Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Resul Pookutty: sound designer as celebrity


By Shevlin Sebastian

Photo: Resul Pookutty (right) with Chief Priest R K Nampoothiri of the Chakkulathukavu Sree Bhagavathy Temple

When I meet Resul Pookutty at the lobby of The Raj Residency, Kochi, recently, he is on his way for an interview with a television channel. “My schedule is packed,” he says. “But if you could come with me in the car in the afternoon to a function near Tiruvalla, we can talk.” I immediately balk at the idea of taking this long trip, but later I call his manager, Byju, and say yes.

We leave Ernakulam at 4 p.m. In the Toyota Innova, apart from Resul, there are a few friends. There is a Tata Indica following us. In it are two beefy security guards that Resul has brought from Mumbai: S.K. Thakur, 40, and Sandeep Jadhav, 28, from the Ace Security Agency.

Soon Resul starts talking about his life. “Can you imagine a boy who studied in a Malayalam medium village school in Kerala landing up at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles and giving an Academy Award acceptance speech in English?” he says. “NBC TV described it as the most eloquent of the evening!”

We are headed for the Chakkulathukavu Sree Bhagavathy Temple, where Resul is being conferred with the Chakkulathamma Swaravarsha Puraskaram for 2009. Somewhere, after Alleppey, there is a police escort.

There is a huge crowd waiting at the temple. Thakur and Jadhav and a team of policemen form a cordon, as Resul is led to the stage. There is sustained applause. Numerous pictures are taken on mobile cameras. Men and women jostle around.

A 15-year old girl, standing near the stage, has a smile of such dazzling innocence that I am struck numb. Despite the tumult, Resul spots the same quality. In her autograph book, he writes, ‘Dear Chippi, you have a most beautiful smile.’

The award is presented, and felicitation speeches begin. Resul chats with Chief Priest R K Nampoothiri. Then he lights the base of a tower-like structure, which bursts into fire. Following that Resul is led to a house, where he is introduced to the members of Nampoothiri’s family. Photographs are taken. A glass of tea is given to him.

As I write notes in a diary a woman rushes up to me. “Please give me a paper,” she says, looking desperate. I oblige, and she grabs my pen and rushes to Resul. As he signs, I shout, “Hey Resul that is my pen and paper.”

He laughs aloud. He is clearly enjoying the rush of adrenalin that you feel when you are at the centre of so much adulation. It is, indeed, a first for Indian cinema: a sound designer as celebrity. When Resul steps outside, the Edathua Sub Inspector K.I. Shamsudeen and his team take a photograph with him. Then Resul is off, to meet a relative who lives near Haripad.

When Resul enters the house, there is a buzz of excitement. He goes into a bedroom and holds the hands of his aunt and speaks gently to her. But she shows no sign of recognition of a man who is now famous all over India. You cannot blame her. Sadly and unfortunately, she is suffering from Alzhemeir’s Disease.

At 11.30 p.m., on our way back to Kochi, we stop to have dinner at a thattukada on National Highway 47.

“Can you imagine this?” says his friend. “An Oscar Award winner eating at a roadside shack!”

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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