Article Bengali Hindi

Raajhorshee De recalls editor Sanjib Datta's desire to be involved in a film from day 1

Sanjib Datta, the accomplished editor of close to 80 Hindi and Bengali films, died last month of multiple organ failure. He was just 53.

Roushni Sarkar

Film editor Sanjib Kumar Datta died on 15 September aged only 53. The passionate editor of films like 3 Deewarein (2003), Ek Hasina Thi (2004), Iti Srikanta (2004), Iqbal (2005), Mardaani (2014), Shaheb Bibi Golaam (2016) and Pataakha (2018) died of multiple organ failure.

In his two-decade career Datta edited close to 80 Hindi and Bengali films. Datta was a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) at Pune. His demise was mourned, among others, by directors Raajhorshee De, Pratim D Gupta and Dhrubo Banerjee, who worked with him recently.

De, who also launched the channel Zee Bangla Cinema, worked with Datta on four consecutive films — Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Ashbei, Birpurush, Subho Noboborsho and Riffle — which are yet to be released.

While working with him, not only did De's admiration for the artiste known for his work all over the country grow, but Datta’s zeal to be involved at every stage of making a film also inspired him. Speaking to Cinestaan about their association, De became quite emotional and repeatedly said it is hard to believe he is no more.

De also bonded with Datta into a familial relationship as the latter's wife Debasrita happened to be a colleague. “We used to work for a channel together, but it was only after some time that I came to know her husband is none other than the legend who has edited one of my favourite thrillers Ek Hasina Thi,” he said. De described Datta as one of the finest editors of India.

In 2016, De happened to play a minor role in Pratim D Gupta’s Shaheb Bibi Golaam. “As a friend, Pratim requested me to play Swastika’s [actress Swastika Mukherjee's] husband in the film. At the premiere show of Shaheb Bibi Golaam, I got introduced to Sanjib-da. He appreciated my act in the film” said De of the man who edited most of Nagesh Kukunoor’s films.

When De approached Datta to edit his own Birpurush, he was surprised by his desire to be involved from the script-reading stage. “I had never been acquainted with an editor who wanted to be present at the script reading with the rest of the cast and crew,” he said.

“We worked continuously for two and a half years since and became a family as an editor and a director grow into one while working together,” he said.

De also recalled the last time they spoke: “It was three days before he left us. We came out of the editing studio and Sanjib-da handed us the censored copy of Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Ashbei. We also prepared the first part of Riffle that day. We knew Sanjib-da had to undergo a bypass surgery after two days and hence told him, 'Comrade, we want you to be totally fit and fine on 28 September for the trailer and music launch of Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Ashbei.' He assured us that he would be present, there is nothing to worry.”

As the show had to go on, De and his team decided to dedicate the entire evening of 28 September to him. “I cannot process the fact that Sanjib-da is no more. Now all my four films will be released one after the other and he will be with me throughout the journey,” he said.

“It is my honour that he became part of my journey. My films are entirely built by his hands. Someone else might fine-tune them, but the films are primarily the result of his tireless work.”

De said he had never thought he would get to work with artistes of the stature of Datta, cinematographer Ranjan Palit and music director Debajyoti Mishra and Datta on the shooting floor of Purbo Poschim Dokkhin Uttor Ashbei would always remain a fond memory. “He used to complete all his work and reach the floor everyday," the director said. "He would sit with me at the monitor and I would take his suggestions regarding the shots. I have not seen any other editor sit with a director throughout the process the way Sanjib-da did.”

As the film's cinematographer Palit is also an FTII alumnus, he and Datta used to have great professional chemistry on the floor. Their discussions often inspired the freshman director.

Rabiranjan Maitra, another editor of repute and a graduate of the FTII, has acted in Birpurush. To have two editors on the floor, one acting and the other editing, was an interesting ride for De.

Datta always made sure to attend each and every event in the filmmaking process. He attended the mahurat of Riffle as well. “As far as cinema is concerned, Sanjib-da was part of every journey of mine so far,” said De of the punctual and dedicated editor.