Suresh Urs
Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar & Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Video Editor : Xavier
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Editor Suresh Urs needs no introduction. Having edited around 500 films in many languages Suresh Urs has worked with almost all the ace directors of our times like Mani Ratnam, Bala, Ameer, Rajeev Menon, Gautham Menon and Charan. His seamless editing won him the National Award for Best Editing for Mani Ratnam’s Bombay. Currently busy with Ajith’s Billa 2, this practitioner of the ‘invisible art’ tracks his editing journey with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar and Inian.

How did you develop an interest in editing?

I was working as an assistant director to start with and I saw my seniors and felt that editing was good and changed my department.

How important is editing to a film?

Not only editing but every department like camera, music script writing, story writing are all like pillars for any cinema. When all these people work in unison, cinema is born.

Can you share your editing experience with us?

I have worked in around 500 films across many languages. In Tamil I have worked in successful films like Roja, Bombay, Dhalapathi, Ramana, Amarkalam, Chandramukhi. I have got good appreciation from the industry side. Audience has also enjoyed these films. In Kannada I have worked with off-beat directors like Girish Karnad, Kasaravalli, Burgur Ramachandrappa, Nagabharanam. I have got good name and fame there also.

I have worked in around 500

films across many languages

How do you bring in variation in editing for different genres?

It is important for me what the director wants to convey. All films will not be the same and it should not be the same. I will start my work based on the director’s requirements. It will be a good experience for me especially when I work on different scripts and with different directors.

You have worked with Mani Ratnam in many of his films. Can you share your working experience with him?

I consider myself to be fortunate to have worked with legendary directors. Mani sir is such a soft natured person and gives freedom to his technicians. Even if we give wrong suggestions, he would not dismiss the idea outright. Instead he would ask us to try it on and find it for ourselves and then we would realize. So the next time around, when we want to give suggestions, we would think many times before we say something. This is the big advantage when you work with experienced directors.

On the other hand, when you work with newcomers and young directors, the entire responsibility rests with us. We need to advise them.

Bala has a very sharp memory


Working with Bala

Bala sir shoots and sends and he will not be there for the 1st cut. His memory power is very sharp and he generally goes for many takes until he is satisfied. When I happen to choose, for instance, 14th take, he would ask me why I have not chosen 32nd take. If my justification satisfies him, he would let me use that particular take. When you work with Bala sir, your memory power will sharpen.

Styles used in editing

I don’t keep any specific style. Story is vital. I maintain styles as per the story. If I adhere to just one style, it would be monotonous for the audience.

National Award for Bombay

I expected National Award for Roja but I never received any recognition for that film. In fact I worked harder in Roja. On that day of announcement of awards, I was at my friend’s place and a celebration was arranged expecting the award for me. There were announcements about all the awards except for editing. I felt very disappointed and went over to another friend’s place. The next morning, when I went home, my brother told that somebody had called to congratulate me for the award. And later when I opened the newspaper, my name was there for Best Editing. It was a thrilling moment for me.

I expected National Award for


How does a relationship between an editor and cinematographer help a film?

Generally we don’t much interact except in the final stages of a film. If there is a good relationship, it is good for the film.

Your favorite cameraman who gives you useful tips

It’s not like that. For a film, whoever contributes, it is only going to help the film. Film is only a director’s media. In my opinion, all the credit should go to the director.

I am always ready for Bala

What is the secret behind Bala opting you for editing for his films?

You should ask him that. May be he likes my work! I always allot all my time for Bala sir. I am always ready for him. I have never said no to him. Perhaps this is being liked by him.

Challenging project till date

I don’t consider anything tough or challenging. They are all the same for me. I don’t differentiate between big budget and small budget films. I am passionate about my work. I am ready to work even 24 hours. I can even forego food and water. As I love my work, I have never felt anything very tough.

