Renu Saluja, who edited Bandit Queen died a few years after, still very young. She was one of the best editors in India. The Film and Television Institute of India is paying a tribute to her. Here is mine …
For me it is difficult to separate the person from the work. I have fought all my life to merge who I am with what I am and what I do. So the greatest wrong I could do to Renu is to write words about Renu”s proffesional life without her personal.
The most striking thing about Renu was her compassion. She exuded it. She enveloped you with it. It was like you were walking into a comfortable Aura. That is what I remember about Renu most. How beautiful it was to be in her presence.
She was like an Angel. And in her death she proved to be one. Her last words to me from her hospital bed were not about her pain. She never spoke about that. Her last words to me were about those that would be left behind.
I have always worked better with editors that are women. Although I have a strong sense of my own feminine self, in the battle of making a film, my male side starts to dominate, and it needs to be counteracted by the feminine when it gets into editing. I also believe that the editing process is a ‘nurturing’ process.And that also is one of my great memories of Renu. Her innate sense of nurturing that she brought to her films.
As you see, beyond a certain standard of professional excellence, what differentiates a great artist from an good one is the nature of the person itself.
I guess every film defines the way the editor ad the director work. Renu and I watched all the rushes together after I finished Bandit Queen. There was little chance to review rushes during the filming. After that Renu and I would look at one reel at a time. She would do the first cut. I would come in and make comments and she would do it again. If there were further things to do after that, she and I would do it together. But I would always ask her to do the first couple of cuts herself. That way the film would get another, and often completely different point of view. There were things in the final version of Bandit Queen that were definitely not in the shooting of it. That was Renu. She was always in empathy with the film and it’s characters.
Renu must have found me strange. I would often come in and lock myself in a room. She would hear me shout and scream inside. That was because I wanted to be angry when I saw any cut of the film. Without that, I did not believe I could judge it. We Directors are very very strange sometimes, and we need to have editors who can hold our hand and guide us through our periods of doubt and eccentricities.
Renu was that friend, and she is sorely missed.