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Last Updated 19.02.2020 | 9:14 AM IST
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Resul Pookutty to file RTI against multiplexes for poor sound & picture quality

On Monday evening, Rajinikanth's warm and unparalleled gesture of bringing Robot to Mumbai personally for a special screening before his Bollywood friends, culminated in a horrendous mess with the sound being completely disrupted in the 7th reel, leading to a long and embarrassing and unscheduled break just before the crucial climax of the film.


The screening, it might be mentioned was, was leading man Rajinikanth and director Shankar's belated but critical attempt to familiarize Bollywood's who's-who with Robot which had already swept the nation. Its disruption has hurt the film's crew in both emotional and more practical ways.


And now heads will roll. The team behind Robot plans to sue the chain of theatres and also approach the government to specify quality-control methods to check sound systems in the multiplexes of Mumbai.


Speaking about the evening's nightmarish, fiasco Robot's bitterly disappointed enraged and now redressal-seeking sound designer Resul Pookutty says, "From the start of the screening I knew there was something seriously wrong. Then I came to know three sets of speakers were not working. I was so upset that I immediately wanted to stop the screening. But Aamir Khan pacified me, explaining it would look very improper in front of all these stalwarts to stop the show."


Then Resul's worst fears came true. "After seven reels with 40 minutes of playing-time to go, the sound collapsed completely. It was a nightmare. When finally the screening was restored the sound was worst than before. It was one of the most humiliating evenings of my life. I haven't slept the whole night. And now I won't sleep until I receive justice on behalf of all the technicians of Indian cinema, not to mention the average patron who is not aware of the deplorable standards of sound and projection provided by almost all the multiplex chains in Mumbai."


The disappointment and sense of betrayal is so enormous that Resul chokes with emotion while talking. "We (the Robot core crew) had decided on the show after seeing the impact it had made in the South. Down there I have fought a relentless battle to change the sound quality in theatres. And now patrons in the South are so conscious of their rights to get optimum-quality sound and visual value that in Kerala, audiences broke seats and disrupted screenings at theatres with sub-standard technical value."


Resul wants to create the same value-awareness among audiences in Mumbai, and a critical step ahead in his fight against sub-standard projection and sound in Mumbai's multiplexes is an RTI being filed before the government.


Says Resul, "After that evening's experience I have already approached the IMPPA (Indian Motion Pictures Producers' Association) on behalf of the sound association of the Indian film industry. I'm next filing an RTI (Right To Information) with the government seeking to know what are the yardsticks applied before multiplexes are granted licences for operation. Are sound and projection quality a part of the licensing checks?"


Resul won't sit easy until the matter is resolved. "After Slumdog Millionaire and the national and international awards, I at least have voice about sound in our movie theatres. While in South India the sound-quality in theatres has been drastically upgraded, in the North I am sorry to say theatres continue to use an inferior technical infrastructure. Sometimes smuggled machines are employed. I've often bribed projectionists to do their jobs better. During Black, Sanjay Bhansali and I went personally from theatre to theatre to check the sound. What we discovered was shocking. Does the average patron who pays Rs.150 for a ticket know how he's being cheated? This is why I'm filing an RTI with the government."


Legal action against the multiplex chain that was behind the Robot team's shame on Monday evening is also being taken.


Says Resul, "We were already fighting an intense battle against the quality of visuals and sound provided by the multiplexes. After being so humiliated and shamed in front of the film industry on Monday evening, it's an all-out battle for our rights and the rights of the cinema-going audience. Actually what happened on Monday evening was a shame not just for the Robot team but the entire Indian movie industry."

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