Kaamod is a graduate in Audiography from FTII batch of 2002-2005.
As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
As a child I didn’t watch many films! Infact I used to not like going to the theatres. I think something about being in the dark and cold being confined in the seat made me sick. I remember having headaches during watching the film. Hence I avoided theatres. However I did watch some films. The first film that they showed us officially in the school was about Mahatma Gandhi and Chatrapati Shivaji maharaj. That was my introduction to movie theatres.
My mother kind of restricted me from watching cinema. She probably didn’t want me to get exposed to indian movies that early in my life. However sometimes she and my father used to watch some films and then used to take me along when I was a toddler.. I remember once they took me to watch ‘Sant Tukaram’ and I cried my heart out because I wanted to leave the theatre. And we had to leave the film mid way. My aunt who also was with us was most annoyed because we had to leave midway. As o grew older Later in life I remember watching Mandi House, Pather Panchali because my father wanted to watch them… I didn’t understand a thing of those films,that time.. But I have memories of watching it.
Later when I was going to higher secondary school.. I watched some hindi films in the theatre.
During this time the TV had arrived at home and so did the cable network. My favourite was the English news channels and also MTV and Vchannel. I also started watching star movies and HBO. That’s when the real international films came to me. I used to watch films at home on TV. I still didn’t go to the theatre much.
I used to listen to a lot of music though.. while I played guitar.
How did you first become interested in audiography? most people don’t know about this field of cinema?
Becoming interested in audiography was a slow process with me. I was almost unaware that some job like a sound design or audiography existed. I used to play and compose music and the sound design I knew. Music came naturally to me because of my mom. She is a graduate in Hindustani classical music. Knowingly or unknowingly I got attached to music and it’s various shades. I was enthralled by The form of music. Gradually I got connected with a theatre group in Ahmednagar. And I used to compose background music for those plays. Mainly marathi plays.
Doing theatre was a very serious business for us although we were not professionals. We used to appear for state level drama competitions held in pune. Slowly I also started doing the sound design of the plays with music. Creating atmosphere and simulation of reality was my favourite..all this I used to record on my desktop and used to write it on a CD format abd then play it along the ‘play’ in theatres triggered by the cues. Slowly I became expert in that. Besides I also composed songs and jingles for small ads on radio and tv. So all this knack of sound design and how it can create a mood and keep the audiences engaged in a scene, I learnt during early theatre days. So overall the audiography or sound design came to me gradually.
What steps did you take to train yourself?
I am follower of Meher baba my spiritual guru. He enlightened my path very slowly and organically. At the meher baba ashram I used to go learn guitar from his disciple Mr Ward parks. He gave me early lessons in western harmonic music and chord progressions. It was here I also used to compose and sound design the English plays directed by Alan Wagner and his international crew. People from all over the world used gather here every year in the month of February. With this I also used to mix and do the stage management for the live musical programs held at the huge pandal at the samadhi of meher baba. This concert is held for three days every year since many years now. I have been a part of this since 25 years. In the early days I met John Meyer here. He used to come for this concert all the way form the USA and he donated his precision speakers and speaker management system for this huge concerts where more then 15000 spectators used to come. While working with john I learnt many professional skills and etiquette. Seeing my thirst for learning new things in audio and my skills in the music and recording and mixing live without any formal knowledge of it he suggested that I should learn this skill in depth.
It was him who showed me the way and helped me understand my potential. I didn’t take steps to learn sound intentionally, It just came to me in various parts of my early life and I just picked up from there as much as I could.
Manish one of my very close friends and an actor who filled my entrance form for film institute because he strongly believed that the potential that I had in me can be honed and polished in this institution. Thus I went to study at FTII. After being a post graduate engineer in civil engineering.
After going to FTII and studying there I learnt a lot about music and sound and film and storytelling.
Have you assisted anyone? How does it help one?
I didn’t assist anyone except John Meyer before learning sound formally. But after studying at FTII I realised the importance of sound and music for films. Mr. Resul Pookutty is my senior and a very successful sound designer of our country. I met him a couple of times and he asked me to do some recording for him. He didn’t take me to his film shoots, but asked me to work on his other films where couldn’t go because of his busy schedule. I worked on three feature films for him on the location as a sound recording engineer. After recording the whole film I used deliver the film sound to him and move on. I would do a little bit of work with him in the audio post but not as much. After watching my work on these locations Shajith koyeri and PM Satheesh suggested my name to a producer director and that’s how I got my first independent project called Dasvidanya. this film gave a great push as a sound recording engineer and my work was appreciated and celebrated. Thus the previous work used to fetch new work for me as the ‘word of mouth’ spread. that’s how the chain of work has been. Till Feb 2020 I had had worked on more than 44 feature films and number of short films and commercials since the day I came to Mumbai for work in 2005.
How did your first film project come about? Tell us something about the experience.
