Resul Pookutty is an Indian film sound designer, sound editor and audio mixer. He won the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing for Slumdog Millionaire. He has worked in Hollywood, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam films. Resul lives in Mumbai. He has been honoured with the Padma Shri award.
I am a sound craftsman. I create images with sounds by carefully assimilating pieces and elements of sounds by sculpting through time. I reached the amazing world of sounds, which grew into me as an art, through means that are beyond the realm of the natural and very similar to the sacred syllable ‘Om’ that reverberates boundless and limitless. The world of sound along with its intangible designs embraced me and continue to grow unbounded within me.
I was born in a humble middle-class family in a remote Kerala village at a time when labour movements, the working class and downtrodden, who were part of the political ‘left’ movement, were streaming ahead to create history. I had read pioneering stories of people who were leading such fearless struggles with a lot of excitement and had also witnessed a few. I was in awed of selfless leaders who gave their life and energy to work for the progress of state and country. I was influenced by them along with the life and work of many spiritual leaders and social reformers like Sree Narayana Guru, who had worked towards the upliftment of people in Kerala with a farsighted vision, within its complex cultural history.
Many a times, during my studies in lower classes, history amazed me while also leaving me unconvinced, at times. I saw struggles in the pages of history that Mahatma Gandhiji took and the courage he garnered while leading the fight against racism in a foreign South African land. I imagined Abraham Lincoln, studying under a street lamp and becoming the President of the United States, while I sat in a small cow dung plastered room under a kerosene lamp. The more I thought and imagined about them, the more I got confused. So the logic behind the history being written always baffled me. I had always wondered how Gandhiji who came from South Africa to India became the national leader, when communication was not like in today’s time. Even the logic behind the evolution of history from street lamps to the White House was not mentioned in the books to my satisfaction.
But today, as I write about India’s Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi I have overcome those doubts. Because as an experienced director of sound and its design, I now know that sometimes a select few sounds surpasses their natural course and become loud voices the whole nation would love to listen to. These inspiring voices will push all other sounds in the background and reverberates in the eardrums of a nation.
People like me dream, yearn and are in a pursuit of making a sound composition liked by the world, from the cacophony of other sounds to an artful resonance to welcome a new dawn. I know these diverse sounds will evolve when I wade through millions of audio waves. At times, this sound is originated from a far less interesting and ordinary places and may not be pleasing when you hear it for the first time. But I know such resonance will have an omnipresence written by fate within. As a soundman I can say that those resonances, however insignificant, will eventually pour into the hearts of the millions. The persona of Narendra Damodardas Modi is like that – a sound that is embraced, though neglected and rejected by many, is falling to the ears of the millions of Indians as predestined by fate.
The sound of Modi is proved to be a motivating mantra for many and message of inspiration in the hearts of the millions of people of India along with those around the world. I would like to call this, a motivational and encouraging pursuit for the lower middle-class Indians. A message to grow beyond the boundaries of the past existence, a message of life for all whose dreams are shackled and a bright signal from the lower depths that reaches the skies, to reveal the roads less travelled by many.
In the ancient tradition of India, there is a concept which can be valorized as sublime, that sounds could be seen. Here the sounds transcends hearkening to go beyond the cognitive praxis of our ordinary senses. Our sages (Rishis) were known to have seen the sounds of mantras in their transcending senses. They had revelations of cosmic sounds or mantras as inner vision. The auspicious ‘kalyana nadams’ were seen by them. A sound, which is visible is a sound that has reached supreme and sublime state of its being. Just like this may the supreme consciousness pour the boon upon the sound of Modi to be visible in the minds of our people as a unifying factor of diverse, cultural and multitude of ethnic sounds of India to be tuned into one – eka sruti. On his 70th birthday I pray this ‘eka sruti’ be like the ‘kalyana nadams’ and be seen by the people of India. May this sound be the sound of oneness.