Ranjan Abraham on the daunting task of editing ‘Hridayam’ | entertainment interview

Although Covid has given the film industry a terrible time, popular director Vineeth Sreenivasan has kept his word. His latest film “Hridayam”, starring Pranav Mohanlal, was released in theaters on January 21 itself, at a time when the nation was at the crossroads of the pandemic. With excellent cinematography from Viswajith and stunning music from Hisham, the film saw moviegoers head to theaters. But the one person who has magically transformed Vineeth’s visual narrative into the right big-screen setting is famed editor Ranjan Abraham, who has over 100 movies to his name. Ranjan, who made his debut in ‘Oru Maravathoor Kanavu’, won the State Film Award for ‘CID Moosa’. In a freewheeling chat with Onmanorama, Ranjan Abraham talks about his strenuous efforts in the editing room where he cut and stitched the visuals and footage with all the dexterity of a surgeon to do full justice to the dream that took shape. in Vineeth’s listen.

Was in a solution to shoot beautiful best scenes

“Hridyam” (translated as “Heart”) was a project that was dear to me and worked with all my heart. Honestly, as an editor, it was painful to put scissors on ‘Hridayam’. The project kept me on my toes throughout the lockdown. I have to admit that the two years I worked on the film were truly fascinating, as Vineeth has the unique ability to elevate your energy levels to greater heights. Not just ‘Hridayam’, let it be any of his projects, Vineeth would always tell me “Chetta (brother), contact me only after you are satisfied with the work. As we were leaving on ‘Hridayam’, he wanted that I compress the film to three hours. But I had told him that it was impossible to get a theatrical release for a feature film. “Man, we should be able to limit it to two and a half hours at least”, told him I said. However, when I sat down at the editing table, even I was struggling to cut the beautiful scenes chosen by Vineeth. Leaving the best scenes untouched, I did the trimming after assessing the potential of each scene and shot while advancing the story. My goal was to do the cutting without losing the “feel” of the film.

Put yourself in the shoes of a spectator during the editing

I am a person with the mindset of an ordinary man. As an editor, I focus on every project from the viewer’s perspective and follow the principle that scenes should keep the viewer hooked on the screen. The job is to make sure that each scene is diligently presented incorporating as much showmanship as possible. The film should not have an element of boredom even if there are no songs or effects. I was pretty sure the final output would be enhanced with music and effects.

Was it difficult to place the 15 songs

The songs were aptly crafted to fit into their proper place. Initially, there were only eight songs. As the editing progressed, I told Hashim that the number of songs was bound to increase. During the break after the first program, more songs were incorporated. Vineeth had a clear thought regarding the scenes that had the potential of the musical soundtrack and they were also mentioned in the script.

I was puzzled when Vineeth posted that the movie had 15 songs. “Vineeth, are you sure you’re going to continue with these many songs? Won’t it look like a musical concert? I asked him. But Vineeth, looking confident, told me he had no intention of changing his mind. All the songs were precisely nestled in their correct positions. The songs blend beautifully with the narrative that at one point I myself suggested including another short song to add value to a particular scene. They help viewers to become more attached to the movie. Sheet music tends to fail when a movie features songs that don’t fit the plot.

Vineeth, a passionate and dedicated filmmaker

The one thing I like about Vineeth is that he is very committed and invests a lot in his work. He is part of the young breed of filmmakers who are very passionate about their work and do a lot of homework before a project. So it’s only natural that people like me, when working with Vineeth, unwittingly fall into a similar groove. He told me about ‘Hridayam’ in 2018 and gave a general overview of the story. Since then, Vineeth has been improvising and embellishing the idea of ​​the story to give a well-crafted release. It’s more than just a delightful and equally energizing experience to sync with the excitement of Vineeth in the workplace. He has a remarkable understanding of the essentials of storytelling and how a story can be wrapped up to achieve the desired effect.

