Interview Team : D Meera Chithirappaavai, Jyothsna, Ashok Kumar
The whole eloquence of a film is brought about in an edit table. Few people even compare shooting to shopping and editing as the main process of cooking where the shopped ingredients are put together in right proportions in the right sequence. Antony L Ruben is one busy editor in our K-Town who has rendered his work for the current sensation, Vijay’s Theri. Engaging in a conversation with Ruben was as pacy and crisp as his cuts. Read on to discover the thoughts of this man with digital scissors!
''Vijay sir appreciated my work in Vedalam as he had watched the film''

Editor's work is sometimes refereed to as the thankless job as most of the time it goes unnoticed. How does it feel to be practicing this as your profession?

I strongly believe in the principle of seamless tailoring of the footage

  World cinema’s understanding of editing is, the way a film is presented. The primary task is to connect the film with its audience where they are not interrupted with any effects or jump and I strongly believe in the principle of seamless tailoring of the footage. I basically wanted to get into filmmaking and accidentally got into editing. I interned under Gautham Menon sir during my college days and I used to edit my friend’s short films, music videos and documentaries. When Gautham sir noticed this, he suggested me to join editor Antony and learn more of editing. After I got into this field, my interest sustained and rest is what you see now.

  What was your involvement in the scripting process of Theri?

My editing work started in the pre-production stage itself

  Atlee, as a friend, is very comfortable with all his technicians in the crew and he involved us in the initial stages of scripting itself. We spoke and discussed a lot. Post his rough narration, I told him things that will and will not work. Later on, he came up with the final draft. In that final draft, we edited/chopped off few portions while we included few for the good of the script. This helped us save quite a lot of money and time. My editing work started in the pre-production stage itself. We held previse sessions for few episodes like the bus accident scene you spotted in the trailer. The cinematographer, director, the stunt choreographer and I arrived at clear cut shot division on paper and later, this was communicated to the VFX engineer. This helped the crew to shoot the sequence with ease. Even during the post edit, it was not strainful as I knew what shots are part of the rushes.

  Do you see any difference between the debutant Atlee and the present Atlee?

  Not at all. Atlee is one person who is very clear about what he wants and what will work. If he has any doubt regarding his content, he will right away discuss with us and get it cleared. He goes with the technician's choice. On the edit table, if I declared that a particular element/scene is not working, he will right away chop it off. This is how he has been since Raja Rani. He takes opinions from his technicians and his direction department team. Around 100 people viewed Raja Rani as a preview show while Theri was screened for 25 people. Their views were considered and helped us judge our content. And post the preview show we implemented few minor changes.

  Is there anything unique that you have tried in Theri with respect to the edit?

During the film’s edit I didn’t have to do anything as the film is highly pacy.

  I tried something new in the trailer. I am usually known for my trailer cuts in the industry. This particular trailer for Theri, I kept all the elements of the film like action, romance, fatherhood, villainism and everything but if you noticed there wouldn't be any mass dialogue/punch line that Vijay sir would mouth. Yet, people found the trailer a massy one!  Like in case of Vedalam, I used the dialogue, “Therika Vidalama” and in case of Veeram, “Eana thandi thodra paapom” was used. So when compared to my previous work, I have awakened the mass feel with just sound and cuts. As the film is very engaging, I don't like to deliberate any experiment in my work. So during the film’s edit I didn’t have to do anything as the film is highly pacy.

  Your teaser cuts are raved about in both Vedalam and Theri which hit few milestones with respect to the viewership in YouTube. Is it the screen presence of the stars or any other strategy that you worked out that stands as a reason for this reception?

  The first thing is obviously the screen presence because if not for their massive stardom nobody will view the trailer. Secondly, it is the process of analysing the audience’s requirements in a trailer. In case of big stars, the range of audience is vast. One should satisfy all the sector of the audience and simultaneously tease them in all aspects. I watch a lot of trailers in many languages for my reference and also read the comments posted below. This helps me understand the audience better.

  Does the star of the film have any impact on your work?

  Certainly. Because, when you work with a personality with stardom, more than the script the scope for heroism is important. The same thing implies in case of superhero films. In a good background score, if the hero walks in high speed, that itself will entertain the fans. Giving some sustains at massy action/ dialogue or a hand gesture will give fans the time to celebrate it.

  You are one common factor between Vedalam and Theri. Now please reveal about the connect in the titles.

I know both Siva sir and Atlee well enough, and they are not people who would encash such elements for the sake of their films.

    It is a mere coincidence. Vedalam was the initial title for the script as the character’s name was Vedalam Ganesh. The producer liked this title better than the alternatives that the director suggested. While deciding the title, we have to be very conscious about the hero’s stardom and Vedalam matched all these criteria. And the Puli relevance was a coincidence. In case of Theri, we had plenty of other options but each of it was owned by someone else. As the lookout for a catchy title continued, ‘Theri’ was decided upon in the last moment. It was definitely not an intentional move and the connect between Vedalam’s ‘Therika vidalama’ and ‘Theri’ has no backstory or deliberation behind. I know both Siva sir and Atlee well enough, and they are not people who would encash such elements for the sake of their films. In fact, I met Vijay sir for a dinner recently. He appreciated my work in Vedalam as he had watched the film and also said, “the film was very pacy and all the best for you future”.

  Have you got stuck between fan wars anytime?

A true fan will never degrade or insult the rival

  Yes I have been through that. Vedalam was released on November 10th and 15th was my birthday. Many called and wished me. Some fans posted things like, “Thanks for making Vedalam a flop”. If I had reacted to them, they will come up with something else. Even the other side, fans do the same thing. There is a Tamil saying which states, “Thoongaravangala ezhupalam, thoongra maadhri nadikaravangala ezhupa mudiyadu”. I feel that is the case with these fan wars. A true fan will never degrade or insult the rival. First of all, India-Pakistan can be rivals, Vijay and Ajith are not rivals! They are a combination like MGR - Sivaji, Rajini - Kamal. People who indulge in wars are not true fans according to me.

  Keeping aside the star power involved in Theri, market the film to our audience with respect to its technical aspect.

  Technically, Theri has come out extremely well. You would have noticed in the trailer itself, the locations, visuals, everything is grand. The stunt sequence will be a major look out for Vijay sir’s fans. The colour variations between the father Vijay, romantic Vijay and the cop Vijay can be spotted; the overall look and edit pattern are also treated differently. Art director Muthuraj creates looks. He has put in some extra effort for few portions and he is brilliant. The BGM is excellent! I have worked with GV Prakash for about 7-8 films, but this, easily is his best.  Even after he ventured out as an actor, his interest and involvement in music have not reduced a bit.

  It is pleasing to watch George's work in the final output. How much of his work did you enjoy in your edit table?

George’s work is very special and it creates a magic onscreen

  George is a very good friend of mine. Despite that, if something is wrong, I tend to tell it on his face. I am very honest with my opinions. I am excited while watching George’s rushes. The basic driving force for an editor is the footage. Even if the content is great, the visual appeal is crucial. I have worked with a lot of cinematographers, but George’s work is very special and it creates a magic onscreen.

  Next line of projects.

  Sivakarthikeyan’s Remo, Vikram Prabhus Veera Sivaji, GV Prakash’s Enakku Innoru Peru Irukku, Jiiva and Bobby Simha’s Kavalai Vendam.



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