Name: Resul Pookutty
Occupation: Sound engineer, sound editor and mixer for movies
Father’s Name: Pazhayatheruvil Thambikunju Pookutty
Father’s Occupation: Former bus ticket inspector
The story of Resul Pookutty, who won an Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing in Slumdog Millionaire in 2009, is also the story of the sleepy little village of Vilakkupara, around 58km from Kollam, in Kerala.
Till class VII, Resul walked 6km each day to the Malayalam-medium Vilakkupara Government LP School. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, his village had no electricity. It stayed that way till Resul completed class XII. He studied by the light of a kerosene lamp in Vilakkupara, which roughly translates into a rustic lamp house. Also the winner of the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best Sound for Slumdog, he was the youngest of eight siblings in a middle-class Muslim family. His father, a private bus ticket inspector who died seven years ago, wanted him to be a doctor—a popular choice in Kerala then.
Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
“Walking to school was never tough because we just enjoyed that journey,” recalls Resul. “There is still a kutty (child) in me and in my name. Childhood days were fun; the village was self-sufficient and there was no pressure. But that has changed now,” he says.
The longer journey began when he travelled to the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune after finishing BSc in Physics and enrolling for a law course. It took him two attempts to get in, a natural progression for someone who watched a lot of movies as a young man.
Baiju Natarajan, co-author of Pookutty’s autobiography Shabdatharapadham (The Milky Way of Sound) published by Malayala Manorama and Penguin Books India, says, “He never had a single moment of boredom in his life. He was happy all the time. His real struggle came when he was looking for a career.”
As a student of physics, “sound” became an obvious career choice. After moving to Mumbai, he worked in several Bollywood films before the call came from a line producer asking if he wanted to work with Danny Boyle, one of Resul’s favourite film-makers.
He shrugs off the notion that the Oscar changed his life. “I am the same. The same Kutty.” With the biggest trophy in the cabinet, Resul is back chasing another long-standing passion—a sound that haunts him. “The rhythm of the sound raindrops make on grass. I am after that.”
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