We don’t teach our kids how to function around women ~ Sanyukta Kaza, Film Editor
The Mumbai based FTII, Pune video editing grad did her masters of fine arts at Chapman University (Los Angeles, California). After a brief internship at Focus Features, she went on to cut several film trailers and shorts; most notably Anand Tiwari’s (Haircut), Ritesh Batra’s (Masterchef) for Sundance, Anurag Kashyap’s (The Last Act) and Anand Gandhi’s ( Chamki- which won the Cannes Lion). She also has to her credit a range of documentaries -The Train leaves at 4 by Antariksh Jain ( MAMI and Miff ) and The Last Mile by Mamta Murthy. She has also edited an extensive range of advertising commercials.
The very talented Sanyukta Kaza is also widely known for editing the national award winning Ship of Theseus (2013) and was lauded for giving it a sublime rhythm and structural tautness while keeping its nuances, humor and essence intact.
She has also ventured into web series, with Bang Baajaa Baaraat with Y films. Her latest feature, ‘Love per square foot’, a romantic comedy, directed by Anand Tiwari and produced by Ronnie Screwala, is credited to be the first Netflix Original from India.
Sanyukta just completed editing an even more ambitious VFX heavy epic Tumbad directed by Rahi Bharve and produced by Little Town Films, a thrilling period fantasy drama with elements of horror in it, expected to release mid 2018.
We catchup with her to understand what floats her editing boat.
How did editing happen? Did you always want to?
I always wanted to tap into my artistic side, but somehow that never worked out. I did my bachelor’s in mass media (B.M.M. from K.C) to help me break into the advertising world. But the end of the first year of college, I knew that my two big strengths were my ability to visualize and my knack to convert my thoughts into something real—whether it’s an image or a video. I was a self-taught Photoshop /Corel draw expert in class, and I loved the technology component of creating something visual. When I was doing my class projects, I really liked the process of putting things together and making something totally new. This combination of visuals and technology is really what got me in interested in editing. So I first went to FTII to study editing and then later did MFA in video editing from CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY. I think Chapman was the best decision of my life. It just groomed to the direction I needed to be.
Men in the country are trained from birth to not take women who think or work, seriously. So the only way for us to get heard and acknowledged is to keep banging away till they have no choice but to sit and hear us.
How is it different to edit Ads, shorts, documentaries and full length features?
Editing tvcs , shorts , documentaries , web series , promos and features are all different. Each of the Mediums have their own pace and story telling styles. For example the audience for web series doesn’t have the patience what a feature film audience have. Essentially the rhythm changes for all the mediums .
What is your editing process?
I always read the script and then speak at length with the director on his vision. I love to go under the skin of the characters, understand where they come from which helps me build them through the film. As a result, I am able to see loopholes, if there are any, in how a character behaves or if the established logic of the film is being broken at some point in the narrative. And that is my job too. To spot these things and either eliminate them and hide them in a way that the film seems absolutely coherent. I also make a lot of notes through all stages of the process. I try not to re-read the script as I do like to start with a clean slate by the time footage comes to me.
At what stage do you think an editor needs to decide what is kept and what is not kept in the film?
After the first cut is when the editor and the director decide on what can go. The process of taking scenes and putting back scenes and elements of the scenes is an on going process through the editing. It happens till the very end of the final cut, and sometimes even after that.
What’s more fun vs more challenging? Films or ads?
FILMS FILMS FILMS.
When you look at a wider picture editing is easily becoming one job where the women are leading, while men dominate other jobs in the film industry? What do you thing are the reasons for this pattern to develop?
Thelma Schoonmaker once said as an editor `You have to keep banging away at something until you get it to work. I think most women are maybe better at that.’ Because anyway men in the country are trained from birth to not take women who think or work, seriously. So the only way for us to get heard and acknowledged is to keep banging away till they have no choice but to sit and hear us. General stereotyping like women cant drive, cant be thinkers, good at maths, or technically strong is very common. We as a community aren’t really aware or teach our kids how to function around women. We are quite regressive in general and our popular culture is a reflection of that. The only way to deal with it is by fighting it every day by making a noise about it, by calling out people, by doing your job in the best possible way you can, by learning everyday, by working harder than everyone else, by being sincere and diligent at your work, by having a strong ethical code for yourself, by fighting for your credit, your pay, and most importantly by fighting for your right to just be and seen and heard. I think we have a good number and quality of female editors in the industry. And I guess all of them fight it every day and come out victorious every time.
Who are your favourite film editors in India?
I really like the works of Renu Saluja , Shimit amin , Deepa Bhatia and Apurva Asrani
What are some of your most favourite editing works in Hindi Cinema?
Gopi Gayan bhaga baayen , Abhimaan, Jaane bhi do yaaron
What do you think are the projects you want to work on a regular basis?
Personally, I am mostly drawn to characters and stories that work within the realm of some logic and reasoning. I really enjoy films where there are multiple characters or stories all taking place at the same time- much like how life functions. I find dabbling with this inter-relatedness, and consequences of actions very interesting. I enjoy stories where there are opportunities to play with structures and rhythm. Anything that forces me to find a new way of effectively telling the story. I really enjoy taking risks.