Film editor Praveen KL talked about his experience working with filmmaker Thiagarajan Kumararaja on his breakout debut feature, ‘Aaranya Kaandam’

Film editor Praveen KL talked about his experience working with filmmaker Thiagarajan Kumararaja on his breakout debut feature, ‘Aaranya Kaandam’

It has been 10 years since Aaranya Kaandam, a rare noir film in Tamil that launched the arrival of filmmaker Thiagarajan Kumararaja, had its world première at the South Asian International Film Festival. In a recent Instagram live with Metroplus, film editor Praveen KL, who the National Award for Best Film Editing for Aaranya Kaandam along with his co-editor NB Srikanth, shared nuggets of his memories.

Original cut

The final cut of Aaranya Kaandam was somewhere close to 123 minutes, before it rubbed the Censor Board the wrong side. We were suggested 56 cuts! The one that is currently available on the digital platform is a bad version and I suggest you not see it at all. A satellite television, to which the rights were sold, has the official censored version of the film. But we have been trying to bring out the original, uncut version of Aaranya Kaandam. In fact, we have pitched to a couple of OTT players and have also been planning to bring out a Telugu version.

A still from ‘Aaranya Kaandam’

The long short

A film usually takes about two months of my time, but this one took about nine months due to its complexity and the involvement that Kumar [Thiagarajan Kumararaja] had. I still remember there was this particular sequence [the rooster fight] that was challenging for us to cut. There were 21 different versions of the scene and we had to take the call.

An unused romantic number

The scene where Sappai [Ravi Krishna] takes Subbu [Yasmin Ponnappa] out for a date had a song initially. In the film, you see an animated Mario-styled sequence featuring the duo. We were all fans of Mario [laughs]. But that was supposed to have a romantic song and Yuvan, in fact, had composed one. The song, however, was not used in the film and was later used in Thirudan Police.

Film editor Praveen KL

Old school approach

The climax fight featuring Pasupathy [Sampath Raj] and Gajapathy [Sai Dheena] was intended to give you the feel of watching a Spaghetti Western. There was one particular track from a Mexican Spaghetti Western, which acted as a base for this scene. I think it was an Antonio Banderas’ film. If you look at the rhythm of the scene, the number of shots, or the way it is edited, it is similar to the Mexican film.

Kumar had two endings for the climax on paper. We even thought of an alternate ending with Subbu being hit by the lorry. Thankfully, Kumar stuck to the original ending. It was an-anti climax and it would have spoiled the euphoria that you got out of the film. The film’s basic concept was: underdog has to triumph. That is why I told Kumar: ‘Let’s have a shot of her walking into the sunset.’ The sunset, in fact, was created during post production.

As told to Srivatsan S