Editor Anthony
Interviewer : Inian & Daya Kingston | Coordination : Venkatesh | Camera : Balaji | Text : Daya Kingston
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Hotshot editor Anthony Gonsalves has created an identity for film editors in Kollywood with his racy style. He recently edited India’s costliest film Endhiran and we catch up with him to check on his style, directors and more.

You have created an identity for film editors. Comment.

Nothing was planned. I was doing a lot of ads and while working with Gautham, I got the opportunity to work on Khaaka Khaakha. Every scene was like an ad for me. I did not want to think I had two and a half hours; I treated it like an ad. I wanted to do something whacky and the script also was like that.

What was the kind of editing experience you had?

In 1994, I worked at Edit Point and then from 1996 to 99, I was in AVM Studios doing the same thing. From 1997, I was with Rajiv Menon Productions and worked on ads with Rajiv, Latha, AC Films and many others. I worked for a few ads with Gautham and a music video. I worked as an assistant on two telefilms Annai and Siragugal where Jaishankar was the editor. That time, director Manobala would literally hit me saying, ‘Let the shot go on. Why are you cutting it so short?’ He’s also responsible for a part of the film editing knowledge I acquired.

How did you get your first break in films?

Gautham approached me to do the jeep song and he wanted it for the audio release and I did it overnight. Whatever I felt like doing, I did it. It turned out nice and he and Dhanu asked me to do the whole film.

How did you get interested in editing?

I was pursuing animation in Vector Institute; it had just started at Prasad Studios. One of my close friend’s sister introduced me to editing and audio engineering. She used to work for National Geographic channel. She came to know that I was interested in animation, I liked drawing and I liked computers. She said, ‘why don’t you try editing. I will put you onto a person and you will see that editing is also cool.’ She also asked me to try for 2 days and then decide whether I wanted to continue with animation or editing. Then she took me to a place called Teletape and that’s where it all started. I started working with editor Mathangi. My interest grew.

How important is editing?

It plays a very big role because 2 frames can change the course of a film. Those 2 frames matter. For example, if a heroine is walking past the hero, and if the hero gives her a look or is checking out her or something, it has to be at the correct level, if you get the eye expression and it goes a little more, it becomes lust. It should not become that, because he is in love with her beauty. Editing does matter and sets the pace of the film, what kind of speed the film and script requires.

What are your favorite films?

I don’t have any as such. Each film is like a best film. When I work on it, I feel I should give my best to it.

What was it like before Khaakha Khaakha and after?

Before Khaakha Khaakaha I used to work on ads where the first rough cut of the ad would come to 2 minutes and they would need just 30 seconds. What I learnt there more, is to remove the unnecessary stuff and give importance to each shot and what it conveyed - whether the camera was good, was it helping the shot and in conveying what they want to do. I decide say put 60% of that and then the rest is a close up, a reaction shot, so let me use 80% of it. We used to throw out stuff and still convey what we wanted in 30 secs. That helped a lot in my film work.

Is there any new trend?

Nothing different about it. I see a lot of new films. When you see a film, unless you are there in the background, you will not know what has been removed. You will have no clue as to what happened on the editing table and how it has been shaped. It depends on each editor on how differently he works on it but as far as the film comes out, it’s the director and that’s his product.

Your long association with Gautham Menon.

I know him since the time we worked with Rajiv. We know each other for long and are pretty cool with each other. I call him machaan. He, Rajiv and I are good pals. He has confidence in me that I will do something good for him. For every project, I first sit alone and then call him after I finish the first half. Then both of us discuss and he’s pretty cool with whatever I say. Sometimes, he will agree, sometimes he will explain why he wants the scene that way and we have a good rapport.

What is your approach to work like?

Some new directors approach me and then there are some who are constant who always work with me and share a comfort level. For example Gautham and Simbhu; they don’t ask me, they just give me the work. The best part of it is that I will never listen to any story before the edit. I just go ahead and finalize and when I sit on the edit table, every scene is something new to me, something really fresh. Even if something is bad, I will check why they have this scene, what’s going to come next?

If an audience is going to watch a film in the theatre, it will take 2 hours to watch but for me it’s those two months of editing. And that gives me the interest level in working and into the script instead of listening to the script first. Suppose the story is bad, it’s something more challenging in editing on how best you can save the film. You can’t say the story is bad, I can’t edit it!

They say films are made on the editing table. Comment.

Yes, films can be made in the editing table. The script can be really bad but still on the edit table it can be saved.

Does your approach change while editing different genres?

No, for all genres it’s the same kind of mindset, the same kind of person sits there - that’s me. That’s the same way with my editing style, I sit there and work. If I feel like getting up and going and playing the carom board I do so, no matter who is there or what work is on. If I feel bored I go for a walk, play carom or get a coffee.

Is there a difference in editing different languages?

There’s nothing like that. You don’t need to know Chinese to edit a Chinese film because most of it is Visual Communication. You see it, you know it. A little bit of help is needed from a director or from an assistant director in terms of dialogue and what exactly it conveys. Other than that, you don’t need to know a language to edit a film in that language.

You don’t need to know

Chinese to edit a Chinese film

How was your experience with Director Lingusamy?

Lingu is a very good friend. We pull each other’s legs and tell each other personal stuff and it’s a good rapport. It’s a brotherly affair; I get lunch from his house, lovely food. Gautham is more of a friend. With my set of close directors it’s more fun editing.

Shankar Sir may be a big

director but in the edit room by

my side, he is like a king and a

friend also

How was it working with Director Shankar?

