Resul Pookutty, who won the Oscar last year for sound mixing for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, on Friday admitted that as a film student, he secretly nursed a desire to be the first Indian to win an Oscar. He felt “jealous” when filmmaker Satyajit Ray snatched away the imagined glory from him in 1992 when he was awarded an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement.
Mr. Pookutty was speaking to journalists after inaugurating a film poster exhibition, which traced the history of sound and music in Indian cinema, organised as part of the eighth Pune International Film Festival (PIFF).
Mr. Pookutty said: “The most rewarding moment in my life was not winning the Oscar. It came yesterday [Thursday] evening when I shared the stage with the greats of Hindi films Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna [during the inauguration ceremony of the PIFF].”
Mr. Pookutty said that he often wondered why ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was given an Oscar for sound mixing when all the films it competed against had a minimum budget of 10 million dollars for sound alone and, which had worked on sound for two to three years.
“I think the award was given not so much for the technology or the execution as for the idea,” he surmised. He said that he spent a lot of time “recording Mumbai’s sound spectrum, within which the film evolved. You could smell Mumbai through its sound.”
He traced his Oscar journey back to the BAFTA [British Academy of Film and Television Arts] awards, where he got his first award for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. “I couldn’t sleep for three nights in a row,” he said.
“Being nominated for the Oscars was the height of ecstasy. Reliving his Oscar journey, he said, “Before the Oscar night, all nominees are given instructions about the award acceptance protocol. The winners have exactly 60 seconds within, which to get up from one’s seat, walk to the stage, take the award and make the acceptance speech. After the 60 seconds, the mike automatically starts going lower and lower and the usher starts signalling you to leave. If that happened to me, it would have embarrassed the entire country.”