One of the many adages that circulate in the Malayalam movie industry is that every film is made three times: once when it is written, once when it is shot and once, finally, when it is edited. It can only really be recognized by people who have been physically involved in the making of a film.
First, the noise, after years of self-possessed, subtle excellence, Shameer Muhammed is suddenly everywhere, thanks to his work in films such as Charlie, Idi, Angamaly Diaries and the upcoming Mohanlal starrer Villain, Shameer has become a prominent name in recent times and has made people sit up and take notice of his work.
What motivated you to become a Film Editor?
It wasn’t a planned decision. I always wanted to be in the film industry. It took me sometime to figure out that editing is a possibility and in a way, brings together my love for films and story-telling.
Could you take us through your editing process? Does it vary from director to director? How has it been working with different directors like Martin Prakat, Lijo Jose Pellissery, B Unnikrishnan?
Technically, the process is the same but practically, it varies from director to director and even film to film. The three directors you have mentioned above have different world views, which is reflected in their films and therefore even in the edits. The way they approach acting, writing and editing are unique and very diverse. For me therefore, it’s very enjoyable as I get to shift to a new world every time the director changes.
Charlie is your first independent work as a film editor. How was the experience?
Charlie will always remain close to my heart. It was my first time and of course I was anxious but I had the full support of the team. Martin Prakat knew what he wanted and he gave me the freedom to work.
Your CV, as spot editor, is impressive – Grandmaster, Kalimannu, Salaam Kashmir, Memories, Jawan of Vellimala, Baalyakalasakhi, Ennu Ninte Moideen How was the experience working as a spot-editor?
A spot editor’s job doesn’t have the comforts of editing in a studio. I had to be part of the rough and tumble of filming. My job, as spot editor, was to trim the day’s shoot. It makes the director’s job easy; he can choose from those sequences. But being a spot editor has immensely helped me as a film editor.
The media has opened-up and now all of us are getting the deserved exposure.
Both Angamaly Diaries and Oru Mexican Aparatha was released on the same day. How do you differentiate both these works and what was the challenges you faced?
Angamaly Diaries has a realistic tone while Oru Mexican Aparatha is given a cinematic treatment. Editing them simultaneously was the biggest challenge I had faced while working in the films. Both movies had a different mood. So, I used to work for Angamaly Diaries for some days and then move to the other.
How is editing a song different from editing a fight sequence?
It may sound the same, but it is very different. A song is edited to a rhythm, to the music while a fight is all about impact which comes from repetitive scenes.
Mohanlal starrer Villain’s teaser has already become viral on social media. How was the experience working with the legend?
It’s an honour to work in a film with Mohanlal sir. At the same time, it’s a privilege to also work with B. Unnikrishnan sir who has been my pillar of support. I am happy that people have accepted the teaser of Villain.
Do you think film editing is a profession that is least recognised in India?
I totally agree with you on this. Getting credit for your film is very subjective. In certain kinds of films, the editor gets all the importance, but many films are completely star/director driven. But I feel it’s balanced these days. The media has opened-up and now all of us are getting the deserved exposure. People started recognizing me more after Angamaly Diaries.
What is most challenging for an editor?
The challenging part is to keep my audience engaged. These days even scripts are being edited a lot before going on the floors. The most difficult part is to hold the audiences and not let them get bored.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring young editors & film makers?
The skills required are infinite patience, persistence and passionate detachment. One needs to keep at it, till one arrives at what seems okay but at the same time, have no attachment to the ‘hard work’ either. If something needs to go, it should go out quickly, even if you have spent months getting it right.