Editors of Aarya, Abhimanyu Chaudhary and Khushboo Agarwal share interesting insights about editing the powerful show based on crime, family and survival.
Aarya is a story where organised crime is the daily family business and betrayal runs deep. Aarya starts with a loving wife & doting mother (Aarya), her reluctance to be involved in the illegal narcotics family business; whose life is suddenly turned upside down, her family is threatened and, in the quest to protect them she is forced to become the very person she always avoided. She realizes that to protect her family from criminals, she herself needs to become one!
Besides the interesting content of the show, what also intrigued us was the way it was shot and pieced together by a team of extremely talented technicians. To delve further into understanding the process and hard work that goes into pulling something like that off, we spoke to the Editors of the show Khushboo Agarwal and Abhimanyu Chaudhary. Their impressive skills have certainly caught our attention and the audience's as well.
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Take a look at our conversation with Abhimanyu and Khushboo on the process of post-production, the importance of sound and their technical insights on Aarya:
Since the show is an adaptation of a Dutch show, what kind of details do you have to keep in mind while editing it for the Indian audience?
Khushboo: "In terms of the basic story structure, the show as it stands is quite faithful to the original show. We have added a few subplots and I did layers of relationships which are not clearly defined not specifically for the Indian context, so I think in terms of how much we were following the adaptation, it was like a series of a milestone for us because we knew eventually where the story needs to go and how one needs to feel at the end of it but the way Ram, Sandipan and Vinod chose to shoot it went additional layers to meaning to what was interesting. Therefore our job became how to integrate both the plot and the feeling of India together to kind of get to this show."
Abhimanyu: "Even the shooting style is so different. Even though they were quite faithful to the script, there is so much more they managed to cover because of a 360-degree shoot of Ram. Even though we watched the original Penoza, after a point, we realised don't have such footage with us. It was shot so differently and we have added different layers too. We were following Penoza for the milestone. By the end of the show, we need to see what is the takeaway and what are we following it for."
Once you start editing, do you stick to the storyboard or do you add your own touch to it?
Abhimanyu: "So, all our first cuts of the scenes were true to the script, we followed what had already been written. Then we went by our instincts that if some portion of the scene was not working or it was making it too long or digressing then we'd go by our instincts and take it out."
Khushboo: "For this show, we didn't really have a storyboard at all. Ram follows a very different style of shooting. The cameras are constantly rolling and once the actor was explained what the scene is, there was no strict direction that you have to hit your mark here. We were all trying to go with how the actors act out the scene and become the characters. Then during the edit, our job became to take away anything that is extra and just keep the best parts of the actor's performance in the scene which suits the story that we're telling. And what would often happen is, there would be accidents because nobody knew what would you end up capturing. So, in the scene between Jawahar and his wife Maya, a lamp falls off. These scenes cannot be planned, cannot be predicted but these enable the accidents that add a lot of reality to the performance. So, our job then became to stop thinking about editing very traditionally. We were in a way, rewriting with these rushes at our disposal. That is what it became."
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Can you tell us about any specific scene that needed a lot of work in post-production and how you managed it?
Khushboo: "We took certain decisions about certain things not because they weren't working but we felt in the edit, we could push the scene a little more in a different direction."
Abhimanyu: "So in episode 8 has this whole backdrop of an eclipse happening and by the end of the episode we were talking about the eclipse but we never witnessed it. So to me, it was a feeling that we have been discussing it at length but haven't ever witnessed one. So that was big post-production was done to get the eclipse in the scene by compositing the clouds and sun. So that was the big post-production we had to do."
Khushboo added: "We restructured the entire scene so that viewers could see the actual death in the conjunction of the eclipse and that really elevated the mythological overtone. It really went with the idea of an apocalyptic moment. Even in episode 2 where they are mourning Tej's death, that initially was a discrete scene. Right now it has all been edited together in the cut like one large montage which culminated in Arya's character finding the pen drive. The way those scenes had been written was a bit different but when we started doing this, the idea was to show how everyone is exploring their grief. The use of tongs and a few other things had to be developed in the post."
Were there any other such instances?
