He has a record number of eight national awards for best editing in his kitty, including a special jury award. In a career spanning nearly three decades, ace editor Akkineni Sreekar Prasad had edited over 200 films in various languages mostly in Telugu and Malayalam, besides Hindi, Tamil, Assamese, Oriya, Nepali, Sinhalese, English, etc. Perhaps he is the only editor to bag a double at the national awards in one year for both feature film ( Rag Birag – Assamese) and non-feature film ( Nauka Charitramu ).

It is an undeniable fact that an editor’s role is vital in shaping up a movie and he says that – if the editing is slick and fast paced, even a mediocre film looks interesting and its faults are over looked. But even if a film has a fantastic script, a terrific cast and superb acting but slips on its editing, it can turn out to be quite a disappointment. He believes that the director and editor should work in tandem. One of the films that bagged him a national award, Santhosh Sivan’s The Terrorist (Tamil) dealt with the story of a 19 year old girl, a suicide bomber. “Shot on a shoe string budget in natural locations within 15 days, the film was mostly created on the editing table. This was possible because of the close rapport I have with Santhosh Sivan. He has a thorough knowledge of the medium. So there was enough material shot by him, which enabled us to play around with the shots.” The savvy editor selects five of his challenging assignments from among many of his best editing jobs.

VANAPRASTHAM (Malayalam)

Cast: Mohan Lal, Suhasini

Director: Shaji Karun

It was a very difficult but enriching experience to edit this film as it had a lot of layers and philosophy in the film. It also had a lot of Kathakali performances which had to be edited in such a way that they does not hamper the story, Kathakali performances are usually long so it was a challenge to keep them short, yet fulfilling, and to form part of the narrative.

OKKADU (Telugu)

Cast: Mahesh Babu, Bhumika

Director: Gunasekhar

Another milestone film in my career, it was a difficult film as it went through many forms of narration. Initially it was non-linear in structure but later we realised a linear structure would help. Also it was a challenge to keep the pace very fast to make it slick and engaging.

YUVA (Hindi)

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Vivek Oberoi, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Esha Deol

Director: Maniratnam

This film was unique for me as for the first time we were trying to tell a story from three different viewpoints and we were coming back to the same incident every time but from a different viewpoint I also had to make sure the edit patterns were very different for each story to create a contrast in their characterisations.

ANNAMAYYA (Telugu)

Cast: Nagarjuna, Ramyakrishna, Maheswari

Director: K. Raghavendra Rao

The difficulty in this film was editing its songs and to keep it engaging enough to match the great music (by M.M. Keeravani) it had. We also had to maintain the pace but stay enough on shots to realise the power of divinity. As it was a mainstream presentation, the balance between drama and devotionhad to be maintained.

DIL CHAHTHA HAI (Hindi)

Cast: Amir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Priety Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni, Dimple Kapadia

Director: Farhan Akhtar

This was a trendsetter and as it was a young director with full of energy I had to match him with dramatic smoothness. It also had new patterns of editing which have created a trend later. Since it was a youthful entertainer, it was cut energetically so that it turned out very smooth but innovative.

(as told to m.l. narasimham)

( This fortnightly column will feature five best works as shared by the maestros from the industry .)

Shot on a shoe string budget, in natural locations within 15 days, the film ( The Terrorist )was mostly created on the editing table