Next generation editing is a complex affair

Editing tools have undergone drastic changes over time. Unlike in the past, today all work is done on a computer. Although it gives the impression that the computer facilitates the work, the process has become more complex. From the shooting, the digital format erased the restrictions on shooting. The editor’s job becomes complicated and arduous to create scenes and song sequences from an endless number of camera shots.

Ranjan Abraham (L) and late director Sachy

Ayyappan and Koshy

My main concern when making a film is that it be captivating enough not to let the audience take their eyes off the screen. In ‘Ayyappan and Koshy’ I continued the timing and rhythm of the dialogue between the two central characters – Ayyapan and Koshy. Also, it’s not a feature film. Later, while watching the movie, I was upset to find that I had cut out part of my favorite scene. Although the final editing of the film had been completed by then, I had incorporated a few additional scenes.

In order to reduce the length of the film, a significant part of Ayyappan and Koshy’s bicycle trip had to be cut. But later I felt I should have kept it. The ultimate goal is to maintain the essence and pulse of the film, and so editors are required to omit certain footage. For example, when editing ‘Classmates’, I had to exclude many scenes. With deep pain, I remember deleting two scenes from Jayasurya. Understanding my situation, filmmaker Lal Jose himself encouraged me: “Don’t get angry. Pray for the film to be a success. There have been many such memorable experiences.

I had worked with many people older than me, but it never created any discomfort in my career. We treated each other like colleagues and we could get along well. I was neither too nervous to think of them as older colleagues, nor to pose as an overbearing young man for that matter. Such attitudes are sure to ruin your career as a dedicated worker. I’m never afraid to express my opinion openly, whether other people like it or not, and I’m not particular about people agreeing with my point of view. I only express my point of view when there is a solid reason. There were cases where I had retained certain scenes going against the will of the director.

Who is an editor

There is a notion that an editor is a person who cuts down the most important shots. The director, reading the script from a screenwriter, visualizes it in different frames. The visuals designed in the minds of the directors are converted into cinematographic language by the editor. That’s my impression of the edit. The person who instilled confidence in my work was Navodaya Jijo Sir. He made a lot of comments when he saw my works. Once he asked me, “Ranjan, why can’t you bring the final version of the film before it’s sent for dubbing?” “In that case, the director wouldn’t have the opportunity to take one last call,” I replied. “Mr. Ranjan, once the filming is over, you are the director,” he said.

Ranjan Abraham (L) with actress Darshana Rajendran

Youthful sounding ‘Darshana’ song

There was a critical point while editing the song ‘Darshana’ for Hridayam’. Vineeth wanted me to work on the visuals in a full song template as he was preparing for promotional purposes. At that time, it was noticed that the song could not be played all at once and had to be split. Vineeth gave the green light. After that, the beats sounded good and when the BGM was played corresponding to the scene of the proposal, the plans went well. The song turned out to be a smash hit. During the lockdown period, I was held up in Kochi and Vineeth in Chennai and we were unable to meet. I only sent him the song late at night. He replied, “Chetta go to bed, I’ll call you tomorrow morning.” By the time I woke up, my inbox was flooded with messages from Vineeth. “In one go, I watched the song 25 times,” he said. Can you imagine the 3 minute song was chiselled from six and a half hour footage!

After Hridayam hit theaters, a friend of mine who watched the movie sent a voicemail: “I felt that you enjoyed every moment of work in the movie and put your heart and soul into it. .” Frankly, I was concerned about the release of the film at that time. It shook the confidence I had while working for ‘Hridayam’. On the eve of the film’s launch, I asked Vineeth if we should do some editing to avoid criticism once the film is released. The other day when I went to see the movie, the owner of the theater approached me and said, “You could have reduced the number of songs.” I didn’t say anything but smiled when he said he hadn’t watched the movie. If he had seen the film, his opinion would have been different, in my opinion. This was an area that Vineeth and I had discussed time and time again. As Vineeth says, the matter has been discussed many times and closed. Let it be like this. Now that the film has been released in theaters, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction and joy. For the first time, my phone is flooded with calls and messages. I feel ecstatic, to say the least.