Hours before he boarded the flight late Friday night in Mumbai for the Oscar Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Resul Pookutty switched off his mobile, promising to himself not to switch it on until the event is over on Sunday night (Monday morning in India).
That’s because Pookutty, who has been nominated for the Academy Award for Sound Mixing in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, wants to keep himself free from any sign of nerves, something he faced immensely as he took endless number of calls on his mobile in the run up to his BAFTA win some days ago.
“My only preparation for the awards is that I will enjoy this lifetime opportunity of attending the Oscar Awards ceremony without any expectation. Getting nominated for the Oscars itself is like the Oscar won for me. So, I am switching off my mobile to avoid all ‘best wishes’ calls that act as pressure pills, and just enjoy the feeling there,” Pookutty told Deccan Herald from Mumbai even as he was doing last-minute packing.
As a technician, FTII alumni Pookutty, who has done sound designing for films like Gandhi My Father, Ghazini, Saawariya, Black, etc., personally is more excited about the Cinema Audio Society (CAS) award that he has just won for the same film.
“CAS is much bigger in terms of achievement as a technician because it is given by an exclusive club of the world’s top 500 sound technicians, the people who really know what sound means for a film,” he said. Incidentally, he has been inducted into CAS, the first Indian sound technician to receive the honour.
But Oscars, he said, held immense value because of its huge popular reach. “When I won the BAFTA or the CAS, there was not much interest, but as soon as I got the Oscar nomination (along with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke, with whom he jointly won the CAS too), the media started chasing me,” said Pookutty, who worked as production mixing engineer (location) for Slumdog Millionaire.
Looking back, Pookutty terms Slumdog.. as an experience that brought new challenges everyday during its shooting. “When I first read the script, I told Danny ‘you are making a full-on Hindi film’. But when the shooting started, I realised that it was an extremely difficult project. I had to reinvent myself for this film, and decided to record the soundscape of Mumbai rather than recording merely the sound,” he said.
But at the end of the day, Pookutty does feel that it might have felt better if he could have won such recognition for an Indian film. “Without diminishing the fantastic work Danny and (producer) Christian Colson did by choosing to work with Indian technicians like A R Rahman and me for a film in India, I must say that the joy would have been 100 times more if I could have earned such accolade for an Indian project.
“There are internationally-acclaimed Indian filmmakers like Shekhar Kapur, Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta, but they have not given technicians like me the opportunity to work with them. Danny wanted a sound man, a musician from here – its’ their conviction,” he said.