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|August 17, 2000||
'Editing for her was like cooking'Lata Khubchandani
Renu Saluja, perhaps one of the finest editors the Indian film industry has known, passed away on Wednesday at the Bombay Hospital. She had been battling with cancer of the stomach for the last six months.
Renu is most remembered for her faultless efficiency, and her incomparable skills as a technician. Her colleagues often ended up close friends. Here, some of them remember the unassuming talent that was Renu Saluja:
Viveck Vaswani, whose film, Sar Ankhon Par, went through Renu's scissors, says: "I've known her for a very long time -- she was the most solid source of support to me during the making of Sar Ankhon Par. She'd done films like Rockford, Godmother and Kareeb. Yet, she edited this one, even though she wasn't paid as much as she was for her other films. But there was no difference in her attitude to this film.
"She told me, 'You're doing good work; you must complete this.'
"I've known her since Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. That's about 12 years now. I often spent an evening with her and Sudhir Mishra, whom she was living with. She was such a mild person. I called her the 'rescuer of films'.
She rescued Split Wide Open and Dev Benegal on the editing table, in the same way she did Papa Kehte Hain and Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai.
"I remember she was married to Vidhu Vinod Chopra when they were both assisting Kundan Shah on Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Vinod was the production manager and she was the editor. Even though she later separated from Vidhu Chopra, she continued to edit all his films, and was his assistant director. He always wanted her on the sets, else he wouldn't shoot. She was the rock in his life, just as she was in Sudhir Mishra's. The two were very happy."
Binod Pradhan, cinematographer: "I've known her since our Film Institute days in 1974. She was studying editing and I was learning camera work. (Vidhu) Vinod Chopra, also a student, married her when they passed out in 1976.
"Renu was a wonderful person, very down to earth. It just would never occur to you that she was such an efficient technician -- she was so homely. I met her just four days ago at the Bombay Hospital -- she was in bad shape, and we couldn't really talk.''
Mahesh Bhatt, director, recalls: "What do you say about a person you are very fond of? Work united us, but it always remained secondary in our interaction. She was an excellent and unmatched technician; her skills were incomparable.
"That apart, I've always been charmed by this very practical woman. Editing, for her, was like cooking -- she did things so simply, never deluding herself that she was doing anything significant. I loved that quality about her.
"She did Janam for me for a paltry sum, but she worked on it with amazing sincerity. I remember when I was mixing the film at Rajkamal (studios), she was simultaneously getting the reels ready. She worked like a mother whose son takes her for granted, still expecting piping hot chapatis -- quietly, without a fuss.
"Then she worked on Papa Kehte Hain at Plus. She had to edit on this new monster programme called the Avid. She often lamented about not being able to feel the film. But she nevertheless learnt to be comfortable with it.
"As I'm talking to you, I remember her warm smile and her ability to plough through the debris film-makers would leave her with -- reels and reels of film. She really did have to wade through Bandit Queen!"
Seema Biswas of Bandit Queen, recalls: "I met her first when Shekhar Kapur asked me to go to AdLabs, where Renu was doing a rough cut of Bandit Queen. I was a little intimidated by her at first. But once we got talking, I realised I had yet to meet someone who was so talented, yet so unassuming.
"I've always marvelled at her economy of words and her homeliness. I'll always remember her as a person who was so positive that she made you feel reassured by just being near her. She was the first person who made me feel I was an actress with something to offer in Bombay. In fact, she'd tell whoever was around us, 'She's very talented; you must give her good work.' That gave me confidence because I was so new to the industry."
Sajid Khan, television personality: "I don't believe it. I was convinced she was getting better. I knew her well. She had edited one of my shows, Channel Mast. I always felt she was an inspiration for all the women in the industry."
Amit Khanna, CEO, Plus Channel: "I've known her for 20 years. She edited my film Shesh, and was associated with Plus since its inception. She edited three films for us: Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin, Papa Kehte Hain and Mil Gayi Manzil Mujhe.
"I met her two weeks ago at her home. She seemed better that day though we all knew she was terminally ill. She was perhaps the best film editor in the country -- there's no denying the fact. She worked with the whole range of directors, from the small-time ones to big directors like Subhash Ghai.
"But, for me, she will always remain a friend."
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