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The 'Oscar Curse': 2009 awardee Resul Pookutty looks back at his struggles

Memories go back to the time, 14 years ago, in 2009, when Resul Pookutty came back with an Oscar for Sound Design in 'Slumdog Millionaire'.

On the eve of yet another Oscar Night, memories go back to the time about 14 years ago, in 2009, when Resul Pookutty came back with an Oscar for Sound Design in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Pookutty shared the award with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke. The then 37-year-old Pookutty was an unknown name in the country, but it was not to remain so after the Oscar.

But the highlight was when the then Left government led by V S Achuthanandan decided to give him a hero’s welcome and the person who was asked to head the welcoming committee was the then Culture Minister M A Baby, at present a CPI-M politburo member.

And on that day in 2009, his tiny village in Kollam district – Anchal – woke up to welcome their dearest son.

Soon Pookutty became the most popular personality in Kerala and stories of his childhood and how he studied under a kerosene lamp and his daily walk to the school about 10 kms all became news.

Also written was how a bus checker’s son, the youngest of eight children, the hardworking Pookutty was able to rise to the highest level.

Pookutty as is now known to all, after his graduation gave up his course in law, reached the Pune Film Institute, graduated with flying colours and began his film career.

His debut in sound design came with the 1997 film ‘Private Detective’ and then came, ‘Two Plus Two Plus One’, directed by Rajat Kapoor.

And it was in the 2005 film ‘Black’, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, that he firmly inked his name in the industry and since then he has gone from strength to strength.

Then came ‘Musafir’ (2004), ‘Zinda’ (2006), ‘Traffic Signal’ (2007), ‘Gandhi, My Father’ (2007), ‘Saawariya’ (2007), ‘Dus Kahaniyaan’ and ‘Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja’ (2009), and ‘Enthiran’ (2010).

In 2012, Pookutty was in the news when to honour his father’s wish, he completed his law course and enrolled as an advocate.

In between he was also heard saying that he had difficulty finding work in Bollywood after winning the Academy Award, but is glad that the Oscar Curse is over.

Pookutty’s statement came in the wake of Shekhar Kapur’s tweet to Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman, telling the musician that the Hindi film industry refused to give him work because he had won an Academy Award, which proved “you have more talent than Bollywood can handle”.

Opening up about his struggles, Pookutty tweeted to look back at the time when he was nearing a “breakdown”.

“Dear @shekharkapur, ask me about it, I had gone through near breakdown as nobody was giving me work in Hindi films and regional cinema held me tight after I won the Oscar… There were production houses who told me at my face “we don’t need you” but still I love my industry, for it,” he tweeted.

The sound engineer added that he could have moved to Hollywood but he did not.

“My work in India won me the Oscar. I got nominated six times for MPSE and won too… There will always be people to run you down but I have far more faith in my people than anybody else,” he shared.

Pookutty went on to describe his experience as a result of the ‘Oscar Curse’.

“And much later when I discussed this with my Academy members friends, they told me about Oscar Curse. It’s faced by everybody. I enjoyed going through that phase, when you are on top of the world and people reject you, it’s the biggest reality check,” he explained and added “Oscar curse is over, We moved on.”

Pookutty since he won the Oscar has worked in nine Malayalam films too.

He was decorated with the Padma Shri in 2010 and in the same year the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in the state gave him an honorary doctorate.

With the years passing by, Pookutty’s name now surfaces on the eve of every Oscar and this time too it has surfaced and will continue to do so.

–By Sanu George

Pic. Sourceresulpookutty
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