'I love both Ajith and Vijay for their humility’
... says editor Ruben, who is the man behind two of this year's most expected films, Vivegam and Mersal
It isn’t every day that an editor gets to work on a Vijay film and an Ajith film simultaneously. Ruben’s got that privilege, and he’s also got Vikram’s Sketch alongside. He begins talking about Thursday’s release, Vivegam. “It’s an international film with Indian emotions, I’d say. It has got a good dose of love, friendship, and patriotism," he says. On the mass moments in the film, he says, “We know how audience react to such scenes. Accordingly, we give the necessary treatment. The build-up to such scenes is calculated to not disrupt the film's flow. That's something I've learned from being an assistant to editor Antony for six years," he says. "When served a food platter, we should be able to taste each and every dish, similarly, I like to compose action sequences with a bit of every shot we get."
Vivegam is nothing like Ajith's previous film, Vedhalam, Ruben says. "The effort we've put in from each department is tremendous. The location was a challenge and so was communicating with the people of Serbia. The piercing cold made it very hard to work and driving a bike or lifting a log in minus 15 degrees isn't easy at all. To fall in such weather wearing torn clothes needs almost superhuman preparation,” he says.
Above all, Ruben thinks that the trust among the crew will reflect in the quality of the work. "Some of the average films I’ve worked on would've turned out better if the makers had trusted me. The trailer of Raja Rani didn't get a good reception from the folks at Fox but Atlee, AR Murugadoss and team liked it, and we were later proved right. That’s why I like working with those I'm comfortable with."
Which actor’s film do you dream of editing?
Whose cinematography do you most enjoy working with?
George C Williams
Editors you admire
Praveen KL, Suresh, Richard Kevin (Vikram Vedha)
Favourite film of yours
Vivegam is the second time he is collaborating with director Siva. "I've generally worked with directors my age and despite being older than me by about ten years, we share great comfort. He’s a cool person, and gives us the time and space to work. Even if someone makes a mistake, he points it out in a way that they don’t get hurt. He also takes time to compliment somebody on a good job done. I think that’s better than the salary we get."
Ruben returns to a Vijay film after Theri. He calls it a "pucca commercial film”, and adds, "We couldn’t play the teaser at the audio launch as we haven't got the censor clearance yet. But I assure you, it will be worth the wait." Heaping praise on his friend and director Atlee, he says, "Atlee is a people's person. He has the unique ability of being able to keep track of everybody on the sets."
I point out that it’s rarely that a technician gets to work on a Vijay and Ajith film simultaneously. He smiles and says he’s learned a lot from both actors. "I love Ajith and Vijay for the way they rise up against all odds. They both are good at heart and their positivity is contagious. The way they handle success is a learning experience for all,” he says.
Ruben also has Irumbu Thirai, Silukkuvarupatti Singam, Ranga and Balloon in various stages of production. While it’s too early to discuss those subjects, I ask him the question that Ajith fans have been grappling with for months now. Does Ajith play a dual role in Vivegam? "What I can say is there are two characterisations with different shades. Otherwise, all I can tell you is that there is a surprise in store."