'I always panic like a small boy'

'I always panic like a small boy'

Sound too plays an important part. And we have technicians, who have stretched themselves to acquire that perfect sound. For instance, Resul Pookkutty — a known perfectionist roamed the busy Mumbai streets and recorded the City’s sounds for Slumdog Millionaire. The sounds impressed the jury so much that they awarded him with an Oscar for sound design.

And recently, Resul made 200 men march in a thick jungle, just to get the foot-thumping sound correct! This time it was for Pazhassi Raja, the Malayalam historical film. He has also dived underwater in the Bahamas to get actual deep sea sounds for the Hindi film Blue! Isn’t all this a bit too much? “Pazhassi Raja was already shot when I came on board. I am used to listening for sounds day in and day out. Pazhassi Raja is a historical film, involving war and battle sequences. But it belonged to a different period, different time - there was no light and sound reference to go by. I needed to construct the whole sound structure from scratch. Each sound had to be authenticated, to match the period. I took some junior artists with me and got the sound recorded. Yes, it is something not normally done. But it doesn’t matter to me - I just did what I did,” Resul brushes off his ‘adventures’.

So, what are the hazards he has encountered in his profession? “Anything to everything! The main ‘hazard’ would be the recreation of things — recreating all worlds in their original form. For instance, I got a blacksmith to make these swords and shields that make this swish sound, to enhance the dramatic effect. The shield alone weighed 46 kgs, I couldn’t lift it! So, yeah, I won’t call it a hazard but a hardship. A lot of physicality is involved. I make my life difficult,” he laughs wryly which says it all.

Is that how he designed sound for Pazhassi Raja? “The work involved a lot of sound research. The story, set in between 1795 and 1805, is of an Indian prince and the British. The sounds that I made had to sound British. I searched the International Gun Library, to find out what guns were used and how did they sound when used, etc. The film also has a lot of tribal fights. A lot of Kalari is involved here and we got people who are well-versed in using urmi weapon. I tried using it myself but got hurt. For me, every movie is my first movie. I always panic like a small boy, who has been asked to swim in the big sea! I still feel that I should have had a month more for best results, or at least a week. If you keep working, you can polish it up. Creative work is like that.”

For Blue, Resul himself dived underwater, enjoying the marvels of the marine world and came up with some amazing sound effects. “In Blue, I was again involved in action sequences, which have not been attempted before. The story centres around a shipwreck. The director was picky about the sounds he wanted. So I went deep-sea diving to record the actual sounds of deep sea that identify with the storyline. For this, I procured special hydrophones from Aquarian Audio Products, USA. The film is made on an international level, shot the way an international movie is shot.”

Resul, who admires the work of Vikram Joglekar, Ben Burtt, Walter Murch, Glenn Freemandle and Randy Thom is booked for the next two years.

 His upcoming releases, apart from Pazhassi Raja, are Blue, Prince and a couple of small films. Will he do any Kannada film? “Offers are pouring in from the South. If time permits, then why not?” he says before signing off.  

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