Craig and I had a blast mixing ‘Uttama Villain’: Kunal Rajan

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Chennai, March 4 (IANS) Sound designer Kunal Rajan says working with Oscar-winning sound mixer Craig Mann in Kamal Haasan’s Tamil musical drama “Uttama Villain” was fabulous. He says the two had a blast mixing the film, slated for release on April 2.

“Craig and I have worked together on a few Hollywood projects. When I was starting ‘Uttama Villain’, I asked him if he would be interested to mix an Indian film. He was so excited. He was telling me how he had just done a musical titled ‘Whiplash’, and was very excited to do another musical,” Kunal told IANS.

Craig, who pocketed an Oscar for his sound mix in “Whiplash”, was extremely collaborative and gave it his very best to make the movie sound the way it does, said Kunal, who had previously worked with Kamal in “Vishwaroopam”.

“In ‘Uttama Villain’, sound is going to be much more realistic, unlike ‘Vishwaroopam’, where everything was larger-than-life. Everything that’s shown on screen has to convey emotions. It’s a film with strong emotional content,” he said.

“Vishwaroopam” was an action spy-thriller set in present day, while portions of “Uttama Villain” will take audiences back to the eighth century.

He said it was challenging to reproduce the right sounds of a bygone era.

“There are a lot of period instruments such as swords and trumpets. It was challenging to capture these sounds. But thanks to a very good foley team that has worked on some big Hollywood projects, we pulled it off. We used different props to recreate the sound of several period instruments from the eighth century,” he said.

For great sound, Kunal believes the relationship between a sound designer and a film’s music composer should be strong.

Ramesh Aravind-directed “Uttama Villain” has music by Ghibran, who had also worked on “Vishwaroopam 2”.

“I’ve been extremely lucky enough to have Ghibran in ‘Uttama Villain’. Ghibran and I started talking about ‘Uttama Villain’ even before we even started working on it. When we knew we were going to work together, we started discussing about minute details,” he said.

“For instance, there’s a scene where Kamal waves to thousands of people in a mall. With so many people screaming, a scene like this also requires music and it has to go in tandem with the screaming. Both should be equally loud but shouldn’t overlap with each other.

“It’s very important to have these kinds of discussions with the music director because if he doesn’t know what I’m doing in sound, he’ll do his own thing in music. Finally, when they’re put together, they clash,” he added.

Kunal, who will be working with Kamal on his next project as well, said his knowledge of sound in Indian films and American style of sound mixing got him an opportunity to work with the actor.

“Even though I know how Indian films sound, my knowledge comes from an American style of sound mixing. When I do an Indian film, I can’t mix it like I mix an American film and at the same time I can’t mix it like I mix an Indian film either. What I try to bring to the table is a little bit of both American and Indian style of sound in mixing,” he said.

“If you go very subtle like American, it doesn’t work in India because sound quality in most Indian theatres is not that great. When you marry some aesthetics of the West with Indian aesthetics, I think it sounds beautiful because there are some things that are good in American way of mixing and some things that are good in Indian way,” said Kunal.

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