A cut apart

A cut apart

Video editing

A cut apart

Editing is said to be one of the most thankless jobs in the film industry and it’s true. While most people recognise the director and actors of a movie, and might even appreciate the editing, they aren’t likely to know the name of the editor. This is why the name Shivkumar Panicker sounds unfamiliar.

A newcomer to Bollywood, the seasoned ad film editor is known for his work in ‘Kapoor and Sons’, and the soon-to-be-released ‘Budhia Singh – Born To Run’. His work has been appreciated by the likes of director Anurag Kashyap, who called the editing in ‘Kapoor and Sons’ “incredible”.

In a chat with Ananya Revanna, Shivkumar talks about his journey so far and how editing advertisements is different from feature films.

Did you always want to be an editor?

I never thought I’d become one. After my graduation I wrote quite a few entrance exams for MCA and while I was waiting for the results I took up an internship at a well-known studio as an assistant editor. I really liked the experience and decided to pursue it. So, it was sort of an accident!

You’ve mainly worked on ad films. What made you take up Bollywood features?

I never pursued feature films as such. It just happened. I was quite lucky to get offers to cut films so I gave it a try and really enjoyed the experience.

How did you land your first feature film (‘Budhia Singh – Born To Run’)?

I had worked with the producers of ‘Budhia Singh – Born To Run’, Subrat Ray and Gajraj Rao, earlier.  They were looking for an editor to cut this film and sent me the script, asking if I was interested in working on it. After reading the script, I said yes.

And what about ‘Kapoor and Sons’?

I just got lucky with ‘Kapoor and Sons’. They wanted to work with someone else but that editor was busy with another project so I filled in. Director Shakun Batra liked advertisements made by ‘Curious Films’ and I’ve been fortunate enough to work on almost all their ads. That’s how we met.

Now that you’ve edited advertisements and feature films, which one do you prefer?

They both have their pros and cons. When it comes to ads, it’s quick money, easier to handle and less time consuming. But you have just 30 or 40 seconds to tell a story and a lot of people are involved in deciding the final edit, which means you have to meet all their expectations. This limits your creative freedom. In features, you have a bigger canvas to work on and get creative satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Also, it’s nice to see your name on the big screen! However, one film takes a lot of time and isn’t always financially feasible. All in all, editing features is far more satisfying.

What kind of films do you want to work on?

Any kind, as long as the script is interesting and makes sense.

As a newcomer to Bollywood, what was your first impression of the industry?

Luckily, both the production houses I worked with — Code Red and Dharma Productions — were really good so I didn’t have any bad experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Shakun and Soumendra (Padhi).

The most common mistake editors make when cutting?

Getting carried away and thinking that they are always correct; assuming that other people, including the directors, are fools.

What’s your signature style of editing?

There can’t be a signature style as each movie has a different story and emotion. The editing style will vary. I just try to keep a story simple, without spoon feeding the viewer. And I don’t like to be repetitive. I have seen many movies that do this; it’s unnecessary.

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