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HomeEntertainmentMoviesDoes Fahadh Faasil’s ‘Malayankunju’ mark a new chapter in Indian cinema with its...

Does Fahadh Faasil’s ‘Malayankunju’ mark a new chapter in Indian cinema with its brilliant sound design?

The film’s soundscape brings to thoughts Danny Boyle’s 2010 movie ‘127 Hours’, each by the way scored by A.R. Rahman

The film’s soundscape brings to thoughts Danny Boyle’s 2010 movie ‘127 Hours’, each by the way scored by A.R. Rahman

In the latest Fahadh Faasil-starrer Malayankunju, set in opposition to the calamitous landslides throughout Kerala in 2019, the total pressure of the pure catastrophe is felt like a violent jolt. We hear nothing for a few seconds earlier than and after Faasil’s home comes crashing down. Sound, each the presence and absence of it, performs one of many main roles in the Malayalam survival thriller directed by debutant Sajimon Prabhakar.

It is uncommon to seek out modern-day cinema the place sound isn’t just in the background, offering assist, however very firmly in the motive force’s seat, taking the plot ahead. Sound designer Vishnu Govind, who received this 12 months’s National Award for Audiography for his work in Malik, additionally headlined by Faasil final 12 months, says the sound of the rain was the build-up to the central occasion — the landslide — in Malayankunju. “I recorded all the sounds of the rain and thunder you hear in the film. I gave A.R. Rahman sir an audio file with all the effects I had used, and he shared the music with me,” says Govind. Incidentally, this movie marks Rahman’s return to Malayalam cinema as composer after 28 years.

As the viewers witnesses Faasil’s character, Anikuttan, combating in opposition to the weather to seek out his approach out of the particles, it brings to thoughts the nerve-racking ordeal confronted by James Franco’s character as he’s trapped in a rockslide in Danny Boyle’s 2010 movie 127 Hours, additionally scored by Rahman. The highly effective sonicscape created by the downpour in Malayankunju is similar to the sound in 127 Hours, of the rain beating over the purple earth of the Bluejohn Canyon in Utah and the gushing floodwater in the gruelling climax.

If in 127 Hours, award-winning sound engineer Glenn Freemantle and his workforce constructed a man-made canyon from a “tonne of rocks and stones” to duplicate the type of boulders inside which completely different sounds had been recorded, in Malayankunju, Govind offers us a sense of being trapped with Anikuttan by brilliantly crafting silences into the movie.

“The feeling of claustrophobia was created by these silences. No sound or the sound of silence enhances the viewer’s experience, especially when you want to feel the impact of something big,” he says. “I had just a few seconds to deliver the sound of the house crashing in the landslide.” Govind additionally combined the sound in the movie, utilizing Dolby Atmos, an immersive sound format.

Sound designers Vishnu Govind (left) and Sree Sankar on a recording project.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The conversations between the filmmakers and the sound crew are an integral a part of the filmmaking course of, says Govind. “We were in constant talks with Mahesh Narayanan (writer of Malayankunju) and director Sajimon for a year since the start of the film, about the kind of sound we wanted to use.” he says.

Compelling tales: Resul Pookutty

Academy award winner Resul Pookutty, who received an Oscar for his work in Boyle’s 2008 movie Slumdog Millionaire, writes about making an attempt to grasp the director’s requirement, in his 2012 autobiography Sounding Off: The Memoirs of an Oscar-winning Sound Designer: “I had to go beyond recording the cinema, and instead, first know how space functions in a particular scene and understand how the cinematic elements are going to perform in that space.” At all factors, Pookutty would ask Boyle what sort of sound he wished, he writes in the guide.

Resul Pookutty

Resul Pookutty

Pookutty commends the work being carried out by sound designers reminiscent of Govind in modern Malayalam movies. He believes that the 80s had been the golden interval for Malayalam cinema and raised the bar for sound design in the business.

“The right sound with the right memory stays with you. I still remember the sound of the ship creaking when (Prem) Nazir is introduced in the film Padayottam (1982). In Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Elippathayam, sound is used to portray a new dimension that is not part of the script,” he says, referring to the Malayalam movie launched in 1982, the place the protagonist, a feudal patriarch whose days of wealth are behind him, finds a stone in the rice as he has his meal. “What bigger statement than the sound of the stone hitting the teeth to show a Nair family in decline?” says Pookutty.

In the multiverse that’s the Indian movie business, with regional cinema stepping out of Bollywood’s shadow, Pookutty feels that among the most compelling tales are being informed by Malayalam movies.

Malayankunju, for example, follows the character arc of a protagonist struggling with his interior demons after his father takes his personal life. And the film makes use of dramatic horns, tense drum beats and haunting vocals led by the sound of a child crying to hold the viewers alongside because the story gathers tempo. “Rahman sir has added his magic in the parts that needed an emotional edge,” says Govind, who has labored with sound designer Sree Sankar on the movie.

Just like in 127 Hours, right here too, it’s the triumph of the human spirit and the common feeling of hope and compassion that resonates with audiences, making Malayankunju a movie for the instances.

The author is the previous editor of ‘Rolling Stone India’ and teaches journalism at FLAME University.

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