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Cutting Edge

After the massive success of Raid, editor Bodhaditya Banerjee talks to Bhakti Mehta about the process he used while editing this thriller and his approach to his next film, 102 Not Out

Your last film Raid was appreciated a lot. Can you take us through the process of editing a movie like this?

A film like Raid needs special treatment on the editing table because it has been pitched as a thriller. This genre depends totally on how you edit it. I think it is important to use reactions or facial expressions that lead to the question: what is going to happen next? That element helps when I am editing a thriller. There are some scenes that you cut in a way that it leads to a question and then eventually an answer. That is the essence of cutting a thriller.

One need not cut a film like this crisply; what is important is how you tell the story. You want the audience to be glued to the screen because if their attention wavers, the thrill will be lost. That was the big challenge – to hold the attention of the audience, especially since the film has so many montages. All the montages and the rhythms make it a very special kind of thriller as it is also mixed with a lot of drama.

It is not a thriller in the Hitchcock-ian sense. There are a lot of drama scenes, a lot of montage scenes, a lot dramatic scenes and dialogue scenes. If you look carefully, you will notice that there are many scenes that have been cut slow. They are not easy to catch because they go with the flow of the film. For example, there is a dining room scene with Saurabh Shukla and his family, where the scene holds for a long time because the story needs it.

Raid was put together on the editing table because there was a lot of footage that was shot. It was a 1:15 ratio. That is, for every good shot, there were 15 extra shots or sequences that were taken. So, I had to carve out a whole story from the material that was shot. It was like shaping an idol out of clay.

The geographical premise of Raid is limited. Does that make it more difficult to edit?

It is definitely difficult when you have limited space. Once the character is in the house, you cannot focus on anything else except him. Aesthetics take a back seat. The focus of the shot is on the characters and their lines, and they have to be shown in a way… the dialogue, the scenes have to be edited in a way that doesn’t make it boring for the audience. All the devices that you can use are lying in the dialogue scenes and on the people going here and there, their movement. It is difficult because your hands are tied as you don’t have much to play with geographically.

How important is it for an editor to understand the vision of the director to get the right outcome?

The wonderful thing about Raj Kumar Gupta is that he gives the technician he is collaborating with a lot of space, whether the sound designer, cinematographer or me, the editor. He exchanges thoughts but gives us space. He co-wrote Raid and it helped because he gave the right input at times without venturing into the creative space. It was a good collaboration. It was a wonderful experience.

For an editor, it is absolutely necessary to be in sync with the director. If you don’t have that kind of tuning, then things go haywire. At the end of the day, the film will suffer. A director is a visionary who has had the film in his head from day one, from the scripting level to the final stage. He is like the conductor of a symphony, orchestrating the entire thing.

Of course, you can offer your suggestions. Like in Raid, we cut so many options that we ended up with 11 options! We cut the film 11 times with a lot of permutations, combinations and possibilities. Unless you believe in the director and vice versa, you cannot deliver a good product. It is a symbiotic process.

Your next film is 102 Not Out. Did you use a different approach for this film than for Raid as they are of different genres?

Yes, 102 Not Out is my next film, which is releasing on May 4. It was a very different experience because it is a unique, father-son story. It needed an altogether different approach from Raid in terms of editing. It was more an emotional journey, so you had to make sure all those emotions were there. And then there is Mr Amitabh Bachchan in the film, so it is difficult to cut his scenes because each and every time he is on screen, each and every line of his, is so different that you don’t know what to keep. I faced the same problem when I edited Pink. Editing his movies is very difficult because you don’t know what to cut and what to keep. After this project, I will dive into Raj Kumar Gupta’s next film, Most Wanted, which stars Arjun Kapoor.


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