Oscar-Awardee Indian Film Sound Designer
Resul Pookutty, Asia’s most feted sound technician has etched his name in the annals of cinema history in a very short span of time. Pookutty truly a ‘Director of Sound’ is the leading proponent of sync sound recording in India. His work as a sound designer, production mixer, sound effects, foley editor and post-production re-recording mixer, has brought Indian cinema sound to a new level and international acclaim. Passionate about sound, he is the master of a multitude of techniques and equipment’s. Blending technology with strong Indian aesthetics, he has brought film sound as a craft and art to the forefront.
Born on May 30, 1971 at Vilakkupara in Kollam District of Kerala, Pookutty received his Bachelor of Physics degree from University of Kerala in 1990. Later he studied Law at the Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram, and went on to major in Sound Recording & Sound Engineering with a Post Graduate Diploma in Cinema at the prestigious Film And Television Institute Of India (FTII), Pune, in 1995.
Pookutty has recorded, edited, engineered and designed more than 90 films in a short span of his illustrious career, and won national and international recognition for his work. His vast experience in Film Sound and its Design, now lends itself to his Sound Post facility, “Canaries Post Sound” in Mumbai that designs sound for national and international projects. Pookutty is a visiting faculty at various film schools in India and abroad. Apart from feature films, he has recorded sound for various documentaries for BBC, Channel-4, Norwegian Television, and various other independent projects and short films from America and Europe. He has recorded and released the first and
only Library of Indian Sound Effects called “The Essential Indian Sound Effects”, one of the finest works to preserve sound in Indian cinema. He has also done elaborate digital restoration and re-mastering of over ninety years old original tube recordings from the Palace Of Udaipur, now in a series called “Heritage Recordings Of Mewar Court”. His pioneering effort of using Sound as a work of art in India- “Song For An Ancient Land” has been exhibited in art galleries of Mumbai and Bengaluru. Pookutty is also an innovator, developing new technology and products that aims to make technological innovations reach common man at affordable price. Pookutty is the recipient of numerous awards and honours for his contribution to cinema. His work in the film “Slumdog Millionaire” won him the prestigious- Academy Award® of Merit, more popularly known as Oscars, given in recognition of the highest level of achievement in moviemaking. He also won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts-BAFTA and the Cinema Audio Society (CAS) award for outstanding achievements in the field of Cinema for the same movie, making him the first and only Asian to win all these laurels. More
recently, Pookutty is nominated as the Best Sound Designer at the prestigious 62nd Golden Reel Award at MPSE in Los Angeles for the film “Roar-Tigers of Sunderbans”. He earned a twin nomination at MPSE again in 2015 for his work in the film “Unfreedom” and “India’s Daughter”, a rare feat in the world cinema and won the 63rd Golden Reel Award for his work in the film “India’s Daughter” which makes him the first Asian to win this recognition. And now he is a member of the Executive committee of Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (Oscar Committee), Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild (MPSE) and CAS (Cinema Audio Society) of America. Recently Mr. Pookutty is been awarded the title Distinguished Engineer by Rocheston, New York. (Distinguished Engineer is an honour awarded to Engineers of repute, selected from across the world in recognition of caliber, technical excellence and accomplishments that are an inspiration to people. Subsequent to which the recipient carries the title “Distinguished Engineer” against their name). Now selected as the member of Loka Kerala Sabha to serve the Govt Of Kerala. Following his win in 2009 at the Oscars, he has been conferred ‘Padma Shri’ (The Fourth Highest Civilian Award), by the Government of India for his distinguished service in his field. He has been accorded Honorary Doctorate by the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady- Kerala. His work in Malayalam movie “Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja” won him the ‘National Award’ for best Sound Design from the President of India.
