII Pune, TV EDITING, 2004-2005.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
I come from an upper middle class Bengali family from Kolkata, so art and literature was always a part of growing up. Though watching films was a strict no, my parents always encouraged me to read a lot of storybooks and listen to Rabindra Sangeet and a lot of heavy classical music.

My father being a lawyer and mother professor, there was always a pressure to put more stress on academics and education.
As far as I recall, my introduction and early influences towards cinema, came from my grandmother, who would take me and my elder brother to watch films in theatre in afternoons, to kill time, as both my parents were working and it used to be an uphill task for her to manage us (I was very naughty as a kid). There used to be this theater in central Kolkata, called “Talkie Show House”, and that’s where she used to take us.

Apart from that, as I was growing up, my elder brother used to sometimes take me to theatres and also he would talk about films, obviously all these in a very clandestine manner, ensuring that my parents would never have a clue.

Naturally I started following him blindly -all his favorite films, film stars ,his idols, his favourite music, food and books and thus began my own journey through all of these.

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Arindam Ghatak : Interview with a Film Editor

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Arindam Ghatak is a film editor who graduated from FTII in 2006 (diploma films as editor- Chabi Wali Pocket Watch and On My Deathbed). He is from Kolkata, did his graduation in Psychology from Fergusson College, Pune after quitting his engineering course, after which he worked as a journalist with the Indian Express, Pune for a little more than a year before joining FTII in 2002. He has edited films like Rocket Singh, Salesman of the Year, Go Goa Gone, Happy Ending, Guddu Rangeela, Tanuja Chandra’s yet un-released Raakh, among others. He has also edited several documentaries like Urmi Juvekar’s Shillong Chamber Choir and the Little Home School, Surabhi Sharma’s Pregnancy, Prescriptions and Protocol, Altaf Mazid’s A Duet With the Water God (it won a national award), Parasher Baruah’s Waste and several others, as also Neha Choksi’s Leaf fall, Aftermath, Iceboat, Found Green for video installations. Currently, he is based in Mumbai…

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?

I don’t think I had one particular influence as a child, nothing specific that I can remember. In fact, I don’t think it was the ‘arts’ at all. That happened much later. In fact, films were pretty much a forbidden zone at home. My mother was very strict and a lot of emphasis was laid on academics and I was a good student. But on the other hand, she took my sister and me to watch films like Superman and Born Free and ABBA and Goopy Gayne Bagha Bayne and 20,000 Leagues under the sea when they released in the theatres. Bollywood and film magazines were forbidden but my aunts (it was a sort of a joint family till a few years after my grandfather passed away) loved filmy gossip and Stardust, Filmfare, Star n Style etc were always lurking around in some corner of the house which I would quietly sneak up and read sometimes when my mother would be away at work.

I also liked to read books and comics but it was random stuff- Enid Blyton, Archies, maybe a classic here, a Sidney Sheldon there. But I was a day dreamer and spent hours in the afternoon in our lovely verandah (The verandah was on the first floor of a two story house. It was quite big, especially in length, had a lot of light streaming in, a huge krishnachura (gulmohar) tree literally leaning against it. Neither the verandah exists anymore nor the tree.) staring out into the street (a little bylane in south Calcutta), sometimes reading, sometimes jumping through my skipping rope and soaking in that afternoon light on holidays. I can almost feel that light. I think impressions like these are what drew me to cinema and I have strong impressions stored somewhere within me from almost every moment of my life. Art, Literature, photography, music, cinema itself happened to me much later when I moved to Pune at 17 to study engineering. I spent ten years in Pune and that changed my world- the people I met, the life I lived, the films, books, music  I was exposed to, my love affairs, working as a journalist at the Indian Express, studying at FTII, living in hostels- I think I ‘grew up’ in Pune, a late bloomer!!…

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Prerna Saigal: Editor

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Prerna Saigal is from Delhi. She has worked as an editor for films like Peddlers (Dir: Vasan Bala), Tigers (Dir: Danis Tanovic) and Bombay Velvet (Dir: Anurag Kashyap). “Attempting to leap even while taking baby steps, she does not mind the falls as the highs will always be special”

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Community viewings of movies. Since I lived in a joint family those experiences. Not just the film but the collective experience, that drew me in.

