AA: Let me narrate an anecdote. I was to do this small film but I told them it wouldn’t be possible. After a few months, the approached me again and said their editor had left mid-way and could I please step in? So I told that producer… when I asked for `20 lakh, you said you couldn’t afford me. You got the other guy for `8 lakh and now you’re paying me `15 lakh to clean up his mess. You are shelling out `23 lakh now! Isn’t it hurting you? I told him, the problem is that they realise the value of an editor only when something goes wrong. But when things go right, you are satisfied with a `5 lakh job. Bohot acha editor hai and not because he did a good job but only because he did it at such a low price.
BOI: Has any one of you even seen an upsized cheque?
HK: I have.
BN: Tere ko mila??
HK: I have been getting them for seven years. For Tanu Weds Manu, Raanjhanaa, Tanu Weds Manu Returns.
BN: Wah kya baat hai! (Laughs)
AA: Isko bulata hoon main next time deal ke time. Edit bhi karayenge aur payment ka bhi baat karayenge. (Laughs)
HK: No, to be very honest, it is a personal thing. Even in Guzaarish I got an upsized cheque by Sanjay (Leela Bhansali) as the quantum of work increased as the release of the film was delayed.
BOI: What about the film’s success-driven bonus?
HK: Now Dabangg 2 was not the greatest of films but I received a bonus two days before the release of the film.
DB: I have never experienced anything like that.
HK: The bonus was a reward for completing the film under really bad conditions. The release date was December 21 and they shot for 27 days in November.
AA: Oh my God!
HK: None of us went home for a month and a half. I have had the most luxurious experiences with Aanandji (L Rai). On most days, when Aanandji walked in and asked my assistants, ‘Edit hua kya kuchh?’, they would reply, ‘Nahin sir aaj mood nahin tha’ because if I don’t feel like it. I can’t do it, footage dekha par mann nahin ho raha hai. So after Raanjhanaa, he booked a car for me because we never dreamt that Raanjhanaa would do a business of `68 crore in India and `118 crore worldwide. We just wanted to recover the money, so the minute the film made more money, Aanand was very generous.
RSB: He has been very lucky.
AA: Anurag (Basu) Funnily, Rakesh Roshan was also like that.
BOI: Why ‘funnily’?
AA: When I started my work with him on Kites, I was told by many people that I should be careful as I was working for Rakeshji. He didn’t give me a bonus but as soon as the film crossed its deadline, he increased my remuneration without any discussion. Anurag has always been like that maybe because of the kind of relationship we have, just like Hemal and Aanand.
HK: But he wasn’t the producer on Raanjhanaa. And even for Pyaar Ke Side Effects with PNC, there was no price discussed with Rangita (Nandy). I didn’t discuss the price back in those days because I was slotted in the Chandni Bar zone and I wanted to work on a chick flick then. Rangita has always paid me three to four months in advance and there was no sum discussed.
AA: That is with people who value you. Anurag values me so much that he said, ‘Arrey bohot time ho gaya yaar, I don’t think we will be able to finish on time.’ I said, ‘If you want to give, then give, otherwise it’s okay.’ As with my last cheque, I think he increased my amount by almost 50 per cent.
HK: That is because he is a filmmaker; I would love to see a producer do that.
RSB: Mera toh ulta hua hai. The producer said he had sustained a loss, so why don’t I give him a discount!
BN: That’s happened with me too.
AA: Actually, yes, and because of the footage, the game has gotten tougher so the value of the technician has gone up. Now I see that directors are afraid when you ask them to watch the 16 hours footage they have shot.
BN: They will not watch all of it. They only look at what we choose and then select the right takes.
DB: The calibre of editors has changed; we don’t have professionals like Renu Saluja. These were editors would could make or break a film. She left a mark on the work of every director she worked with. Kundan Shah, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra will tell you so many stories. Even Govind Nihalani… she did Ardh Satya for Govindji and everything I learnt came from the stories I had heard from Govindji about her. He used to tell me what an amazing visual memory she had; she could remember a shot she had seen even six months later. She was like Eklavya!
HK: She will always be the flag-bearer of our community.
DB: She was a legendary editor who set the bar very high.
HK: I will be very honest, we have not seen intellectual poverty like we do now.
DB: Imagine being part of films like Ardh, Satya, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Parinda.
DB: She was like a Goddess. I don’t think any of us will ever get that kind of customer feedback. She was so amazing and so full of ideas. When she used to go to Vinod’s sets, she even took some shots and in Parinda, she did pick-ups and still maintain her objectivity at the edit table. So I feel we all need to be better at what we do. People say she played a huge part in how Kundan’s film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro shaped up.
I remember she was doing Nagesh Kukunoor’s Rockford, and she was mixing at Raj Kamal. She had to cut the promo for the film and she called Govindji as his office was in Raj Kamal. She asked him if she could use his editing room. I was so excited as I would get to sit with her at the edit table. Govindji asked me why I wanted to sit on a trailer edit and I told him I just wanted to spend time with her. So for those six days, when she cut the trailer, I just sat there from morning till evening. It was like a crash course for me. She told me to never lose my ground, and to fight for what I believed in.
HK: I have worked in the industry for eight or nine years and there was a time they didn’t take me seriously. There is a reason Madhur never worked with me again. He didn’t like me in Chandni Bar. Success ko sab own kar lete hain. When Chandni Bar’s first cut came out, he didn’t even like the part as he thought too much had gone in the editing. Atul Kulkarni, who won an award for Best Supporting Actor in the film, actually had the main role. He was the Satya of this film. So if he was nominated for supporting cast, it was embarrassing as he was the hero of the film. In my vision, Tabu was the central character.
Chandni Bar was based on three things – first, Tabu’s daughter was sold, then Tabu was sold and then her son was sent to jail. While editing, I felt so bad for Tabu but I felt nothing for the other two tragedies. So, I thought this is not working and I rearranged things. I put the daughter first and then the son and went home. The next day, I thought even that was not working because now I felt bad for her son. And this was in 2000, when
DB: I remember watching it at Gaiety Galaxy. It’s a mind-blowing film.I was not even exposed to world cinema; it was all new to me. Then I went into another zone and I discovered something and all these characters came out beautifully. Eventually, Chandni Bar made history!
RSB: I will tell you one thing, Dhoom was recognised for the split screens but there were no split screens till we edited the entire film. The entire film had been edited when a publicity designing guy called Fayaz at YRF told me to implement a game, which was very interesting. So I tried it in the film.
DB: Barfi! was not a fast-paced film but you are so close to the world of these characters. You have to be true to the film. And that really is what editing is all about.