A film editor from another era
His is as soft-spoken as they come. Unassuming, shy to speak about his career. But propelled by his eldest daughter Bhuvana, he spoke. Even as a child, N.S. Suppurathinam was keen in being a part of the film industry. “I knew I wouldn’t fit in as hero, so I decided to become a lab technician,” he says. After two years at the Vauhuni Studios, he turned assistant film editor in 1956, editing on a freelance basis. This would be his work for the following 40 years and more. During this period, he edited more than 40 Tamil films, 50 Malayalam films and ten Telugu films. His first film was Ondru Pattal Onde Vazhvu, starring Prem Nazir, Muthuraman and E.V. Saroja. Arivali (Sivaji Ganesan, Banumathy) and Rani Samyukta (MGR, Banumathy) followed. Then Suppurathinam was called to work in a series of films starring K.R. Vijaya – Thirudi, Vazhyadi, Rosakari, Thai Veedu Seedanam, Mayor Meenakshi and Sonthangal Vazhlge. Some of the Malayalam films he remembers doing include Moodu Padam (starring Satyan), Mudanaya Puthran (Satyan) and Thacholi Udayanam (Prem Nazir). In Telugu, he edited Sambrala Ram Babu (Chalam) and Marupuranithalli (Krishna).
Suppurathinam worked for some of the well-known names in the South Indian film industry – producer-director-editor A.T. Krishnaswamy, and editors Chakrapani, B. Kandaswamy, M.V. Rajan, S.P.S. Veerappan, Angi Reddy, G. Venkataraman, N.M. Shankar and Madhu. “There were few people then in the editing profession, no competition like there is now. Then it was all about arranging shots in sequence and putting them into the editing machine called ‘movieala’, a condemned machine now,” says Suppurathinam, who spent the best days of his life in studios and hardly found time to watch films. “Father was such a sincere worker. Cars would arrive to pick and drop him. He would sometimes remain for days in the studios and we went there to provide him change of clothes,” says Bhuvana. With computerisation and youngsters, Suppurathinam found it difficult to work. He continues to be an active member of the South India Film Editors Association though.
Suppurathinam was born in Nagar Village, near Lalgudi, Tiruchy. His father N.B. Subramania Iyer was a schoolteacher. One of seven brothers and two sisters, Suppurathinam studied at the National High School, Tiruchy. In 1953, he arrived in Madras with less than Rs 20 in his pocket.
Suppurathinam is an animal lover. He has raised white rats, squirrels, rabbits, lovebirds, and a dozen dogs!