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Interview Hindi

Sanyukta Kaza: Because of Anand Tiwari's clarity, editing Love Per Square Foot became easier

The Ship Of Theseus (2013) editor speaks about her easy working relationship on Netflix’s newest romantic comedy, and why editing documentaries is special.

Sonal Pandya

Mumbai-based film editor Sanyukta Kaza has made quite the name for herself in the last few years after her breakthrough with Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus (2013).

Kaza studied editing at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and got her master’s degree in fine arts at California’s Chapman University.

Soon after, she gained notice editing short films like Anurag Kashyap’s The Last Act (2012), Anand Tiwari’s Haircut (2014), and Ritesh Batra’s Masterchef (2014).

For Lifebuoy’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign in 2015, the four-minute film Chamki, directed by Gandhi, became a Cannes Bronze Lion winner.

The documentary, The Train Leaves At Four (2015), edited by Kaza and directed by Antariksh Jain, was shown at the 17th Mumbai film festival. The same year, she reunited with Tiwari on Yash Raj Films’ web-series, Bang Baaja Baaraat, starring Ali Fazal and Angira Dhar.

For Tiwari’s directorial debut, Love Per Square Foot (2018), the first original film from India to be premiered on Netflix, the director again chose Kaza to bring together the romantic comedy.

Cinestaan.com spoke with Kaza (whose next film is Rahi Barve’s Tumbad) over email about collaborating with directors like Tiwari, Batra and Gandhi, juggling the multiple characters of Love Per Square Foot, and the challenges of editing documentaries. Excerpts:

You have worked with Anand Tiwari and Sumeet Vyas earlier on the web-series Bang Baaja Baaraat and the shorts Haircut and Oye Teri. How was it like collaborating with them again for the feature film, Love Per Square Foot?

Anand, Sumeet and I have been working together for a very long time. Anand is one of the most sincere directors I have worked with. He is one of those who would do his homework with diligence.

Anand and Sumeet are the best of friends. It's very rare to see such solid friendship. I have seen them both just be at it each morning. It's such a joy to see such camaraderie and hard work in an open egoless environment translating into good work.

Working on Bang Bajaa Baaraat and Love Per Square Foot was no exception. The light-hearted comedy which Anand and Sumeet have in their writing is almost missing in today's films.

Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar

Besides the leads Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar, Love Per Square Foot has many interesting supporting characters. How did you balance showing their stories along with the main love story?

The performances were outstanding, whether it was Raghubir Yadav or Ratna Pathak Shah or Supriya Pathak. It's very easy to get carried away when you have such masters of fine acting together in a film. Anand and I had to constantly remind ourselves about sticking to the main plot.

It was so difficult and sometimes heartbreaking to delete certain scenes with the supporting cast out of the main plot. But one has to always keep the larger picture in mind, and everything has to serve that end goal. And I personally feel because of Anand's clarity of that end goal, my job became easier.

How has the experience been of working together on an edit with directors like Anand Gandhi and Ritesh Batra?

Working with Anand Gandhi and Ritesh Batra was a wonderful experience. Both are opposites in their style of working. Anand loves to debate, argue, and extract the reasoning from people. Whereas Ritesh Batra works so closely with himself and his mind. Ritesh and I mostly worked remotely because he was still travelling with The Lunchbox (2013) at that time, but he would give such precise notes with such clarity of thought, which was very fascinating.

Anand, on the other hand, loves to figure things out on the go. He would not know exactly his way around the footage at first, because he likes to improvise, and allows everything to evolve and continues to debate till he finds his answers. Ship Of Theseus was such a tough film to pull off as a debutant. He left me with all his footage for weeks together and let me breathe and figure my own way out. Each director I have worked with is special to me.

What are some of the challenges of editing documentaries, where you have to sort through hours of footage to put together? How do you organize yourself?

Documentaries are very special to me. It's extremely difficult for me to distance myself from the subjects as it is ground reality. I become very emotional during that process. I enjoy editing films/documentaries where the lines are blurry, whether it’s fiction or not.

I am extremely meticulous in organizing, sorting and assembling my rushes in general. I don't like anyone touching my rushes except my assistant. It's like a bank locker in a way.

For Ship Of Theseus, you edited all the footage over seven months to produce the final film. Later, the entire footage was uploaded online for viewers to create their own versions. Have you got a chance to see any of those interpretations? What do you think of this process?

I did get a chance to see one of the versions of the film; it was a good attempt. Also, Ship Of Theseus is a very difficult film to edit. As Anand would shoot scenes straight for 12-15 minutes in one take and we would find cut points from various points within the takes to create a scene.

I think open source is a fantastic idea which helps students and film enthusiasts in understanding filmmaking in general.