Khushboo: "Even in the scene, where Bob walks into Aaru's room with breakfast and they try to jam for the first time, it was a standalone scene but now if you see an intercut with Sushmita going and meeting the blackmailer were outside by the pool were all juxtaposed later. All the scene were there in the script but one after the other. So to get them flowing together, we thought this approach would make it a little more endearing to watch. Penoza was made so many years ago so even the way we view things, it changes over time. So the style of shooting and editing helps you modernize in some way so that is what we were aiming for."
How big of a role does sound play while you're editing?
Abhimanyu: "I cannot edit without sound. I have to put each and every sound like door open, door close. It helps you imagine while editing so sound is really important. Just someone is looking at the camera and when the door slams shut, the whole feeling changes. It's right there. Sound plays a big role!"
Khushboo: "Abhimanyu was way more particular about the use of the sound design in this way because I work a little differently to him. It was a nice collaboration because both of us bother our strengths to the table. We took care of separate things and proceeded. Films are audiovisual and we may not realise it but 50% of work is done by the sound. And it happens because a certain atmosphere is created within the sound. So kudos to the sound team for pulling this especially during the lockdown."
Abhimanyu further added: "Ears have to be equally involved as your eyes I feel. Otherwise, we can be easily distracted especially working from home. So, I have to be fully engrossed and I need my eyes and ears both and sound does play an important role."
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Words fall short to explain how elated and grateful to the universe we are knowing that today, you all, our audiences can finally stream into @disneyplushotstarvip and watch #Aarya. When @amitamadhvani and I look at Aarya, we see the work of so many people behind putting it together that made it possible for us to bring our best work forward. A project close to us because of the way we accomplished the momentous task of bringing it to life. (Link in bio) ⠀ ⠀ @sushmitasen47 @singhchandrachur777 @officialrmfilms @endemolshineind @sandeipm @vinraw @rheaazz @namitdas @sikandarkher @chaudhari_manish @ankurbhatia @alexx_onell @isugandha @priyasha811 @sohaila.kapur #JayantKripalani @florasaini @mayasarao #JagdishPurohit @vishwajeetpradhan #VikasKumar @vivanguggal @virtivaghani_ @pratyakshpanwar2011 @gargi_sawant29 @richardbhaktiklein #PalashPrajapati
How is editing for a film different from editing for an OTT platform?
Khushboo: "There are differences because of the fact that in face of a film you have a captive audience, you have somebody who has perhaps paid the money, is sitting inside the theatre and saying "okay, now you have to dangle me for next 2 hours and you have my attention." With web series, I feel things work differently. You have to be much more cognizant of how you are holding on to your audience because it's so easy to get distracted. You have to keep this constant hold on attention, you cannot let that go. The other thing is that it gives you the time to really develop a character because watching 9 hours of Aarya in 2 hours of the film would not have given the luxury of understanding Jawahar, Dault or even the children the way we have. We would miss out on this nuance on the bargain. These are the two main things and they come from how you write. You cannot separate the writing process with the editing process."
Abhimanyu: "Khushboo comes from a different background. She has done long-format shows and I come from the background of twelve years of ads. So my job has been for last years is to hold attention for 60-90 seconds. So jumping from there to a 9-hour thing, it was a challenge I took for 20 days to get the grip of it. But if the script is powerful, it's about putting it together. If the characters are developed so well, the scenes are working then it holds, it automatically holds at the base well. The basic approach is not too different. It is just about holding the attention of the audience."
How do you think OTT platforms worked for new actors, technicians and others involved in the entertainment industry?
Abhimanyu: "Now you have so many OTT platforms, coming out with so much content and giving chance to actors. Everyone has loved ACP Khan's character in the show. It's about people being around but not getting due recognition. Now, this is giving them a platform with good scripts, directors. It's all coming together. Content watching is slowly shifting from social activity to an individual activity. So I think that helps to give out different types of content because it reaches a certain audience."
Khushboo: "This kind of OTT platforms enables a different kind of storytelling. The moment you are looking at something that has to work on Friday and earn 'X' amount of money, the way you sell the story starts to change. What OTT enables is a different kind of stories which maybe 10 years ago would be very scared of telling. You view things on your private devices, so it allows content differentiation and to explore the content."
Sushmita Sen makes her digital debut as the protagonist in this titular show, after staying away from the spotlight for over a decade. Popular actor Chandrachur Singh also returns to the screen in this riveting story. The show also features an ensemble cast of talented actors Namit Das, Sikandar Kher among others.
Have you watched it yet?