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Of aural associations

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Resul Pookutty brings forth the sounds and images ingrained in his memory in an autobiography.
Resul Pookutty brings forth the sounds and images ingrained in his memory in an autobiography.

How do memories remain imprinted in one's consciousness? Put that question to the Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty and pat comes the answer: “In sound and images.” Don't take his word for it; go ahead and “hear” Mr. Pookutty “speak” his memories in his autobiography, Sabdatharapadhom.

On the final lap of his book-reading ride across three cities in Kerala, Mr. Pookutty told a select audience at Taj Residency that for him, memories were all about words spoken and things seen as a child and as a grown-up person.

“Our memories are all about the sounds we have heard and the images that we have seen,” said Mr. Pookutty, when the auditory nature of his narration was brought to his attention.

Sabdatharapadhom, which, his co-narrator Baiju Devarajan says, can be split either way to mean “the path of the star of sounds” or “the universe of sound,” is a unique experiment in autobiographical writing where the author breaks the filters of time, space, experience and celebrity to return to the days he lived as a little child in a large Muslim family in a Kerala village and his journey to the top of the film world, a sense of wonderment yielding place to confidence.

Listening to Mr. Pookutty as he read out the first chapter of the book was author-turned-MP Shashi Tharoor, who was all praise for the quality of the personal narrative, but also reminded him that it was still a work in progress as Mr. Pookutty himself is travelling through new vistas of experience and learning.

Brought out by Malayala Manorama and Penguin, Sabdatharapadhom was created out of seven lengthy interview sessions and extensive editing to compress a narrative spread over 1,000 pages into 400 pages, said Dilip Raj, Penguin editor, who hosted the event.

Isn't Sabdatharapadhom a misnomer of sorts, Pookutty was asked.

Instead of a direct reply, he said, “My elder brother had this box in his room which he considered very precious and there was this big book that almost filled it. Its title was Sabdatharavali. When I mentioned this to Baiju, he said why not give the title Sabdatharapadhom? And there you have it.”

C. Gouridasan Nair

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