Tamil Features

Get To Know: VT Vijayan, Film Editor

What’s a day in the life of a technician like? We attempt to find out through this fortnightly column.


VT Vijayan is notoriously reclusive. A quick Google search yields much less than you’d expect of an award-winning editor, with over two decades of experience. But, that’s the way Vijayan prefers it.

“I am not sure I have a very good relationship with the public side of my job. I like fixing things. I like puzzles. I just don’t like talking about it,” Vijayan says.

At one point in his career, Vijayan worked on seven to eight films at a time. These days, it has trickled down to one. “Zero, sometimes. But when someone insists, I say okay.”

Director Hari is one of the few who insists on Vijayan being a part of his projects. “There’s just no denying Hari. He is a force of nature,” Vijayan laughs.

Vijayan spent his early days assisting, and then working with B Lenin. “Everything was linear then. All we had to do was figure out how the director wanted the story to be, and then help him convey it to the audience. Now, with digital editing and the non-linear format, life can become frustrating.”

A typical day at work for the editor would involve multiple calls and meetings with his post-production team. “By the time the content comes to us, everything about the film is done with. The sets are in storage, the actors are working in other films. So it gets a little strange. Not to mention hectic. Without constant communication, we never get the output the director wants.”

One gets the sense that Vijayan is ill at ease with the way film-editing has changed. “I may not have kept up with the times. But, I try. These days, I prefer working with and mentoring young up and comers. It makes life meaningful. There’s no point in participating in a race that has rules you don’t know anything about.”


In the eighties, his work days were a lot easier. “The tapes would be provided in chronological order. All we’d have to do is sit, watch it, and step in when there were inaccuracies. Now, my assistants have to organise it all chronologically first. It’s tiresome work, but someone has to do it.”

This is followed by hectic back-and-forth with the director. “Sometimes, I invite them to stay with me. It is more comfortable when the director is around. Editors need to be master storytellers, but that doesn’t mean that we can just play around with the vision the director has for his film.”

There’s a lot of tightrope walking involved, Vijayan says. “We need to be nimble with our minds, hands and feet. Else, we’ll end up making a whole new film than the one the director envisioned.”


Sometimes, Vijayan and his assistants lose track of time. Food, he chuckles, is their clock. “If we’re given tea a couple of hours after full meals, then its 4 PM.”

Editing is largely solitary work. It consumes one, and has even claimed the life of young editor Kishore TE. Vijayan rues the circumstances and work pressure that lead to such deaths. “There’s a lot of pressure involved. Majority of the films are not executed on schedule. Editors, in particular, are not given enough time to finish their work. It’s stress, stress, stress all the time. Why do you think most of us are bald?”

The Vijay Sethupathi-starrer, Karuppan, edited by Vijayan, hit the screens today.


Image courtesy: Facebook account Of VT Vijayan