Namrata Rao believes in letting the internal rhythm of the film unfold on her editing screen without imposing her style on it. Thus going over the rushes umpteen times is one of her main tools to get the edit right. Last Friday saw the release of Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2 while this Friday brings Aditya Chopra’s Befikre to the audience, both the films have been cut by the ace editor’s informed eyes.

Here she talks to Pandolin about paying special attention to certain aspects of the fast – paced thriller, cutting the new – age love story and why editing should be hidden behind the film’s story.

MUMBAI, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Film editor Namrata Rao poses for a profile shoot on September 23, 2015 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint via Getty Images)

Having worked in the romance genre with films like Band Baaja Baraat and Jab Tak Hai Jaan, how different was the approach to Befikre? How would you describe the editing style adopted?

Befikre is different from these two films because it’s not just about love but questioning our ideas about it in the current times of hook-ups, speed dating, Tinder. I try not to have a ‘style’ as such – for me it’s about reacting to the rushes, the characters and their world.


What is the most interesting part of editing a love story? Also, what are the challenges? 

The characters have to work! You have to believe in their world, their aspirations and choices. And of course, why they love each other. These are the challenges and also the fun of doing these films. Being the first audience, if they can touch me, usually they touch the audience. And of course, the reverse is also true. (smiles)

Sound brings life to scenes and makes them real, to a large extent

This was also the first time that an editor of a film was on set watching the shoot throughout. What was the thought behind it? Was it a helpful process? 

I think so. I edited the film in order, which was very helpful for the graph of the characters. Also, it helped the director make decisions according to how the characters, their chemistry and the story was developing.


Befikre -

Moving to your other film, Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2, how different was the approach this time round as compared to Kahaani? Were there any specific requirements from the director?

Kahaani was about a woman in a foreign city, so a lot of focus was on weaving the city into the story. Kahaani 2 was about the relationship between Vidya (Balan) and the young girl so it was more intimate in that sense. Sujoy’s brief was that there shouldn’t be any flab in the film and it should be relentless.


What role does sound play in a thriller? Do you have a sound library or work with material from the sound department? 

Sound is like good health – you miss it only when it’s bad. Sound is one of the most important pillars of storytelling in films. I can’t stress its importance enough. It’s what brings life to scenes and makes them real, to a large extent. It also hides a lot of flaws. I work with sound in all films, irrespective of whether it’s a thriller or not. It helps me communicate my intentions better.

After the rough cut, one watches the rushes with a different, more informed eye

 Any particular sequence in the film that demanded special attention? 

The parts in Kalimpong which have Vidya’s voice-overs took a lot of time because this is where you really understand Durga, her relationship with Mini, her past and her need to be ‘invisible’. There was a lot of footage and it took me a while to find my rhythm there – the images had to make sense with the voice over, without overdoing it but bringing out the correct emotion.


Do you have a trademark style of editing, something that remains intact while the projects might change?

I hope not! In the beginning of my career, I might have been a little ‘show-offy’ sometimes, but now it’s really about hiding behind the story. I don’t want the editing to be noticed at all. It’s only about reacting to the rushes and the director’s vision. So no, there’s no style (laughs).


Are there contributions/suggestions you share in terms of ideas for shots, montages etc., before the shoot begins?

I give my feedback on the script but don’t like to get into the taking etc. That’s the director’s territory. After the first cut is over, if I feel that we could benefit with some new shots or reactions, then I do say and push for it of course.

I try not to have a ‘style’ as such – it’s mostly about reacting to the rushes, the characters and their world

What is it that you look for when you start watching the rushes?

I watch rushes many, many times. After almost every cut. You don’t want to miss anything that could help enhance the performances and the scenes. Also after the rough cut, one watches the rushes with a different, more informed eye and it works similarly after the first and the final cut.