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Oscar winning sound engineer speaks at ICSK conference
December 6, 2016, 12:46 pm

The first-ever Mega Arts Festival 2016 organized in Kuwait by the Indian Community School Kuwait (ICSK) attracted more than 2,000 students from Indian schools across Kuwait. Aside from the impressive artistic talents displayed by students, a highlight of the occasion was the attendance of notable names in the field of Indian cinema such as Oscar award winner Dr. Resul Pookutty and, cine artist and dancer Sudha Chadran.

Dr. Pookutty is a sound designer, sound editor and mixer, who is highly-regarded in the music industry both in India and abroad. He is most recognized for winning the 2009 Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing in the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.  Early this year, he once again made his country proud by becoming the first Asian to win the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound at the 63rd annual awards ceremony by the Motion Picture Sound Editors of United States. The award was in recognition of his sound engineering for the 2015 documentary, 'India's Daughter'.

At a press conference arranged succeeding the Mega Arts Festival 2016 at ICSK – Salmiya, on 3 December, Dr. Pookutty spoke about his background and career. He began by saying that it was his first visit to Kuwait and that he was happy to be here, and that he thoroughly enjoyed the performance put up by the kids at the arts festival.

Dr. Pookutty emerged from humble beginnings; he was born in an impoverished family in Vilakkupara, Kerala. The youngest of eight children, he had to struggle through many difficulties in life. Briefly touching on his past life, the sound maestro said that he believed his rags to riches story could be an inspiration to others in a similar situation. “I never thought I would reach this level of stardom or be invited as a chief guest to a school function,” he said.

“I hope to inspire others through my efforts; I have written my autobiography titled ‘Shabda Tharapadam (Milky Way of Sound), which gives many particulars about my life. It all sounds like a fairytale story, even to my own children.” He added that many children in India growing up in poverty–stricken circumstances face some of the same issues that he faced in early life.

He added that he believes those from difficult circumstances have to work harder than most others to succeed in life, especially in the fields of art and culture. “If you look at art and culture throughout India, the people who made it big were not born with a silver spoon nor did they have the best circumstances. After coming from miserable conditions, they eventually transformed themselves and surpassed their own limitations to become figures of adoration. For example, no one thought that Dr. Ambedkar would rise above the stranglehold of the caste system to help write the Constitution of India, but he did.”

Speaking about his sudden stardom, he noted that while he agrees with people who say that it happened overnight after he won the award, “It was really 14 years in the making. I chose a career that had no jobs and it was a difficult line to break into. Moreover, no one was willing to accept my ideas initially. It was my persistence that eventually paid off.”

The audience listened in rapt attention as he elaborated on the development of sound in the film industry and its growth to eventually become an essential component of films.

“With the Oscar that I received for my work in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, there is a new energy, a new enthusiasm, and a new awareness about sound. So with that, I’d say we are going through a golden period in the changing face of Indian cinema,” he said.

On the question of what students can do to achieve his level of advancement in the music field, he replied, “Students should not get carried away by surface perceptions. Sound is a highly complex subject that requires you to take a deeper look into all the aspects that come together to make the ‘complete package’. It needs you to observe the things around you from a ‘sound’ perspective. After all, the ‘audio’ is what makes the AV experience complete.”

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