My affair with sound began in college

My affair with sound began in college

Sound designer Resul Pookutty, who shot to fame with his Oscar-winning work for Slumdog Millionaire, had to till the fields to watch films.

Resul Pookutty captures the sounds of a river using a set of mics.

My work for ‘2.0’ was recently nominated for the Golden Reel Award in sound editing in the foreign language feature category. My team and I were thrilled. There are eight other people who also share this honour with me because they have worked with me on this project. 

2.0 was unique in its concept and exposition. It demanded a new way of thinking and a new way of adapting technology and that’s what I have done.

By way of recognising 2.0, the Hollywood community has acknowledged that Indian technicians have found a new technology or found a new format for sound. They instantly accepted it and said that they found it to be pioneering in a certain sense. I’ve noticed that the moment they see something extraordinary they lap it up. 

Having said that, I feel every award is a recognition of one’s work. I invest a lot of time and effort in celluloid and that comes from a deep love for cinema. The time devoted also comes at the cost of spending quality time with my family. But when your work is recognised, then you feel that your efforts haven’t gone in vain.

My love affair with sound dates back to my college days when I was 18. Physics was my favourite subject and I remember my endless experiments with sound. I actually
wanted to be a physicist, so my plan was to do masters in physics and specialise in superconductivity.

But destiny had other plans I guess. I later went to film school and studied sound. There I found a better way to identify the various elements of sound. I was blessed with helpful seniors and some great teachers. 

A career in sound comes with its own challenges. I get asked a lot of times about how I come up with something new. My logic is simple: You can look at a mountain and wonder whether you can climb it, I don’t waste time wondering, I start taking baby steps to reach the summit of that mountain. If I have a challenge in front of me, I deconstruct it and start building blocks from scratch. I also believe in planning my work and I keep at least two back-ups for every plan that fails. 

A happy childhood is another thing that gives me the strength to face challenges. I have always been taught to lead an independent life, right from my childhood. We had a very ordinary upbringing with all the values taught to us. I have watched my mother work very hard in the field, tilling the land and my father was the most honest man, I have ever come across. I have imbibed qualities of both my parents and that has also been a strength. My mother made sure that we didn’t lack anything and she also made sure that we understood the value of money. She never gave us money just like that. We needed to till the land to get the money we wanted just so that we could watch movies. 

Associating with sound has taught me some valuable lessons for life. After I started working, I started thinking like a sound man and I feel sound men are the most logical lot in the process of filmmaking because they deconstruct the logic of whether a particular kind of sound is required or not.

I can say with pride that we are also the most reliable because we work towards finding reason with the audience.   

This year is going to be an important one for me because I am working towards launching my production house and also turning a director. All this, in addition, to keeping my love for sound going strong.

Resul Pookutty