Complacency is a word National Award-winning film editor B Ajith Kumar can never be associated with. This student of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, whose tryst with editing motion pictures began by cutting long rolls of films in 1999, has come a long way. With a never-say-die attitude, Kumar keeps himself updated.
His modest production house, Media Mill in Thiruvananthapuram, is a beehive of activity, which ranges from video editing to web-streaming and video installation. “Technology has changed quite a lot. Techniques, formats and standards have improved a lot. Even after learning the fundamentals correctly, we have to keep updating and possess multidisciplinary knowledge,” says Kumar.
During the early days of his profession, raw footage of big budget movies used to be only a max of 10 hours. With technological advancements, 15 to 25 hour-long rushes have become common now. Naturally, there’s more pressure on an editor and the time spent on each project has gone up to two-three months. But it is not in this 39-year-old to grumble. “This happened with the arrival of digital cameras. Not only have the editor’s job, but the efforts of actors and cinematographers too have gone up considerably,” he explains.
Apart from feature films, Kumar has edited documentaries in different Indian languages like Bhojpuri, Bengali and Marathi. When he can’t understand a language, he accompanies the crew to shooting spots and uses interpreters. “Documentaries have much to be determined during the course of editing, whereas feature films can be structured on a pre-defined blueprint,” says Kumar, who decided to become an editor as he believes the field has good career prospects. “Film has the aspects of art and industry in it. Specialisation, hence, is vital. That time, I felt film direction had no big scope,” he says.
Editing never bores Kumar, who believes he can do something “new and different” every time. He started his career as an editing assistant in Mumbai — he was visual editor at Centre for Development of Imaging Technology and then worked at Chitranjali Studio, Thiruvananthapuram. He also freelanced for sometime.
At Chitranjali, he edited 20 films in two years (2000-01). His first feature film was Mollywood’s Angane Oru Avadhikalathu (1999), which he co-edited with Bina Paul Venugopal. His latest movie is Up and Down. He has to his credit three Hindi films — Nandita Das-starrer Ek Alag Mausam (2003), ID (2012) directed by Kamal KM, and Liar’s Dice (2013), a directorial venture of Geetu Mohandas. Kumar, who pursued an MA in English literature from University of Kerala, won National Awards for editing Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Naalu Pennungal (2007), Jyothy Prakash’s directorial venture Athman and a diploma film, Oh Confucius.
At present, he is editing Vasanthathinte Kanal Vazhikaliloode which is directed by Anil Nagendran. But his most challenging work so far was editing Annayum Rasoolum. “The film was perfectly shot and was good performance-wise. Hence, editing such a movie was not easy,”
he remarks. Kumar finds it difficult to pick his favourite editor because his nature is to observe a film on the whole and so cannot pick a particular name.”
Life and learning
Education, to him, is beyond scoring good marks in the exams. Yet, he gave due importance to studies and extracurricular activities. College helped shape his outlook and learn more about life. “My social life was so rewarding and entertaining and creative skills were sharpened by the active involvement in youth festivals,” he says. His two cents for aspiring artists is that they should observe life more carefully and make a conscious effort to make it fine.