Between those silvery lakes and obsolete chimera, Amen shimmered with its sheer novelty. Travelling in an unprecedented magical-realism road, Lijo Jose Pellissery has woven a fantasy in celluloid with this objet d’art.
Not many might have noticed those pertinent and vivacious sounds that lent Amen a demure of its own. Amen, today has achieved a cult-status in the history of Malayalam cinema and 31-year-old Renganaath Ravee’s contribution to this film cannot be forgotten.
Amen is not Renganaath’s first outing in Mollywood as a sound designer, yet, this ingenious youngster is not yet a household name in Kerala. Despite sound designing becoming an essential part of film making, Malayalis have not warmed up to the idea of spending money on sound. Nonetheless, garnering numerous plaudits and accolades this youngster is proving his worth in the tinseltown.
“A feature film is an audio-visual medium but when the producers and directors are ready to do anything to make its visuals perfect, not many care about its sound. Sound in a movie is not just sound effects, it consists of music to background noise to mere silence and without the right sounds, how can one enjoy a movie?,” questions Renganaath in a refreshing candour.
A disciple of Oscar winner Rasool Pookkutty, Renganaath started his career as a sound engineer in 2006. Being an adept violinist, Renganaath formed a band with two of his friends in 2002. Though, the band did not take off as planned, Renganaath’s stint with music and sound continued. With a resolve to learn sound engineering from the best film institute in India, Renganath entered his name in the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. Albeit clearing the test three times, the interview board rejected him. Today he counts his not studying in FTII, a blessing.“The sound engineering course at FTII is mostly music-oriented. At the interview, I had a clash with the interviewees regarding this. Sound is not just music and I wanted to learn sync sounds, sound recording and anything and everything related to sound that is being used in feature films,” says Renganaath.
Soon, he realised that Kerala is not the best place to be if one intends to be in the movie business. Hence, he shifted his gear to Mumbai and kept in touch with the right people in the film field.
In Mumbai, he worked as a sound engineer for many years until he became an independent sound designer. Renganaath’s first film as an independent sound designer was Lijo Jose Pellisseri’s City of God, which he claims as his best work in Malayalam. Goutham Menon’s Nadunisi Naaygal, another songless action thriller in Tamil gave Renganaath plenty to experiment.
“Amen was a fantasy film. The time, place or characters do not specify where or what, but the sounds used did not carry any surprise elements. Everything was according to tune. On the other hand, City of God, Lijo’s directorial debut, had much to explore. I believe silence is another strong sound and by using silence at the right time one can create much impact,” says Renganaath.
Renganaath has been fortunate enough to work in every path breaking movie made in Malayalam such as Nayakan, Shutter and now Amen. His yen for his work has made him a favourite among prominent filmmakers in the country such as Goutham Menon, Bejoy Nambiar and Maneesh Sharna.
It is not just feature films ut Renganaath has put his signature on documentaries and shortfilms that broke conventions and gained a place in the world market and received honours elsewhere.
Baavra Mann, a feature-length documentary by Jaideep Varma on the renowned filmmaker Sudhir Mishra has become a rage in film festivals abroad and had garnered many awards at Los Angeles Festival and Renganaath’s work in it has been much appreciated. “I don’t work in every film offered to me. I need to have a good rapport with the director. With Lijo, I could give my inputs as well. Likewise most of the directors I work with are quite accommodating,” says Renganaath.
“I want the crowd to familiarise with the technicians just like the stars they adore. With just superstars, one cannot make a movie, every person who work behind the camera is as important as the stars. People should realise that and give them ample recognition. Every television channel in the state has cine awards but there are no sections for technicians in those awards except state and national awards,” Renganaath continues. With undying tenacity, this sound-buff is all set about to bring that change in the minds of film lovers