As an ftiian we always looked upto our seniors and also didn’t hesitate to ask them for work. After graduating from film school I came to Mumbai and used to meet many senior sound engineers and directors. One day I was sitting at Rajat Kapoor’s office at Willingdon colony in Santacruz. Mumbai. A film maker who was preparing for his new project with Rajat met me there and started talking to me about his upcoming project. When he knew that I was willing to work as sound engineer and that I was looking for work he made an offer and asked me to come for recording on his film. This film was Sagar Bellary’s Bheja fry which was my first ever feature film project. Later We used to gather at Rajat’s office for work in between the work schedules for bheja fry. This is where I also met Mr Resul Pookuty who later on asked me if I was free and willing to work on his other projects, after finishing ‘Bheja fry’. I said yes.
I worked for three projects for Resul on location. Which I mentioned earlier. It’s important to work
Under a supervision of a senior in the beginning because there are times when you need some guidance and mentoring and you always need someone to look over your work. Fortunately We have some very good and talented people working here who are great guides and teachers whom we meet on daily basis.
How do you decide on the sound design of a film, apart from what comes naturally from the script? What are your inspirations?
Music inspires me. A streamline flow inspires me. Continuous unending stream inspires me. I get dreams of that. I get dreams of a form. A form that’s huge a form that is sometimes not describable in words inspire me. Sometimes The chaos around us teaches us how to listen.
I like the musicality of any script. There may not be the actual music on the screen but the storey has a musicality. It’s flow needs to curbed. The flow of each script needs to be understood by me in order to work on it. It can be a tough process but it comes to you if you spend enough time with the script and the edit.
Is Sound Design intuitive or is it something you learn?
I think it’s both. It is intuitive for some but it also can be learnt a little over time.
What is your genre? (What genre do you enjoy most).
I enjoy thrillers, drama, and action. Evoking Emotional journeys through sound is my favourite. Sound can trigger emotions of all kinds. It’s very subtle but it works always and I love that hence I want to keep experimenting with it.
What part does risk-taking play in your work, if any?
In today’s world going out of the house is a risk. However on Many but not all occasions on location of the film shoots we have to work in difficult situations and that puts you in a risk. I remember for one of the films I had rigged myself on a moving Jeep from outside with the recorder. I had harnesses but still it was risky. On another location in the UK In the train yard the voltage in thr overhead wires was so high in thousands of volts that we were Warned to not to walk straight but but duck down whole
Walking in the yard because was a possibility that the the electric current could pounce on you. This was a major risk. However we all did with all the due precautions.
Film technology is continuously changing. Do you think it affects you as an audiographer, in the way you want to tell stories.
I think although the technology is changing faster than we can imagine the way stories are heard or seen doesn’t change. The way we perceive and assimilate audio visuals doesn’t change. It remains the same because of human anatomy and understanding. So for me using various kinds of different advancements in techniques to achieve the desired/right effect which supports the story that we are trying to tell, is of utmost importance. Changing technology only affects me in one way, it pushes me to learn new things everyday. And I am open to it.
Your favorite films or audiographers? At least two of them?
There are many naming two of them is a very difficult task but I like the hurt locker, the English patient, inside lewin Davis, two popes. Space odyssey. This list is endless
Any hurdles you have encountered in your journey. Things that are blocks in a achieving your vision while making your film.
There are many hurdles on location as well as in the post. It’s funny and ironic that people who are involved only can become a hurdle. but to overcome These hurdles and blockades is what I love the most. Some times I succeed some times I don’t but in both cases what remains is the lesson in memory.
Do you often get all that is in your wish list or is it a hard bargain every time?
Making film and/or sound design and recording has always been a hard bargain. Like they say ‘Kabhi kisi ko muqammal jahan nahi milta.. .. ‘ That’s very true. But at the same time being successful in delivering what needs to be done is what is important. Earlier I had to struggle considerably for my requirements but now a days not as much. When you deliver right and your intentions are right people sense it and listen to your demands. However struggle doesn’t end completely. It’s constant at various stages.
What is in the kitty now?
Work in progress on ‘Anek’ and ‘Sharmaji Namkeen’ and shortly post production on ‘Masaba Masaba’ and ‘Gulkanda Tales’ will start.
Any advice to the inspiring audiographers?
I am learning myself but all I can say right now is if you love what you do and be persistent at it work will show persistence as well and come to you. Every time you have to give work the new you !! So keep loving and keep experimenting.
Any memorable blunders?
Location back up hard drive went missing from my assistants home. He came back empty handed on the next day. Saying he didn’t remember what happened but he didn’t have the data drive.. my heart sank.
Another big one : after three hour prep in kolkata for a big film and a long take where many houses were to be brought down and there was fire and ambush, after rehearsing for three hours at the time of the actual take the camera which was on the Jimmy Jib never rolled. Only the sound rolled 😉
No one knows that we actually used the second take in the film. And adjusted the sound of the first take. Only two of us knwo this as yet !!
And the third one .. two stars on a jetski in the city canals of Birmingham fell in water with very expensive body mics. The jetski toppled over. Thankfully the actors were fine and safe because the rescue team saved them but the mics inspite of being covered with plastic were drenched.
Your dream project?
Working here is a dream come true. I love each and every project as if it was my dream come true.