Saturday, May 10, 2008

Interview with Editor and Co-Producer A. Sreekar Prasad

By Vishvamithran and Mamallan

He is one among the very few of what we call ‘creative’ and ‘sensible’ editors in India, who at one hand could edit a slick film and on the other could edit an artistic film, without losing the standard and the precision that he maintains.

On a hot summer afternoon when the mercury level was rising to heights in Chennai we met Mr. Sreekar Prasad at his home. He cooled us down by his warm and receptive composure.. Though he was in a busy schedule he never showed hastiness, his down to earth attitude and a friendly approach towards our questions was heartening to be with. Like in his own editing table, He cut clear and sharp with his answers. The interview felt lighter and fulfilling as we came out of the home and the sun was moving down.

Excerpts from the interview.

Tell us about your creative collaboration with Prasanna Vithanage?

I first met Prasanna eight years ago. I had seen his film ‘Death on a full moon day’. I was amazed by how he could covey a story that happens in a short time span, very effectively within 75 minutes. Then we collaborated in ‘Ira Madiyama’, it was a much more challenging work for me because it was multistoried, were the stories run in parallels. Though it was scripted, it was interesting because we changed a lot during the edit, mainly the positioning of the scenes. In a multistoried narrative when you switch on from one story to another running parallel, the emotion has to have a completion, if it doesn’t happen then it keeps bothering you each time you watch it... So we had to change the positions accordingly and it worked well for us.

Working with Prasanna, I think our wavelength matches well. We are able to communicate well with each other and we believe in similar things. What attracts me towards his way of filmmaking is the simplicity he could achieve. He doesn’t over dramatize anything but still it is clearly told. The emotions that are conveyed in his films are minimalist. I also like his sense of dialogue, they are very little but effective. This simplicity is what that appeals to me working with Prasanna.

Generally mainstream films have a different sensibility comparing with what we call ‘good cinema’. In a good cinema we often find a fresh approach or pattern of expression that gives a new experience to the viewer. In the process of collaborating as an editor in ‘Flowers in the sky’ what kind of pattern did you handle?

We blend with the scene, we can create pattern only with what we have shot. There is no predetermined pattern as such. In this film what we tried to do was to take out the clich├ęs that are regularly associated with Art movies. For example to show loneliness of a character normally they don’t jump from the events, they show a person sitting for sometime in a place and after awhile walking slowly to some other, they show them in linear way. But we find that over the years cinema has grown, the perception of filmmaking has changed and also the speed of the mankind. Now I feel that the challenge is to show the emotion in a very economical way without dragging a moment just because we want to underline the emotion. So in this film, without being placid we tried to create certain unpredictability from sequence to sequence. We have tried to move from emotion to another. Whether it’s an Artistic movie or a Mainstream movie, we need a sense of movement in the script. In this film we have not made any conscious effort to establish the passage of time through a shot or through any usual device, like season changes etc., instead it’s inherently conveyed in the narrative itself.

Malani Fonseka has come back to act after a long time, what did you feel about her performance in the film?

I know that she is hugely popular in Sri lanka, though I haven’t seen much of her work, I have seen a few films... I couldn’t remember the names now...

In this film we needed an actress, who over the years starts behaving like an actress but still has the vulnerability of a human being who is caring for attention. So, when I saw the rushes of the first schedule of the film, I didn’t see the full potential of her performance, I thought she has to be little more vulnerable, but after the whole completion of the shoot, now I feel she has done a fantastic job! The audience can so easily associate with her behavior, insecurity, little excitements. She has done a great job being the main protagonist of the film.

Overall Prasanna has got some good performances from all the main actors, they look very real, and I think he has done a very good casting.

What you think is the uniqueness or difference between Prasanna Vithanage’s earlier films and ‘Flowers in the sky’?

I think his previous two films that I was associated with were topical. Though they had emotion that was universal, one needed to know the political background of Sri lanka to come to a holistic understanding of the film. But in ‘Flowers in the sky’ the emotion he as taken is more universal and broader, it could reach more number of people. Wherever there is film industry, people could relate with the film much more easily and clearly. I think this will be a difference from his previous films.

You are also the Co-producer of the film?

Yes. I have made a film previously with my friend Biju Viswanath. This is my second film. I wanted to be associated with Prasanna as he is also producing it. Already Prasanna’s films have reached many places, through this film we are trying to reach more, for example to make a subtitle print and release it in Sathyam cinemas, Chennai which hasn’t happened before with his films. I consider this as passion than a business venture.At the end of the day you do something that you believe in.