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Editor-in-Chief @ Mausams

Editor-in-Chief @ Mausams

Our last Mausams sound byte before our readers head out on holidays is an interview with the editor, Jenif.

Of interest is the fact that no one on the cast of Mausams had ever met Jenif until a couple of days ago. Of even more interest is that the director, Shilpa, herself only “properly” met him 2 weeks ago (we’re discounting the breezy 3-hour meeting in Mumbai months ago when Jenif handed her the first draft of the Mausams edit) despite having worked with him on Mausams’ editing for about 4 months now.

Read on to find out more about how a UAE based Jenif has played editor in chief of Mausams that was conceptualized and shot completely in Singapore!

Note: My interview with Jenif happened under the strangest circumstances. Shilpa messaged me 2 weeks ago to say that I could interview him because he was in Singapore for about 12 days to help close out the final edits in person. I was given a number on which to call him and no more information.

I called Jenif on a Sunday morning wondering what it would be like to interview someone I have never seen or spoken to before. Jenif picked up the phone as if expecting my call and went on chat with me as if he’d known me for years.

Me: Err. Hello. Is this Jenif?

Jenif: SUDHA! Is that Sudha? Shilpa said you’d call.

Me: Indeed it is Sudha. Can you talk now? Are you in the middle of something important? (Wondering to self – ‘what do super important editor types do on a Sunday morning?’)

Jenif: Not at all! I’m just roaming around the Jurong Bird Park because I haven’t had time to see anything in Singapore for the 10 days I’ve been here. We’ve worked on the editing practically non-stop and wrapped up at 4.30 am this morning. I’m roaming around here with a friend who is far more interested in the birds than I am, so I’m MORE than happy to talk.

And THAT is how our interview began

Me: So how do you know Shilpa? Through school, college or theatre?

Jenif: I don’t really know Shilpa through any of those. In fact before this weekend in Singapore, Shilpa and I had met only briefly for a few hours in Mumbai a couple of months ago.

Me: Wait a second. Haven’t you been editing Mausams with her for the last 4 months? How could you do that without really knowing her or meeting her properly? Please do tell us how it all started.

Jenif: (Laughing) I get this precious reaction from every one who hears the story. So this is how it goes.

In 2009, Shilpa made a short movie ‘It’s Magic’ which was circulated online through Vimeo. A friend of mine saw it on Vimeo and called me to tell me about it and subsequently I visited the website and watched the movie. I was very impressed and left Shilpa a comment on the site telling her it was fantastic work and that she should never stop making movies. And she replied to that. And I replied some more. And she finally said ‘let’s stop the infinite comment thread on Vimeo and stay in touch over email’. And that, my friend, is how I got to know Shilpa.

Me: That is one hell of a story! But how did you end up on the Mausams team?

Jenif: Like I said before, Shilpa and I stayed in touch over email. She kept me updated on her upcoming project (i.e. Mausams) and I kept telling her not to worry about the setbacks and that she’d do a great job. Meanwhile I told her about my aspirations to be an editor and work in the movie industry…

Me: Wait a minute. Let’s back up here. Aspirations to be an editor? What’s YOUR story? What DO you do?

Jenif: You’re going to laugh again. I work for my family business in UAE that makes office supplies. Yes, you heard me right. Office Supplies. It’s as far from showbiz as can be. But my cousins and I have always been interested in the art of making movies and I’m sure my dad’s love for photography has a genetic role to play somewhere there. A few years back we set up our own little company called MET (Mediastation, Energy and Twism – it’s a long story. Don’t ask what or how) and started making short movies.

Our strength wasn’t really in the scripting and we knew it. What we were most fascinated by was translating ordinary scripts into extraordinary movies. We’ve participated in smaller scale contests and recently some bigger ones including Talentia – a church led contest on short movies based on the Bible. We won, by the way! Ever since, I’ve been more seriously trying to get into the Indian film industry. And that’s my story so far.

Me: Fascinating. And how does this all link back to Shilpa and Mausams?

Jenif: In course of our online exchange, Shilpa told me about this movie she was working on. It sounded exciting and I told her I’d be happy to help with editing pieces or anything else for that matter, whenever she needed it.

She agreed and started getting my help on Mausams – mainly with feedback on the script, shot breakdowns etc. It was a pretty ad hoc arrangement until 4 months ago when all the time she was spending in front of the computer doing office work and Mausams work started to take a toll on her eyes. Shilpa’s doctor was vehement about her cutting down on computer time if her eyes had to go back to normal. And this is when she basically asked me if I could take over as editor for Mausams. And I said yes!

Me: But you’re based in UAE, and she’s here in Singapore. How did you get over the sheer logistics involved?

Jenif: We piggy backed on to family members and friends travelling across countries. Shilpa sent me the initial footage tapes (35 hours worth – not little, mind you!) through my cousin who was visiting UAE and he brought them to me. I kept her updated over email and over the phone for the last 4 months as I worked through the reel trying to bring this movie to life as she intended it. The biggest challenge was how to ensure everyone gets their fair share of screen time vs. chopping off the smaller bits with the guest appearances etc. Like you, for example. You have all of 5 minutes in the movie and I was determined to keep those in.

And then a couple of months ago, it so happened that both Shilpa and I were in Mumbai at the same time. So we had a short meeting when I gave her the first cut edit. From there on it was really fine tuning of the edit, which turned out to be a nightmare when the two of us were not located in the same place. The long emails and reference edits we were sending each other were not the most efficient way to get it done. So I decided to plan a trip to Singapore to close out the final edits with her in person. And that’s why I’m here.

Me: For someone who barely even knows the director or the cast, that is an INSANE amount of effort you’ve put into this movie!

Jenif: I guess you could see it that way. Or you could see it as me treating this movie as a platform to finally showcase my work as well. I trust Shilpa and her movie making skills and I figure there’s no better project to be associated with for someone interested in serious filmmaking.

Me: And I hope this movie brings both of you the recognition you deserve. Where does the movie stand as of now?

Jenif: We’ve edited 35 hours of footage down to 2 hours. We think we have a very strong end product and this is even before sound design and music are overlaid. Mausams is well on track to premiere in April 2011, and I hope I can make it in person, no matter where in the world I am then!

And that, folks, is the amazing story of our editor Jenif. This is the Mausams pubicity team signing off until 2011. We hope to welcome you back with the story of our lead pair – Naren and Poorna. Until then, Adios!