Anurag Basu’s ‘Barfi!’ carries a pinch of freshness in each frame. The movie, where Ranbir Kapoor plays a deaf and mute guy, has its sound designed by Shajith Koyeri, a Keralite. Considered as one of the best sound designers in Bollywood, the Punnol-born National Award winning sound designer has worked for over 70 films, including ‘Omkara’, ‘Kaminey’, ‘Ishqiya’, ‘DAM 999’, ‘Maqbool’, ‘Black’, ‘No One Killed Jessica’ and ‘Bluff Master’.
“‘Barfi!’ is a sweet treat for the audience. Nowadays, Bollywood hardly makes any good films. ‘Barfi!’ is a film that makes everyone happy. Though the character Barfi can neither hear nor speak the film is not full of drama or emotional overdose. The film exudes positive energy and nothing is overdone,” Shajith avers.
He adds that ‘Barfi!’ is very special for him as the film is simple, beautiful and depicts unselfish love. “Films full of action are easier to do. This is a silent movie so in terms of sound it should be nice. I need to cast it perfect so that the emotion of the character is easily conveyed. For example, after the death of Barfi’s father, there is a scene where Ranbir’s face is heavy and he feels the surrounding silence in that house. I mixed silence and pigeon sounds together and that sounded very nice,” he says.
Shajith says that recording sounds for this unique film was quite challenging for him, especially when rain and train are two integral characters in it. “In most of the films the sound of rain will be shown with its muddiness. But I have given each and every detail of the sound of rain. That means, the sound of rain will be different depending on the places it falls. The most important thing is the rain should not disturb the mood of the film,” Shajith explains.
When asked about his career as a sound designer he says “I call myself a sound designer. There is a wide difference between sound designing and sound engineering. Sound designer should be highly creative. Sound engineer is the one who records sound and make the environment apt for recording, but sound designer is more than that.”
He adds that he was clueless about the field when he entered it as a novice. “When I had some health issues and was left with no further option, my friend called to me to Mumbai where I started learning sound editing. It took six months to learn the basics and I wanted to do something different and worked hard. The first film I worked for was ‘Blue Umbrella’.”
He bagged the National and Filmfare awards for ‘Omkara’, released in 2006. He later won the Star Screen Award for ‘Kaminey’ in 2010 and then the GMA Award for ‘DAM 999’ in 2012. “It was a real surprise that I got the National Award for ‘Omkara’. It was not even in my dreams,” he laughs. “I expected something for ‘Kaminey’, but it went unnoticed. Getting awards is not about becoming famous, but it feels good when your close ones appreciate for the work you have done,” he says.
Interestingly, even though a Keralite, he hasn’t done any work in Malayalam. He has his own justification for this. “There is no scope for a sound designer in Kerala. Here, it takes two to three months only for sound recording and dubbing. But, there the whole film will be finished in that time. There is a lot of good and talented technicians, but they are not paid well. Mostly, there are only a few quality theatres in Kerala. Sound treatment in Malayalam films should be changed. I am ready to do Malayalam films, especially if it’s a film like ‘Barfi!’.”