Kaala: Sound designer Anthony Ruban says it was challenging to represent Dharavi politically, culturally

Surendhar MK

June 10, 2018 15:06:21 IST

Sound designer Anthony Ruban, who is collaborating with director Pa. Ranjith for the third consecutive time in Kaala after Madras and Kabali, is one of the chief technicians of the much-anticipated project who traveled with the film from the scripting stage itself. Firstpost got in touch with Anthony Ruban to learn about the intriguing journey of designing the soundscape of Kaala.

Shedding some light of the nature of his work, Ruban said, "I'm someone who supervises all the stages of sound. Script discussion, recording sound effects, recording the dubbing in the studio, live recording and all the other aspects of sound in a movie. I create an exclusive sound for the film so that it's not random and functional. I work both creatively and technically and ensure that the sound goes with the story and mood of the film until the final mix stage. It's my responsibility. I also supervise the sound editing and give the mixing engineer all the necessary sound materials."

Ruban has also worked in director Bramma's national award-winning film Kuttram Kadithal and his sophomore women-centric feature Magalir Mattum which starred Jyotika in the lead role.

Talking about Kaala, Ruban says, "It is the most challenging film I've ever worked in my career so far. It's because of the space the story is set in, the dynamics of the area and the challenge to capture the lively sounds of the slum life. In Dharavi, the day-to-day chores are not scheduled correctly like the urban life. They will wash clothes only when the water comes. Dharavi has numerous mosques, and when all of them play Azaan (prayer call) at the same time, the entire place resonates with a symphony of Azaans. People from all religions live there, and they celebrate all kinds of festivals like Diwali, Dussehra, Ganapathi Chaturthi, Ramzan, Eid al-Adha, and Holi. The film's dynamics is set up in such a way that it covers and explores one whole year of seasons too like winter, monsoon, etc."

He adds, "Be it encapsulating the social mores of the community or capturing the livelihood of the people; it was quite a challenging task to represent Dharavi both politically and culturally."

A still from Kaala behind the scenes/Image from Twitter.

A still from Kaala behind the scenes/Image from Twitter.

Ruban says Kaala has a mix of sociology and politics. "It has a socio-political story. The film has a mix of sociology and politics. Since the film talks about the land and its people, sound takes a lot of responsibility in being faithful to the place. I was also very careful not to make the sound congested. But despite the congestion in Dharavi, people live happily there. So, I had to bring out that happiness in sound and create a sense of life. The entire community knows each other very well there. It's like a self-sustained machine. So, compared to Madras and Kabali, Kaala is a very lively and colorful film in terms of visual and sound," he avers.

Although Ruban has stayed in Mumbai for ten years, he says he has never been to Dharavi. "It's a completely different world there. So, I had to go and do my research. Initially, I visited for three days to walk and observe the lifestyle there and take notes. I took my notes and went again during the Ganapati Festival. After we completed the shoot, I compared my notes with the film and began my recording process of sounds. I went for the final recording of sounds after taking a comprehensive list of scenes from the movie. I had to keep my recorder on all the time and walk around the entire vicinity because anything can happen at any moment in Dharavi. There's no organized schedule. I captured whatever was possible and important. The collection of materials alone took us nearly three to four months. Nearly 85% of the movie will feature the real sounds of Dharavi," he said about the preparation for the project.

Spilling some beans on the dubbing process, Ruban said, "For crowd dubbing alone, we got close to 50 people from Tirunelveli to the studio and dubbed it because people in Dharavi speak the native Tirunelveli slang fluently. With them, we recorded a lot of shouts, chants, protest slogans and more. And, except Huma Qureshi, everyone in the film has dubbed in their own voice."

During Kabali, Ruban missed out on the opportunity to talk to Rajinikanth properly since he was busy with a Hindi film. However, this time, he made sure that he was present during the entire dubbing process. Heaping praise on the superstar, Ruban said, "Rajinikanth sir finished his entire dubbing process for the film in just two and a half days. It was very nice interacting with him. He is a very hard worker. He has put in a tremendous effort for the performance and also during the dubbing session. There are different colors to his performance. He worked even harder during the dubbing to bring out the essence of his role."

Adding further, Ruban gushed, "There are instances where even if we say okay, he would go for another take and deliver a much better output. He constantly kept improving. And considering the amount of material he had to perform, his dubbing process was comparatively swift. More than us, he had a better idea of how he should sound. He picked up the Tirunelveli slang also very quickly and was co-operative too."

Ruban said Kaala has a gamut of emotions and a lot of dynamics. "It is filled with a lot of ups and downs with a wide range of colors in the story. In terms of characterization, dialogue-writing, and story-telling, Kaala will be a very powerful, emotional and energetic film. Nana Patekar will come across as an ominous villain, and it has lifted the entire film as well," he said on a concluding note.

Updated Date: Jun 10, 2018 15:06 PM