Posted: Feb 23, 2009
The Oscar winner for sound mixing had almost walked out of Slumdog Millionaire after a tiff.
Resul Pookutty almost made the biggest mistake of his life during the making of Slumdog Millionaire. The sound mixer, who's just picked up an Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing at Los Angeles's Kodak Theatre, felt the Slumdog team wasn't giving sound its due importance. After a heated exchange with Danny Boyle, Pookutty walked out of the film, only to be wooed back by the filmmaker.
Just before he left for foreign shores, to pick up the trophies from the BAFTA and Cinema Audio Society (CAS) award and now the Oscar, Pookutty said: "I would have been crying now had I not been persuaded to join the project back."
"It was a difficult project and Danny was very demanding. It put a lot of strain on me emotionally and physically," Pookutty recalled. Since the film was shot in Mumbai, a "very noisy city", in motion, the sound designer had trouble recording the sound from the viewers' perception. In keeping with the film's flavour, Pookutty decided to record the soundscape of the city.
The sequences shot at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus were among the toughest. "Since I wanted to record the sound of city life, I positioned my assistants with mikes across the station," he said.
In fact, after a career spanning 13 years in the industry, Pookutty applied fresh tactics for this film. "I had to keep my usual techniques aside and constantly reinvent ways of getting the best possible sound," he revealed.
Like most, Pookutty said he didn't have much inkling Slumdog Millionaire would go on to become such a huge phenomenon, though he was a fan of Boyle after watching Trainspotting. "I even had a poster of Trainspotting in my room at FTII," he said.
When he first met Boyle, the FTII graduate was in awe of him. He was tongue-tied when the British director asked him to suggest some films he should watch to know about his sound designing style. The 36-year-old replied, "Watch any of my films, you will find my mark." When he met Boyle for the second time, Pookutty said, he found that the director had done his homework.