New Delhi: Resul Pookutty became the first Asian to win an Academy Award in a technical category for 'Slumdog Millionaire' but he had never dreamt of such a great honour during his childhood in Kerala. The simple, nature-loving maverick opens up about his life, struggle, philosophies and future endeavours.
Q: Is this true that you were put in school because you couldn't be controlled at home?
A: We don't have any control on our breath when we born. Things just happen to us when we grow up, nobody asks us to go to school in our childhood but my mother put me in school one year earlier than others because we were making too much ruckus at home. You know my age is one year more in certificates than my actual age. She delivered ten babies, I am the 10th one, so it was difficult for her to manage household with 5 or 6 of us around.
Q: You talk about nature very candidly in your book 'Sounding Off'.
A: I started doing things on my own very early in life which provided me a sort of independence. My siblings were very close knit and you don't learn from your family only, so the whole surrounding was there. The kind of life I lived shaped me. Sometimes I wonder whether my son or daughter would have a life like that!
I am the sum total of whatever happened in my life. Today I can communicate my feelings anywhere in the world, friends compliment me on my language but surprisingly nobody ever taught me these things. It's my confidence of dealing with life that my emotions get communicated.
Q: Such thinking must have led to a philosophy.
A: Nobody can stop talent. Nobody could have stopped Rahman or Sachin Tendulkar.
Q: That means destiny doesn't have any role in your life.
A: I was somebody who never believed in destiny, I was a complete non-believer, I don't know whether I am a believer now or not because I am still confused. I never craved for anything. I never wanted to be rich or famous, all I wanted was to do things I love. In that sense I can look back and say that I was destined to be here.
Q: Did the process continue even after coming to FTII?
A: FTII opened me to other people's lives, my life to others, art, culture and everything that was at the back of my mind. It just gathered all the memories and put everything in order.
I formed an opinion about Indian cinema when I was at FTII only. I used to think why Indian cinema is so far from the actual life unlike European cinema, and I realised it from the way sound was done in those movies. Thus I decided to create a library of Indian sound and to bring back the live sound recording process.
Q: How was the first encounter with the professional world?
A: Initially, Bombay as a city depressed me and I wanted to go back. I came to attend one last film festival in Bombay and I thought my life as a filmmaker is over but then someone called me and I was back on the right track.
People told me even in the beginning that you are international. I did 3-4 films thinking globally but then I felt the need to change. Then I did 'Black' and that proved decisive.
Q: But I thought 'Slumdog Millionaire' would have established you as a sound designer.
A: It's like 'Zanjeer' for Amitabh Bachchan. It was that Friday which changed my life. When I was working on 'Slumdog Millionaire' I thought some foreigners are making a film and it will never come out of film festivals but they allowed me to do what I wanted to do. It paid back in the end.
Q: Which film is really close to your heart?
A: A film that is really close to my heart is 'Gandhi My Father'. Every artist thinks of what he should do as an artist, but with this film I was thinking of what I shouldn't do. I was dealing with the life of Gandhi who I identify with.
Q: What do you think could be the next level of sound designing?
A: Sound has come to a point where it is important for the production value, it's a quantum leap but we are always constrained in terms of time and money for sound. We need to invest more in sound and then our films will become far more superior. We need to stop confusing music with sound designing.
Q: You are venturing into direction as well.
A: After working with Danny and other capable directors I have gained the confidence to talk to the actors in the language they understand.
Q: Are we going to see your future work anytime soon?
A: I am looking forward to Rajat Kapoor's film 'Aankhon Dekhi' in which I am exploring Delhi. Then there is this Salim Mohammad film with Mammootty in the lead. A couple of Hollywood projects are also there, a light and sound show in Andaman is also due apart from a European film based on an artist's life.