Haven't read Kalki's Tamil classic Ponniyin Selvan? Never mind, you can listen to it now, thanks to five young sound effects experts, says K. R. Manigandan

Have you ever wanted to read Tamil classics such as Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan but have not been able to do so either for want of time or because you do not know how to read Tamil? Well, there's good news for you. A group of youngsters specialising in sound effects is planning to make an audio movie in Tamil for the first time.

Bharath, a sound designer by profession, along with his team — Vivek (sound designer), Prathap (chief sound effects engineer), Balaji and Raj Mohan (Foley Walker) — is working on making Ponniyin Selvan into an audio movie. He says, “When the audio versions of the Dan Brown and Harry Potter series were launched to cater to kids, they were a big hit. We thought why not do the same with Tamil classics? Our aim is to take them to the youngsters of today.”

Adds Bharath, who loves Tamil literature, “We have already finished making chapter 19 of Volume I of the classic. It is called ‘Rana Gala Aaranyam'. We are in talks with a company for taking our audio movie to the masses. If we get the funds, we should be able to complete the project in 10 months. The movie can be stored on digital devices so people can listen to them at leisure.”

Bharath and his team are equally passionate about sound and have been responsible for the fine sound effects of several hit films such as “Vaaranam Aayiram”, “Pudupettai”, “Pachaikili Muthucharam”, “Aayirathil Oruvan”, “Yuddham Sei”, “Aadukalam”, “Vaagai Sooda Vaa” and “Payanam”.

Says Bharath: “We have a database of six and a half crore sounds. Most of them have been collected or created, while some have been bought. We have classified these sounds which are used to enhance a film's impact. Any sound you hear in the film — from the chugging of a train to the rustling of dry leaves — is taken care of by us. We have been very choosy about the projects we have done.” They might not have done too many in the last eight years, but their work has not gone unnoticed.

Ask Bharath how the journey in sound began, and he says, “I have always wanted to be a director and still want to be one. Meanwhile, I chose to specialise in sound. Our effort is to raise the quality of audio in films. However, there are not many institutes offering specialised courses in sound effects. We don't have manpower and most of what we have learnt is out of passion.”

Prathap agrees. “The lack of specialised courses has prompted me to write a book on sound effects to help others who may be interested,” he says. The team is also planning to set up an institute.