DUBAI // Indians around the world celebrated when Resul Pookutty won a coveted Oscar in March for his sound mixing work on the film Slumdog Millionaire. Tomorrow night, Mr Pookutty will be honoured as the chief guest at the Asian Television Awards in the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. "Any recognition that a community gives to an artist is because of its own magnanimity," he said during a press conference in Dubai yesterday. "To be recognised for something like this by the expatriate community is a great honour. What my country has given me is unexplainable."
He said winning the technical Academy Award was a "dream come true", but added that it represented much more than individual recognition. "I loved the fact that the nomination was up against The Dark Knight because just to be nominated showed how huge the competition is," he said. "That showed the world that we were the top five. After the win, it left an inedible impression in the minds of people that I came from a country which had never achieved anything like this before."
Mr Pookutty, a passionate advocate for his craft, wants cinema audiences to appreciate the sound and technical quality of a film rather than "the price of popcorn and the plushness of the carpet". He also plans to open a design school in India that will teach students the various technical aspects of filmmaking, believing that like the Indian IT sector, there is a great opportunity in harnessing talent that can be "outsourced" at one-tenth the cost.
"I don't want to stop at the Oscars," he said. "I want to give something back to the next generation... We must train them rigorously". Although Slumdog Millionaire swept the Oscars this year, Mr Pookutty and the music director AR Rahman were the only two Indians who won awards. Mr Rahman won for best song and best soundtrack. The team was led by Danny Boyle, a British director, who told the story of a boy who rises from rags to riches through a television game show.
Mr Pookutty was a fan of Mr Boyle's films during his college days, when he had a poster of Trainspotting in his room. Fifteen years later, after he received a call from Mr Boyle's office asking him to join the Slumdog team, Mr Pookutty put the phone down, took a deep breath and "jumped in". He has signed on to several international projects, including a number of Hollywood films. By August, once he has wrapped up his commitments in Bollywood, he will travel between India and the US to work on a Disney production entitled 19 Steps.
"I want to work like that because my work in India has taken me there. I do not intend to live elsewhere except to work elsewhere. The function is India will then be able to pass over to my own people the knowledge I gather." In the meantime, he plans to stick to what he knows best - sound editing and mixing. "I'd be a fool to make a shift in direction in my career now. Let's stick with what I know best."