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Sound of success

The low profile Resul Pookutty,36,is well known in film circles as a talented sound technician,however,he’s gone largely unnoticed so far despite biggish projects like Ghajini (2008) and Saawariya (2007).

Written by Debesh Banerjee |
February 17, 2009 5:46:43 am

Resul Pookutty chats about the relevance of a golden statue for an Indian technician

The low profile Resul Pookutty,36,is well known in film circles as a talented sound technician,however,he’s gone largely unnoticed so far despite biggish projects like Ghajini (2008) and Saawariya (2007).

Winning the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Awards) for the best sound designer in Slumdog Millionaire has completely changed that and Pookutty says he is loving the attention.

“Technicians are always in the background. Finally,I get to hog the limelight,let me enjoy it,” he jokes,via phone from Mumbai,before flying off to Los Angeles for the Oscars where he’s nominated for Best Sound Mixing.

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Pookutty tells us that he’s always secretly dreamt of an Oscar. “I took a big gamble in this film and am glad it paid off,” he says. Pookutty used the sync-sound technique for the first time in his career.

“You can smell the city through the sounds in the film. And recording sound in a noisy city like Mumbai is almost impossible. So I used a combination of micro phoning and multi track recording over 20 microphones placed at different places at the same time. The film demanded it,since it was unconventionally shot,in a combination of digital and analog formats using multiple cameras,” he explains. Pookutty is acutely aware of the relevance of being nominated at the world’s most important cinema awards but he’s trying hard not to let it overwhelm him.

“I’m ecstatic that Rahman’s genius is being recognised after composing music for over 135 films in his career,” he adds.

In fact,before the Oscars ceremony on February 22,Pookutty has his hopes pinned on an award from the Cinema Audio Society Association,USA,who have nominated him for best sound designer,Slumdog Millionaire. “This association rewards only sound designers and mixers. The award comes with an honorary recognition and I am the youngest person to have been nominated for it,” says Pookutty.

He faces stiff competition from sound designers of Wall E,The Dark Knight and Quantum of Solace.

Little is known about Pookutty before Slumdog… thrust him into the limelight. After graduating in sound recording from the Film and Television Institute of India,Pune,in 1995 he started off with Rajat Kapoor on a film that sunk,Private Detective (1997).

“If my father had his way,I would be arguing corporate law suits for multi-national companies as a lawyer,” smiles Pookutty. But fortunately for cinema,he dropped out of Government Law College,Trivandrum,in the second year. “While studying in FTII,I asked myself why European cinema sounded so natural. There was no one capturing natural sound here,” he says.

Pookutty’s fortunes changed with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black (2005) for which he bagged all major Sound Recording awards except for the National Award. “Even though Black was pretty much a silent film,I got a chance to give a deep,dark texture to the sound.” Of the 30-odd films he has done,Pookutty regards his work in Gandhi My Father,as his most accomplished piece.

“I had to read into Gandhi’s life and record sound accordingly. But sometimes you don’t get recognition for one’s best work,” he says philosophically. Look out for Pookutty,for he’s packing a traditional Indian outfit,a dark grey Jodhpuri suit,to wear on the Oscar night. “I feel more comfortable in traditional wear,” he says.

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