Once upon an Onam
Born and brought up in a small village in Kerala called Vilakkupara, sound designer Resul Pookutty celebrates Onam every year with the enthusiasm of a child. “When I was young, my brothers and I used to be in charge of the cattle. A week before Onam, we would go to the forest to cut and store the feed, so during the festivities, we wouldn’t need to do much,” says the Oscar winner.
“Onam means sumptuous food. One of the main attractions used to be Pulikali. In Malayalam, puli means leopard and kali means play. One person would dress up as a leopard and another as a hunter, and all the kids would play with them,” says Resul.
Karadikali (karadi means bear in Malayalam) is another element of the festival. Resul calls it the most important game. “After the Onam lunch, we used to sneak out of our homes, go to a garden, rip off dry leaves and wrap them around my brother’s body. After carving a mask out of betel leaves, we would then go to play at the houses in the neighbourhood,” he says.
In the last few years, the artiste hasn’t had a chance to celebrate Onam like he used to. But even though he doesn’t visit Kerala every year around this time, he makes sure his celebrations are authentic.“We cook the traditional food. Last year, I sent both my kids to Kerala. They need to know their culture; and the festivities are huge over there. A few years ago, when I took them to the palace in Trivandrum to show them the festivities, I was almost mobbed. My wife keeps telling me how she feels bad for me these days,” he says.
Does he feel that things changed drastically after Slumdog Millionaire (2010), the film which earned him the Academy Award? “I haven’t changed. But people’s perception of me has. More so, their perception towards my work has also changed and that feels great,” says Resul.