How did you first become interested in film editing?
It started with editing college projects. The idea of putting together audio visuals was exciting enough, fiction or otherwise. Cinema of course seemed like a natural transition.
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In conversation with Antara Lahiri

Profile

Antara was born and brought up in Kolkata. She completed her schooling from La Martiniere for Girl’s and college from St. Xavier’s, Kolkata.
Prior to working in Mumbai, she directed a magazine style non fiction daily programme for Doordarshan Bangla. In Mumbai she wrote scripts for and directed MTV MotoAlert.
She graduated from the FTII in 2008 with a diploma in film editing.
In the same year, her diploma film “Narmeen” (directed by Dipti Gogna) won the HBO Short Film Competition Grand Jury Award in the South Asian International Film Festival in New York, and in 2009 Best Short Film at the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles. Her documentary project “A Call Too Far” (also directed by Dipti Gogna) won the Silver Award at the 2007 IDPA awards.
Antara has assisted on projects like Ghajini, Daayen Ya Baayen, Road Movie and Jhootha Hi Sahi. Her independent feature film projects are Gattu (CFSI), From Sydney with Love (Pramod Films), Mere Dad Ki Maruti (Y-Films) and Bewakoofiyaan (YRF Studios). She has edited a documentary for PSBT entitled ‘Gandhi Lives’.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
I grew up amidst myriad creative influences. My grandmother was a graduate of the National School of Drama. My mother is an independent artist and one of the best read people I know. She encouraged me to read from a very early age. Also in my family, most of us have trained in some form of dance and/or music. So most of my childhood was spent shuttling between the library, dance/singing lessons, my mother’s art class or play rehearsals in school. While all this was tremendous fun, my one bone of contention was that my father was super strict about TV and film viewing. So much so that my sister would stand guard at the stairs while I watched Chitrahaar, and at the first sign of my father returning from office we’d switch off the TV and run to our room. The few times I was actually allowed to watch a film, it would be an an old English film playing on Doordarshan (read: Casablanca, Ben Hur, Ten Commandments). There was no cable or VCR allowed in the house. I think ‘Tridev’ was the first Hindi film I watched, that too at a relative’s house. The second film I distinctly remember watching was the Tom Cruise film ‘Cocktail’ at a friend’s house and I remember feeling more than a little scandalised at the waterfall scene.

Somewhere along the way I figured the only way I could freely watch films and TV was to actually study them. That was the sole reason I applied for admission into the Mass Communication dept at St. Xavier’s Kolkata. I celebrated by watching Biwi No.1 seven times in the theatre.

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Jabeen Merchant : Interview

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Jabeen graduated from the FTII in 1995, majoring in Film Editing.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
I have a very clear memory of the first movie I ever saw in a theatre, The Poseidon Adventure. I was about three years old. I knew that it was about a sinking ship because my aunt had told me the story in advance; but I was barely able to decipher the images on the screen and the American accents sounded like complete gibberish. I literally didn’t understand a single thing while watching. Still, the experience seems to have gotten imprinted into my mind forever. Talk about the power of cinema.
Mostly, like all children growing up in the 70s and 80s, I watched the Sunday evening Hindi movie on Doordarshan. Occasional trips to the theatre were made for films that my parents thought were age appropriate. Adventure and wildlife type Hollywood films. Amar Akbar Anthony, but not Sholay when it released. Later on, there was this series of teen romances launching various movie star sons. I didn’t care for Kumar Gaurav or Sanjay Dutt (Love Story and Rocky), prefering Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff (Betaab and Hero). Alongside, there were the ‘parallel cinema’ classics of the 80s – when I recall those films now, I realise that Shyam Benegal was the giant figure there, although at the time I wasn’t interested in knowing about any filmmaker. Movies were fun, but just a regular part of life that I didn’t think much about.

The other arts, not so much, but literature has been the biggest influence for me while growing up. I’ve always been an obsessive reader – school library period, comics stolen from my older brother, pulp novels from my father, tattered books bought cheap from the corner raddiwala and that wonderful, now forever lost place, the neighbourhood ‘circulating library’. I wasn’t a topper otherwise but I usually got the highest marks in the class for the English exam. My 10th standard teacher was convinced I’d be a writer. In college, naturally, I chose to major in Eng Lit and loved every second of it.

I became interested in cinema and filmmaking mainly while studying mass communications after graduating from college. I joined the SCM course at the Sophia Polytechnic, intending to pursue a career in journalism after I finished. It was a very intensive one year, driven by a passionately committed teacher, Jeroo Mulla, whose own first love has always been cinema. In her classroom, we went through a kind of ‘World Cinema 101’ – a 16mm projector was set up every Friday evening and we watched films specially brought in from the National Film Archive. That was my introduction to Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Kurosawa, Bergman, Godard, Truffaut, Resnais, Satyajit Ray, Ghatak, Orson Welles, Chaplin (as more than a slapstick comedian), Kubrick, and also the classic documentary films: Flaherty, Basil Wright, Bert Hanstra, Dziga Vertov… we watched a film a week for that one year, each followed by a detailed session of analysis.

I realised by the end of it that my love for literature and writing actually brought me much closer to cinema than to journalism, although that too came easily enough in terms of skill. The best of cinema, for me, is like the best literature; crafting stories and communicating ideas; sharing a view of the world.

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