Editor R Nirmal has rarely given interviews. The timid, young editor chose to stay away from the limelight ever since his debut with Saattai in 2012. The arrival of Beast, his biggest project yet, however, changed things for Nirmal. The hype and anticipation surrounding the project turned the cameras and lights toward him, and Nirmal has finally decided to open up.
Beast marks the third collaboration between Nirmal and filmmaker Nelson, after Kolamavu Kokila and Doctor. Speaking about their association and his contribution to shaping a film from its nascency, Nirmal says in his polite baritone, “With Nelson sir, we discuss the story as a one-liner before going on the floors and if there are aspects that need corrections, we address them on a story-level itself.”
Nirmal adds that Nelson is receptive to feedback, and it gives the editing team space to posit ideas for the betterment of the film. “There have been few instances where we have pointed out issues like the tone and mood of a scene, and Nelson sir is all ears if the suggestions sharpen the film,” Nirmal shares.
One of the primary jobs of an editor, who is the first audience of a film, is to bring a new perspective to the vision of a filmmaker who has spent months on writing and filming. “If a scene sticks out like a sore thumb in the narrative, I communicate it to the filmmaker, and if they believe that it’s integral to the proceedings, then we go ahead with it. Else, we let it go.”
One of the most successful editors in the field, A Sreekar Prasad, once stated that he watches the rushes when the film is under production and shares his takeaways with the filmmaker, allowing them to rectify the issues right from the next day of the shoot. Nirmal reveals that he shares a similar dynamic with Nelson. “For instance, the team asked for my suggestion about the scenes, whether they worked or not, before dismantling the film’s set. We would receive the rushes the very next day after they are shot, and we would immediately give our feedback to Nelson sir.”
Beyond these creative and storytelling choices, Nirmal is likely to remember Beast as a milestone, both on a professional and personal front. Being an ardent admirer of Vijay, Nirmal shares that he had a sense of accomplishment while working on the film. “Vijay sir is the topmost hero right now and happiness of being associated with his film is natural. I remember watching the rushes of a fight scene on the first day. Semmaya pannaru. When he performed so brilliantly, as a fan, it inspired me to work with double the force from the first frame to the last.”