Oscar winner Resul Pookutty talks silence and sound at SIBF 2018

  • Saturday 10, November 2018 in 4:25 PM
Sharjah 24: Long before he became an Oscar-winning sound designer, Resul Pookutty had briefly nurtured a dream of becoming an actor. He had even sent his application for a child artist in a Malayalam film, but another child was selected for the role. “I sank into depression,” Pookutty writes in his autobiography Sounding Off (Penguin India, 2012). Gracing the stage on the sidelines of the 37th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2018), he released the book along with the Guest of Honour for the evening Ashraf Ali, Executive Director of Lulu Group International.
The childhood dream of becoming an actor was forgotten as Pookutty forged an estimable career in sound design through such films as “Black”, “Gandhi My Father”, “Saawariya”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, Enthiran and “Highway”. Pookutty will finally realise his acting dream in the “The Sound Story”, in which he sets out to record the sonic experience of the annual Pooram festival in Thrissur in Kerala. 
He then shares how a nagging question of what he wants to do next, led him to do Pooram as a project, “After I won the Oscar, many journalists kept asking me what my next dream project would be? So, just to quieten everyone I said I’d like to record the Thrissur Pooram live. Pooram is the biggest festival in the year, if you see in terms of sound alone. This interview was watched by a Malayali settled in America, who called me up and said he’d like to fund the project.” 
The Thrissur Pooram was a challenging choice for the audio engineer. Among the festival’s many attractions is the ‘melam’, a three-hour performance of percussion instruments. “I sensed transcendental sound there,  that was Pooram to me. It’s not just the music, but the sound of the entire tradition, one that has been carried over for a thousand years. Pooram became my expression of sound.” 
When he began his mega audio recording exercise, it was decided that the process would be simultaneously filmed but something felt incomplete. So, he researched into all the elements of the festival and realised elephants play a crucial part. Following this, what he discovered was quite a revelation. 
Concluding the session, Pookutty said, “While in today’s fast paced world, neighbours have forgotten to converse with each other and thus we are losing a sense of sound through regular conversations, it is this memory that I am trying to poke through all my works. Society will stray, but it will come back because ultimately human mind wants to find liberation through one’s soul and speech and sound play a crucial role there.”