His recent work in Marathi film “A Rainy Day” won him the Maharashtra State Award for best Sound Design from the Government Of Maharashtra and Goa State Award by the Government of Goa. Government of India has nominated him as the Society Member (the highest education body chaired by the President of India) in of one of its major film schools SRFTII, Calcutta (Sathyajit Ray Film & Television Institute Of India) and a member of CFSI (Children’s Film Society Of India). He was awarded the “News Maker of the Year” by Manorama News Channel and India Today weekly’s “News Maker” in the regional context for 2009.He holds the Limca Book Of Records for the First Asian to be winning an Oscar in the technical category. He is in the advisory board of IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) and GIMA (Global Indian Music Awards) aimed at promoting Indian Cinema and Music to the growing global audience outside India.
He has also won The Zee Cine Award for the Best Sound Designer for the film “Musafir” in 2004. His work in the film “Black” set a new benchmark in Indian feature film sound. It won the Screen Award, The Producers Guild Award and The Zee Cine Award for best Sound Recording & Sound Design in the year 2005 and merited laudatory praise in the American Cinematographer magazine. His work in the film “Ghajini” won him the IIFA (Indian International Film Academy) Award in Macau in 2009. “Blue” with its finest underwater sound treatment, won him the Producers Guild Award in 2010. His foray into Malayalam Cinema, “Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja”, created a sensation among the audience and won him the AMMA (Annual Malayalam Movie Award) award twice for Best Sound, held in Dubai. Pookutty was awarded the Mathrubhoomi-Amrita Television’s “Prince Of Sound” Award and a special contribution to Indian Cinema, honour from Asianet Television, besides a host of other honours and awards across the world. His work in the film “Ra.One” won him the The Zee Cine Award, Producers Guild Award and the prestigious IIFA Award in Singapore for best Sound Design in 2012.He also has won the Zee Gaurav, Mumbai Doordarshan Sahyadri Award, Jagran Film Festival Award and twice Prabhat Puraskar as the best Sound Designer for the film “A Rainy Day” and “Nagrik”.
His recent work as a Producer and Sound Designer in the film “ID” has won him a selection in the prestigious ‘India Panorama’ at the International Film Festival Of India, it is adjudged as the ‘Best Asian Film’ in the International Film Festival Of Kerala and won ‘Audience Award’ in Torino International Film Festival and seven other international awards in Festivals including Black Horse Award in Poland. His latest film as a Co-Producer and Sound Designer “Nanak Shah Fakir” a biopic on the life of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism has won three National Award and earned another Indian Panorama Selection at International Film Festival Of India at Goa in 2015, and is awaiting world wide release. The humanitarian side of Pookutty was visible during the Bhuj Earthquake of 2001, when he used sound sensors to aid rescue operations saving the lives of seven earthquake victims. His philanthropic organization ‘Resul Pookutty Foundation’ caters to serve the needy, primarily in education and healthcare across India. He served as one of the Trustees of the biggest Cancer Foundation in India, “Prashanti Cancer Care, Pune” giving free cancer treatment to thousands of people every year.
Pookutty has authored two books in his short but illustrious career as a Sound Designer, Writer, Producer, and Philanthropist. “Sounding Off” published by Penguin is his autobiographical sketch of a boy who came from rural anonymity to international acclaim, originally written in his native language Malayalam called “Shabda Tharapadham’ (Sound Of The Milky Way) It won the best book of the year award by Bala Sahithya Academy in the year 2010.”Ente Kathoppukal”(My Ear Signatures) is an anthology of his talks and interviews describing sound as a craft and art form and how he has taken an otherwise unknown art to public and intellectual domain. He
Co-authored another book with famous underwater cinematographer from London; Franz Pagot called “Immersive-3D” describing the technique and technology behind three dimensional picture and sound. A natural orator, his speech at the IIMK (Indian Institute Of Management, Kozhikode) is compared to Steve Job’s speech at Stanford. His short speech at the Oscars in 2009 is still considered to be the best speech at the Oscars, where he touched upon the sound of “Om” as the ethos he came from. His speech has raised the conscience of the people of India during the Oscars in 2009, in Kerala, his home state, people consider him as the second Vivekananda
(Swami Vivekananda, the great religious saint who made the famous speech at Chicago in 1893). In his famous acceptance speech at the Golden Globe in 2009, Danny Boyle described him as the touching stone during the making of Slumdog Millionaire.