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Interpreting The Story

Aarti Bajaj says that working with Imtiaz Ali is like attending a Master Class in filmmaking as he teaches something new every day and that for Tamasha, she stood by his vision on the edit table

On The Brief

Imtiaz Ali usually works with the same team. And the best part about him is that he briefs his team well in advance. So when he finished his third draft, he briefed me about the film. It’s not like I came on board a month before the film started rolling. I was aware of the film and its concept during the initial stages itself.

On Imtiaz Ali

With him, it’s always a tough process. Nevertheless, he listens to what the people around him have to say and uses that feedback. Another interesting thing about him is that he works with a bound script even if things change on the sets. So even if the scene evolves, the narration remains more or less the same. He is particular about everything and he trusts the people he hires. Imtiaz sketches his characters in a very realistic style. Since one needs to fully understand those characters, I took my time to grow with the script.

The second half of the film took a lot of time to edit. Imtiaz made me understand the emotions in the film, and I couldn’t relate to it for around 25 days. Suddenly, I understood everything and edited the entire second half in just two days!

On What To Cut

I prefer blending with the characters and making them my own. After all, my work is an interpretation of the story and the characters. That’s when my rhythm as an editor kicks in. It is also my job to keep the length of the film in check while also allowing the story to flow.

One needs to stitch the story together properly to convey the director’s vision. I might like a scene but not include it in the first edited version. I keep it for the second stage of editing as it might not go with the flow. This is especially true of a film like Tamasha, where the story has complex layers. The story goes back and forth in time. So I had to be extra-careful while editing it.

Imtiaz himself says, ‘If something is not going with the film, throw it out, no matter how beautiful the scene is.’ So, working with him is like attending a Master Class, where you get to learn something new almost every day.

On Editing

Experience helps one grow and that’s what happened with me. As the editor of the film, I was meant to give the film the pace that its story demanded. But when you cut a film in a certain way, the placement of each scene is very important. If you don’t get that right, the film takes a toss.

Just as a director can’t get attached to everything he shoots for a film, an editor you can’t grow too attached to a scene. The editor needs to view the scene against the backdrop of the larger picture and determine whether or not it syncs with the narration of the story. Every film has its own language and, as an editor, it is my prerogative to follow my instinct with regard to what to keep and what not to in a film.

Post Trailer

After the trailers released, everyone said Tamasha looked like a regular film but it was not. Being a team member, I knew the film had more to offer so the feedback post the trailer release did not affect my vision. I was editing the film with Imtiaz’s instinct. I knew the audience would walk out with a smile on their face.

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