Not many took notice of sound designers as their names were just part of credits rolling at the end of a film screening. Until Resul Pookutty winning an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire along with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke changed all of that. The arduous journey of this sound expert has given birth to some of the most revered moments for the Indian film industry, captivating a worldwide audience through his work. The proof lies in him being touted as one of Bollywood’s top sound designers, the first Asian to win the Golden Reel award and a recipient of the Padma Shri.
Hailing from a modest background, the dreams and ambitions of becoming a sound designer were awakened only after completing school by studying under the light of a kerosene lamp and finishing a bachelor’s degree in physics from MSM College, Kayamkulam. While pursuing a career in law, Pookutty heard of a sound engineering course at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. He took up the course thinking that it was an extension of his physics studies only to discover the world of cinema, and there has been no looking back since. Pookutty believes that the FTII is a symbol of a common man’s aspirations and dreams and dreamt of making an Oscar-winning film right here.
In a quick chat with with Pune365, Pookutty recalled how his years at FTII have given him some of his fondest memories of Pune. “Way back in 1990 when I walked into the campus of FTII, I never knew what those hanging banyan trees kept in store for me. Through the years, the city gave me everything. I discovered music, theatre, architecture, painting, cinema and life itself. It has given me Hanuman Tekdi and Parvati Hill to keep close to my heart. It gave me Kishori Amonkar, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and the Dagar brothers… All these together form what I’m today. Pune runs in my blood and some blood of mine lies in Pune,” reminisces Pookutty.
His association and support for the institute was revived during the recent FTII students’ agitation. He believes that the sanctity of the institute must be maintained and his views on the protest were resonated by students.
From growing up in an ordinary family in Kerala, Pookutty made his debut with the 1997 film Private Detective: Two Plus Two Plus One, directed by Rajat Kapoor. He shot to fame with the critically acclaimed 2005 film Black, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Working on major productions through the years, he’s won many accolades including for his work on the documentary India’s Daughter that won him the Golden Reel Award for best sound. His next endeavour will be working on a biopic on the life of celebrated author and poet Kamala Das, starring Vidya Balan.
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