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This month we are highlighting sound in motion pictures, and particularly the wizard of sound that will be responsible for bringing the myriad of both simple and complex sounds to life in Shiromuku: The Wedding Dress to be released in 2014. Sound is an important and integral layer to any ﬁlm. Good sound can pull the viewer deeper into the ﬁlm and impart emotion or a message with more impact at times than the visual elements. Combine the two together, and great ﬁlms are made.
The sounds in Shiromuku will range from the silent movement of insects, dripping water on the night patrols in the jungle, to the deafening sounds of the largest battle in Asia, The Battle of Imphal, to the subtle conversation between two lovers. Harikumar comes from Kolkota India and brings with him a lengthy list of experience on ﬁlms for Indian and International Cinema and a passion for ﬁlms and sound engineering that reﬂects itself in the work he does. SHIROMUKU: Q. What made you get into the ﬁlm industry, and speciﬁcally the sound technician portion? HARIKUMAR: A. I came into the Film Industry by chance, right after my college, I applied to the FTII, Pune, the prestigious ﬁlm school in India and chose Sound Recording as my major,specializing in Cinema and am happy about it. My main interest while in college days were watching documentaries,travel shows and feature ﬁlms,which laid the foundation for applying for Film Course and majoring in Sound Recording. From my early days I had been a big fan of Wildlife/environmental/human documentaries, mostly B/W 16mm ones of BBC and lots of Hollywood ﬁlms- action, thrillers, comedy etc. I was also inﬂuenced by ﬁlm artists such as (Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu) , Indian (Ray, Ghatak, Aravindan, Adoor, Shyam Benegal) and European (Fellini, Antonioni) masters whose ﬁlms I used to watch while in school and college. I had the great opportunity to know and work with well known Malayalam Film maker G Aravindan on his project Vaasthuhara. An outstanding ﬁlm of my school days was Derzu Uzala- Akira Kurosawa,a visually brilliant work par excellence,shot across China-Russia border I still love watching it.
I was actively involved in Film Society screenings and attending retrospectives and festivals since school days and wanted to learn and get involved in the art of ﬁlmmaking if given a chance visits to the library to read books on ﬁlms and great ﬁlmmakers was also an important pastime SHIROMUKU: Q. What is the most challenging part of your job? HARIKUMAR: A. There are 2 aspects to this challenge Technical and Creative. The technical part involves getting good quality sound while on location and in studio and the creative part is to live up to the story and directors expectation and bringing it one notch up from the script with emphasis on sound,widening the scope of the ﬁlm beyond script and visuals, always with the ﬁlm concept in mind keeping both these aspects in mind in tandem is the challenging part but beyond these one very important challenge is to deliver good quality under stress in time,we are always pressed for time when the work is in full swing. A bad work plan or no plan can be a challenge too. SHIROMUKU: Q. What was the most memorable memory on a set for you? HARIKUMAR: A. Well there are many,one of the most memorable one was while shooting on PEEPLI LIVE,Our producer Mr Aamir Khan( popular actor as well)
dropped in on the set on a surprise visit, had a chat with us, asked him about the edit and he appeared satisﬁed and complimented that the sound was excellent and also hoped that the ﬁnal sound out be outstanding. Coming from someone with a high creative quotient and technical awareness it was a memorable compliment.
SHIROMUKU: Q. Many ﬁlms have different "textures" of sound. Is this a decision from the director, or is it something determined in the ﬁlm process? If this is from the ﬁlm process, does it come from ﬁlming or post production limitations? HARIKUMAR: A. Every ﬁlm has a different texture due to script requirement,it is the POV of the director and also part of the ﬁlm making process,where in we contribute as Sound Designers to bring it to another level keeping the script and directors vision in mind. It is not actually a limitation as such rather an evolution of the texture as it undergoes various stages starting with script,pre- production,production and post to ﬁnal mix when the whole structure takes shape by the addition of all elements of sound track with due respect to script and directors vision. Each of the stages are important and are interconnected and any lapse in any stage would result in result in harming the ﬁlm.
SHIROMUKU: Q. What are the hardest sounds/situations to record in? HARIKUMAR: A. The hardest/difﬁcult sounds to record are whispers and loud bangs/crash/explosions and wild life sounds. The most difﬁcult situations to record are noisy locations,eg- trafﬁc,forest with loud insect sound(cicadas),ports, stadiums,railway stations, airport(Wireless issues) similarly in studios with bad acoustics. SHIROMUKU: Q. What is your favorite movie due to technical appreciation for sound? HARIKUMAR: A. Again there are many, amongst the recent ones Les Miserables-Tom Hooper SHIROMUKU: Q. What are some of your plans for innovative sound production on Shiromuku: The Wedding Dress? HARIKUMAR: A. I have a few ideas for the ﬁlm,primarily in getting the dialogues clean to avoid ADR, using authentic sounds of the ﬁrearms of the WW2 era,chants/shouts/songs,using foley to create the right mood/feel,using the amb to take the audience very close to the reality of a war ﬁlm,use silence where necessary. Keeping in mind the creative concept, authenticity and audience expectation Shiromuku is a very authentic and realistic ﬁlm from a recent past and creating reality out of nothing is important and difﬁcult using creative bgm where necessary to bring authenticity, then getting a right mix of everything- dialogue, music, ambience, silence, bgm like the Shiromuku, the sound also needs to be cleanliness, pristine, pure and a visual treat!
SHIROMUKU: Q. Shiromuku: The Wedding Dress being ﬁlmed in Thailand this fall, has an international cast and crew, you've worked in Thailand before, can you tell us your opinions on ﬁlming in that country? HARIKUMAR: A. Thailand has been a much in demand ﬁlm destination for international ﬁlms since a long time. I had the good fortune to work in Thailand esp Bangkok, with a warm and friendly people and bustling nightlife and great street food and ideal travel and shooting locations-the local crew we got were great and all make a superb feel of the city. I have great memories of the place and hope to come again. In short what I liked shooting in Thailand was for many reasons but the main ones are the hard working experienced crews, excellent atmospheric locations across the country (especially for this ﬁlm), great infrastructure for both production and post production, and of course the friendly atmosphere. I look forward to a great shoot. SHIROMUKU: Q. Indian, Thai, and SE Asian ﬁlms are gaining in the international market and being noted for their technical achievements, where do you see the future of Indian contributions to this in the next 10 years? HARIKUMAR: Q. Indian cinema has contributed in an outstanding way in Asian and world cinema creatively and technically. In the next ten years Indian Cinema will be showcasing talented directors with new themes backed by technical brilliance and win laurels in world arena. The Aural spectrum can do wonders beyond what most people can imagine and each ﬁlm has been upping the bar and Shiromuku will certainly surprise in taking the audience to the edge of the seat experience with Shiromuku!
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