"100 minutes of Naachiyaar,
working with Bala,
Arjun Reddy remake Varma
& more

Editor Sathish Suriya

Bala directed Naachiyaar is the cynosure of all industry eyes right now for two reasons - 1. It is the shortest Bala film with a run-time of mere 100 minutes and 2. It is said to have a positive ending unlike other Bala films. We at MovieCrow decided to get to the bottom of this unusual feat and spoke to the only other man than the director himself, who could shed some light on this. Editor Sathish Suriya, who many may recognise as the editor of Irudhi Suttru / Saala Khadoos / Guru is usually media-shy but he obliged to open up exclusively for us and excerpts from the Q&A session that followed can be found below :

Firstly congratulations on Naachiyaar. It's a big deal to be a part of a Bala film..How did the offer come along?

Sudha Kongara (director of Irudhi Suttru) had worked with Bala in Paradesi and when Bala watched Irudhi Suttru, he had really liked my work in it. Eventually, he signed me up for Naachiyaar in December, 2016.

There are multiple reports about Naachiyaar's run-time and how it is probably Bala's shortest film. As an editor, how easy / difficult was it for you to handle the cuts?

Once the movie is sent for post-production, all sorts of information starts getting out (laughs). Yes, the movie is short when compared to other Bala films but a run-time is not something which is pre-determined. One does not decide the duration of a movie and work. It comes with the flow of story and screenplay. With Naachiyaar, the pre-dubbed duration of the film was close to 2 hours, probably 1 hour and 50 minutes but then when Bala and I sat down for the cuts, it was reduced to 100 minutes.

The duration has nothing to do with the work of an editor. We work according to the screen-flow and there were no challenges as such with respect to the time.

So keeping the run-time aside, what is the biggest challenge you face while editing a film in today's day and date?

Well, some directors find it very difficult to let go of their work which I do not blame because it is their work at the end of the day. They would have invested a certain amount of time or would have shot it a particular way or the location used could be of importance to them. But one should understand, an editor is the first audience of any film.

I have worked in about 22 films and I take care of all my edits without assistants right from the first cut. So if I feel that certain scenes are not working or a particular comedy has fallen flat or the length of the song can be reduced, it can become a task to take it up with the directors and have it cut in the most suitable way. After all, the aim is to always not disturb the flow or have any fluctuations in the pace of the film.

Though I must add, I have never had this trouble with Sreekar Prasad (Sathish Suriya's former mentor & award-winning editor), Mani Ratnam (worked as an assistant editor in Ayutha Ezhuthu, Yuva (Hindi), Guru and Raavan) or Bollywood director Rajkumar Hirani (producer of Saala Khadoos), who usually have a clear-cut view of what they want but are also all ears if you are suggestive of something.

Speaking of those legendary names, what was your experience working with them? If you could draw a parallel..

Well I view every director I work with as even. One thing common about every one of them is they eager to make things work and have the passion to drive them. I have worked for Mani Ratnam through Sreekar Prasad in four films and he is someone who would not even look at an edited version of a scene if he knows that he has not included it in the film. Such kind of clarity is very rare to come across.

Rajkumar Hirani tries to avoid patch-work and re-shoots to the maximum. He would analyse what we have in hand and try and see if something could be created out of it. Also he is someone who with every cut shows it to his own set of audience. There would be an auto driver to a cab owner to who not and all their feedback are taken into consideration. That's how he works.

Sudha Kongara and Bala are both hard-working and passionate directors. They push you towards wanting what they want and Bala especially is relentless in getting exactly what he needs. I've wondered at times as to how I would be able to give that to him but eventually he ends up extracting the desired output.

You make editing sound like an interesting job to be in. If someone were to take it up today, what would be your word of advice to them?

I do not come from an editing background. I used to be what they call the easy-go-lucky people, who passed exams without studying too hard. While my initial career of accounting was planned for me, I took a decision to join Apt Tv, where I was introduced to the sound room and everything related to editing ended up working with them for four years. When I jumped ship to SS Music in 2001 I was salaried at Rs. 10 K but Madras Talkies (Mani Ratnam's production house) were offering me only Rs. 6 K. But I took it up knowing that it was a good opportunity and that that was what I wanted to do. My point is one should have that passion and love what they do and never give up on the opportunities that come along their way.

We did not have any dedicated courses during our time but these days, aspiring editors equip themselves with the basic knowledge of editing tools and software. That wouldn't hurt either.

You have two releases on Feb 16, 2018 - Naachiyaar in Tamil and Manasukku Nachindi in Telugu. What can the audience expect from these two?

Naachiyaar involves a love story and runs around the investigation surrounding it. It also touches upon the social issues we see these days. The ending will be very different in this film. Manasukku Nachindi features Sundeep (Kishan) and Amyra (Dastur) and is a love story as well. It is a love triangle story to be precise.

A few days from your film's release, all South Indian film industries including Tamil and Telugu might possibly see no films in theatres, in opposition to the rates charged by Digital Service providers like QUBE. What's your take on it?

Yes I heard it could possibly start from March 1 but I feel it wouldn't go to the level of no film releases. People would definitely achieve an amicable solution before that.

Any plans of venturing into acting / directing / producing?

(Laughs) I have dreamt of directing for sure but I am happy with my work for now. I do not have any plans as such but nothing is certain in this world.

What are your future projects?

I am working with 180 director Jayendra Panchapakesan in the Telugu film Naa Nuvve. It has (Nandamuri) Kalyan Ram and Tamanaah in it. In Tamil, I have Prabhu Deva starrer film which is produced by Passion Studios.

What about Arjun Reddy's Tamil remake Varma? We heard that you are working on that too..

Nothing is official for now..