Satyajit Ray - Editing

“Editing is the stage where a film really begins to come to life and one is never more aware of the uniqueness of the film medium than in watching a well-cut scene pulsate with a life of own,” he wrote.He and his editor Dulal Dutta edited the rushes as the shooting progressed. The final cutting was limited to refining the film. 

Much of Ray’s editing was done in the camera, as he was very clear about his intentions before he began shooting. He shot very little beyond the point where the cut would come. He did not shoot an additional take just for safety’s sake. If the first take was really good, he did not do a second take. It made his shooting ratio astonishingly low. This was also dictated by the limited resources available to him to make films.

He was quite ruthless with his own footage. Dutta, Ray’s regular editor, operated while Ray stood behind, crying out “Cut”. Dulal Dutta, however, made his contribution in scenes of dialogues. “These offer endless variations of emphasis, unlimited scope for pointing up shades of feeling. It is not unusual for an important dialogue scene to be cut in half a dozen different ways before a final satisfactory form is achieved”, he wrote. 

Editing in his films demonstrates an economy, flow and poetry.

Satyajit Ray with his son, editing THE CHESS PLAYERS.©Pablo Bartholomew, 1978
Satyajit Ray with his son, editing THE CHESS PLAYERS.©Pablo Bartholomew, 1978
Satyajit Ray editing
Satyajit Ray editing