I have done a few trailers for Director Shankar’s previous films and while working on the trailer of Boys, I told him you are a big director and my small aim is to do a song in your film. Later, he asked me to do Sivaji. For the first two weeks, it was a little difficult to do because I was scared of him and wondered whether what I was doing was right. However, after that we gelled so much. Shankar Sir may be a big director but in the edit room by my side, he is like a king and a friend also.

How was it working on Endhiran?

Endhiran was fun because it was like a game. You have an empty shot and you have to imagine that the character is going to walk from here to there three steps and then walk towards the camera three steps. So the action and all imaginary characters are based on the empty block and then we decide on the length of the scene. We would be waiting like an exam result for the animation. When the animation actually came, we would check if our assumption of each cut was right or not. It was fun.

How long did you take to edit Endhiran?

Over a period of 3 years, we would have worked for 5 months continuously.

What was the most challenging scene in Endhiran?

Every scene was challenging because of the graphics and the empty blocks. They shoot the empty blocks and you don’t know what’s happening and we just imagine. We do a pre-visualization and then according to that we keep these characters in the head, for instance Rajini Sir is here and Aishwarya is here and this robot character will come running. The whole film was challenging and not one particular scene.

How do you choose films?

Nothing like that. I never look into the budget of the film, release nor the director. They call me and ask if I will do it, I say fine.

On working with Pushkar and Gayathri in Oram Po.

Gayathri and Pushkar are fun-loving people and you can just tell them anything. They are very open and we go out partying too. It’s good working with them and they show a lot of confidence in you.

On working on a period film Madharasapattinam.

Madharasapattinam is one of my favorites. The rough edit was done by the director. I loved that story so much. After the rough edit I had to watch it like an audience and it was lovely and Vijay was at his best. He’s my partner also in the studio. I just loved the way Arya was in it and the new face heroine. Everything worked well in the film. The challenging thing was that there would be a tilt up shot and just a blue screen behind the artistes. I had to imagine the vastness of old Chennai behind them and keep the shot that long and then cut. After that, graphics would be combined and then we would decide.

What was it like working with Murugadoss?

Murugadoss is a very talented, a cute person and lots of fun to work with. Again like all my directors, they don’t tell me how exactly they want a scene edited but wait to see what I do. I do all my buildup. Finally, they give their opinions.

Murugadoss is a very talented, a

cute person and lots of fun to

work with

Were both Endhiran and Robot edited the same way?

It was not like I kept the films side by side and edited. Each was like a fresh film. I had the story in mind and what I need to do.

What’s the kind of relationship exists between the cinematographer and editor?

What we need is understanding, something you will find in my editing too. For example, I should see and know that from the long shot and then moving to close-up, the lighting on the face should match. If it’s not matching, they would have 100% taken a shot with lighting on the face. I have to keep in mind the story is good and if the cameraman has taken a crane shot, let’s sell that too, that movement. All these things should be taken care of.

The cameraman also should have editing sense. For instance if we take this trolley from here to there, the next shot should again be a movement shot from the opposite side and that it has to be done in such a way that the editing pattern should come correct. If a guy is walking towards the house, whatever height and if they are cutting to the point of view, the camera should be at the eye level of the person, it can’t suddenly go down like a trolley.

Who are the other editors you like?

Sreekanth, he’s my senior and very mature in editing. He gives importance to the script and how the story should be told.

What are your favorite songs amongst those you have edited?

I like all my songs and my friend’s song New York Nagaram. I like my first song, the jeep song in Khaakha Khaakha and another favorite is Suttum Vizhi Chudare.

Is there any new trend in editing?

Nothing like that, the machine changes and the software changes, it gets upgraded and extra effects get added on. Editing is different from stylizing. Editing is conveying something to the audience by holding the audience by the hand till the end of the film and leaving them back in the car park. There will be no change; there will be changes in the gimmicks and highlight part alone. The Camera is getting improved because of quality; you can do so much because of technology development.

What about old editing techniques like fade in and out?

If a scene needs a fade in fade out it still needs it and not a wipe.

Are we on par with Hollywood?

Technically we are on par. But in storytelling we need to reach our kind of audience. I am not saying they are lower than Hollywood but Indian films are made for our people. If our directors went to Hollywood of course the films made would be on par with them.

What are your current projects?

I am working on Ko, Nadunisi Naigal, Veppam, 7am Arivu, Vaanam, Poda Podi, some Kannada films, Karthi’s film and Lingu’s film which has just started.

Rajini said super, super, superaa


What did Rajini say about your work?

Rajini said super, super, superaa irukku. Very nice. He said it in Sivaji and Endhiran also.

What is your equation with stars like Simbu, Vikram and Suriya?

They are cool. They don’t look at me like an editor, I don’t see them as an actor, and we talk normally.

So they are cool with you?

Most of the times, I take the liberty of saying what I want.

When are you starting direction?

Direction is still not happening; I have a large number of films to complete but am working on a script too. Only then I will announce.

You were said to have given 25K to Simbhu for editing.

Simbhu is a very close friend of mine. We talk about anything, sometimes I shout at him and he shouts at me, we have fun. He’s like Kamal sir, he’s got it everywhere, he knows sound mixing, and he knows how to help out in composing sound. He knows editing, acting, directing almost like Kamal sir. He likes editing too and sometimes he says, you say it’s so difficult, and then I say ok you do it. Then he will say I will edit this scene and work as my assistant. It was a fun thing he said I worked a lot and you did not pay me, and then I gave him Rs. 25000.

Tags : Editor Anthony, Gautham Menon, Lingusamy, Shankar, Murugadoss, Endhiran, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, Sivaji
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