I dedicate the praise to all the editors: 'Maanaadu' editor Praveen KL

The film editor, who touched the milestone of 100 films with Maanaadu, elaborates on his editing style, his association with Venkat Prabhu, and more

Published: 09th December 2021 08:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2021 08:31 AM   |  A+A-

Still from 'Maanaadu'

Still from 'Maanaadu'

Express News Service

Editor Praveen KL uses an analogy to explain why he believes cinema truly happens on the editing desk. “It’s like visualising a story while reading a book. The more you imagine, the more you travel with the story. Editing is something similar. It is the narrative,” he says. Maanaadu, which marks Praveen’s 100th film as an editor, has been particularly lauded for its editing; Praveen finds all the appreciation overwhelming.

“I respect the audience’s intelligence. Maanaadu is a film that allows the audience to dissect technical aspects like editing. At the end of the day, it’s such positive responses that we all strive for,” he says. Departments like editing have generally been thought to be ‘invisible jobs’, with the ‘seen jobs’ including acting, directing, and cinematography. Praveen sees this changing and attributes that to the global exposure that the Indian audience has been getting through OTT platforms. “I dedicate all of this praise to all the editors.”

Interestingly, Praveen’s first film, 50th, and 100th film have all been directed by Venkat Prabhu, a director Praveen considers to be family. “It’s all a coincidence really. I knew that the 50th would be Masss, but the 100th film turning out to be Maanaadu was an accident.” The editor is integral to Venkat’s whole process, including being the first to listen to the story. “If we are not convinced as a director or editor, there is no point trying to convince the audience.” Praveen believes that a pattern in his work for Venkat Prabhu films is to figure “how much needs to be explained”. “For example, in Biriyani, he wrote a scene featuring a flash mob. It was all the rage back then in cities, but would someone from a small village understand it? So, we had to explain this through a dialogue. I help provide such inputs,” he explains.

Maanaadu was a different ball game though, that demanded the collective inputs of every important crew member. While some of it was planned in advance, the rest was done on a trial-and-error basis, reveals Praveen. “The process was new for all of us, and we saw it as a make-or-break situation.” While old time-loop films like Groundhog Day, A Day, or Edge of Tomorrow, get referenced in the film, the editor says that he couldn’t rely on any of them for assistance. “The one-liner is of a Muslim guy getting trapped by evil forces who want to assassinate the Chief Minister. It’s quite different, even if the time loop factor changes everything.”

The film took as many as 90 days to be finished, says Praveen, who explains that the initial idea to make each subsequent time-loop ‘quicker and tighter’ was followed strictly. “Loop 1 sees the entire story, while loop 2 has only about 80 percent of loop 1. This goes on until the final loop when there’s no separate exclusive shot from the beginning.”

Editing is a time-loop job in a sense, given that editors end up watching the same footage over and over again. Praveen laughs and shares that while he doesn’t get bored, being stuck in a film for a long time—like in the case of Maanaadu—can bring certain other issues to the fore. “Your brain encourages you to ignore even obvious mistakes and convinces you that it is all fine.” This is why Praveen would often put the project on temporary hold—for about a week or so—and move on to another project. “When I returned, I would always get a fresh perspective.”

After 100 films, Praveen notes all the changes that have taken place over the years, particularly concerning his own judgment of cinema. Early in his career, he didn’t mind doing films with conflicting sensibilities. “I have regretted choosing certain films, but over the last six years, I have been careful to pick my films,” he adds.

Editing has been an underappreciated art form, with many bringing it only when discussing the duration of a film. Praveen shares some examples of what he considers to be films that feature terrific editing: “Shawshank Redemption, Aruvi, Jersey, Driving License, Ayyapanum Koshiyum, Nayattu… Any film that sells an emotion well, without sending you back into your world. 

The best-edited films pull you into an emotion and keep you travelling till the end.” It’s a statement that quite applies to his most recent film, the successful Maanaadu.


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