It has been said that films are born at the editors’ table. Your take

It is true but it can happen only with the support from the director. We should not forget that fact. Some people claim it is their handiwork but I don’t accept that. Without director’s support, you cannot do anything. Even if you give right suggestion, if the director does not take it, you can’t do anything. If we do something nice, the first credit should go to the director. That’s how I feel.

What are the latest trends in editing?

There is nothing like that. Director is the trendsetter. Whoever narrates the story becomes the trendsetter. An editor can never become a trend setter. Perhaps, he can try a few tricks in one film but if it continues, it becomes monotonous and it would not be liked. Bharthi Raja sir, Bhagyaraj sir, Mani sir, Bala sir are all trendsetters. I would not like to talk about technicians in that vein.

Director is the trendsetter

Your current projects

Billa 2 is going on. Talks are on for a Hindi project. I am doing P Vasu sir’s Kannada film.

Chakri Toleti and Billa 2 experience

He is a nice person. Work is going on.

What would be the style in Billa 2?

It is secret. I would not like to discuss. In cinema the more there is secrecy, the better for the film. We should not discuss everything. I would like to maintain secrecy.

Ajith is a perfect gentleman

Interactions with Ajith in Billa 2

I know Ajith from Amarkalam days. He is a good actor and a perfect gentleman. Whatever he is committed to doing, he would do it perfectly. There would be no issues from his side.

Your assistants who have gone independent

There are many. There is Saravanan, Ganesh and Harsha in Tamil and there are many in Kannada film industry. I am proud to say that my assistants have got state awards ten times.

Kannada film Savi savi nenapu

Yes, the film was directed by Santosh Rai Pathaje, a cameraman turned director. He was very keen that I work in his film which had superb visuals. It is nice to work with such directors. All the units in the film like director, music director, editor sat together, discussed and worked. The film was like an epic. The film won SPB sir the Best Singer award.

You worked in Dil Se and also Uyire. Were there any differences in editing?

There is no separate style for Hindi or for Tamil but there is a style for the story which Mani sir maintains. Mani sir changes his style as per the story. No two films of his will have the same style.

Mani Ratnam changes his style

as per the story

What is your advice to aspiring editors?

Hard work, sincerity, timing sense and understanding the director are very important. Money making should not be the objective. When one respects his work, he would definitely progress.

Is fast cutting good or bad?

I cannot say whether it is good or bad. If I had made that mistake, you can ask me. It is not needed and I don’t know why it is being done. As regards the audience, if there is something new despite it being technically wrong, they would accept it for the first time. This is being misconstrued as success. As it continues, it becomes monotonous. In Hindi films they don’t try anything like that. There would be neat cuts and enough time for expressions. There are no mistakes there but the errors are done here. But times are changing and people who had committed mistakes are also correcting their errors which is a healthy trend.

What about the cuts in songs?

Sometimes we cut for the rhythms which is fine. But when your objective is for the audience to see the emotions, there should not be any cuts. We need to use our discretion.

Rajeev Menon’s finishing

touches are superb

Rajeev Menon’s style

He is a good cameraman and a director. You should see the songs in his films to understand the cuts. That’s what I call the creative genius of a director. He knows very well what to get from a music director or an editor. His finishing touches are superb as he is well experienced in making ad films.

Vennilave song in Minsara Kanavu

Vennilave song is an amazing number. Prabhu Deva had choreographed the song. The song involved only simple cuts but had an inebriating and mesmerizing effect.

Gautham Menon

Gautham Menon and Rajeev Menon’s style will almost be similar. Cuts are very much alike.


Charan’s style is a bit different and he wants things to be fast paced. He is a commercial director. But even there, we would not have too much speed. We would discuss at length and then proceed. I have done around 8-9 films with Charan. Our combination was a successful one.

You acted in Mahan Kanakku. Would you continue acting?

The director felt that it would be nice if I would do the role. Acting is not my choice. If somebody calls me, I don’t want to disappoint them and I would act.
Tags : Suresh Urs, Bala, Mani Ratnam, Ajith, Roja, Rajeev Menon
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