Thought of my work getting nominated didn’t cross my mind: Emmy-nominated Nirupama Rajendran 

The 23-year-old sound effects editor has just been nominated in the category of ‘Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction or Reality Programme
Nirupama Rajendran
Nirupama Rajendran

Sound effects editor Nirupama Rajendran, who has secured an Emmy nomination for her work in The Tinder Swindler, talks about the experience of working on the documentary and her desire to work on Indian films

When the year’s Emmy nominations were announced, Nirupama Rajendran was busy working in her London studio. And her phone hasn’t stopped buzzing since. The 23-year-old sound effects editor has just been nominated in the category of ‘Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction or Reality Programme (Single or Multi-Camera)’ for her exceptional work in the British true crime documentary film, The Tinder Swindler.

“Initially, I thought the film itself was nominated, which made me happy too. The thought of my work getting nominated didn’t even cross my mind. My career has just started, in fact,” says Nirupama, adding that the realisation of an Emmy nomination is gradually sinking in. “The last couple of days have been so overwhelming that I didn’t even have the time to think of anything. Thank you for making me think of myself,” she says.

Nirupama says that The Tinder Swindler was an interesting project to work on since it possessed a cinematic-style, despite being a documentary. The film is about Simon Leviev, an Israeli conman who used the dating application Tinder to dupe women to support his lavish lifestyle. The documentary interviews his victims and shows them uncovering his true identity with the help of journalists.

“This documentary is quite cinematic because its narrative switches back and forth a lot. We wanted the sound design and effects to be quite slick,” explains Nirupama, who credits the sound designer for giving her complete creative freedom. “We had only seven to eight days to work on every little effect. From keyboard touches to screenshots, it’s a bit of everything, and the mixing decides what must be accentuated.”

Since the documentary speaks of the plight of Leviev’s victims, Nirupama had to show sensitivity in her approach. “We were cautious not to glamourise Leviev’s character and personality. Instead, we focused on the victims and highlighted their experiences.” Born to Malayali parents, Rajendran and Smitha, Nirupama presently works for Molinare, a post-production company based in London. Coincidentally, she was at home in Kozhikode when the film premiered on Netflix in February.

“It was a great feeling to watch it with my family, and see how proud they were,” she says.
Nirupama is a keen follower of Indian cinema and the sound scene here. “I love the work in Fazil’s old films, and more recently, I really liked the sound design in Kumbalangi Nights and Minnal Murali. Once I gain enough experience, I hope to work in Malayalam and Tamil cinema,” she says.

Nirupama is aware that not many understand the nuances of sound and the work that goes into it, but it came as a shock to her when the Academy combined sound mixing and sound editing into
a single category.

“When the general audience doesn’t notice the sound work, it is a compliment because it means that they were so immersed in the film. It’s such a shame when the Academy categorises us into one big amorphous group. I hope they rethink their decision,” she says. For now, Nirupama’s nomination has made enough noise in the industry.

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