Anup Mukhopadhyay: Designing the widest range of sound in Indian film industry

Posted by Kaahon Desk On March 22, 2018

Anup Mukhopadhyay, a FTII graduate in Sound Engineering is a celebrated Sound Designer of Indian Film Industry. He is five times National Award winner for best sound design. He worked with leading Film Directors of India such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Goutam Ghose, Aparna Sen and many more in the art house section and on the other side he designed sound for Anjan Choudhury, Swapan Saha and many other Bengali commercial filmmakers managing the most well-ranged filmography in recent Bengali film industry.

He would have been like any other common ordinary man, if not his father in order to escape from the political turmoil of West Bengal in the 70s had urged him to take admission in the Film and Television Institute of India. During his student life there, he was mesmerized with the films of the European great film directors who had changed the history of world cinema. When he stepped out of the Institute and started his career, his ideas and visions of the film industry shattered to pieces. Hardly people in the Bombay film industry respected any trained technicians. He wanted to start his career with some dignity, and hence joined the newly launched Bombay TV at the good time of Television getting introduced in India. Yes, it was indeed Television, which gave Anup Mukhopadhyay a chance to experiment with his craft and provided him practical practice sessions to prove his creativity in the field of cinematic sound. His journey in Televisionbrought him from Bombay to Kolkata via Odisha and the year-wise duration was from 1974-1982. He went to Malaysia as an Indian representative to AIBD, Asian Institute for Broadcasting Development, which opened his eyes towards technological revolution in sound for audio-visual medium that has already happened in the world, which had started to affect Asian countries too. While in India, Doordarshan was still working with film reels. But Television cannot be a medium of expression for a sound designer like Anup Mukhopadhyay. His mind was craving to work for films, where he can create new languages and designs of sound. He applied for a senior post in NFDC and joined. Here starts his journey in films. Then his signature as a sound designer never stumbled upon any ravines. His specialty is that he is equally fluent in working with filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Asit Sen, Tapan Sinha, again he is as equally a master when he is designing sound for most successful commercial films like Shatru, Gurudakkhhina and many more. Anup Mukhopadhyay says that a sound designer first has to understand the rhythm of the values that a film is trying to communicate. He learns from a director but then creates something of his own and then takes the director’s approval. This kind of exchange helped Anup Mukhopadhyay to create magic in sound and win all film lover’s and the director’s admiration. Anup Mukhopadhyay though sighs about the fact that he missed the chance to experience what great masters of Indian cinema like Satyajit Ray would have done with the technologically advanced sound recording and processing equipment of today.

Anup Mukhopadhyay had started working when the post-production process for sound mixing was almost manual and required tedious memorizing mechanisms. One fraction mistake was considered to be not only wasting a lot of money but also time and human effort. After traversing such strict and difficult journeys and making great films, any technological innovation comes with no great surprise for Anup Mukhopadhyay. A faint complain comes from him when he says that now hardly film makers write screenplays from a script. Thus, if detailed screen plays are not thought of and much effort is not given in the pre-production phase, it is very difficult to design the sound for a film at the script stage. The editor or the sound designer cannot understand the cut point of a scene, as it is not mentioned in the screenplay, thus the designing of the sound of a film starts from the editing table and not from its initial stage and this affects negatively in the overall aesthetic quality of the film. Anup Mukhopadhyay feels that while choosing either the sound of a film will be made in 5.1 or in Atmos should be decided upon the subject of the film or in which dimension, the film will be screened. He thinks that Atmos should be preferred for a 3D film and not for a 2D film. Anup Mukhopadhyay feels that the sound track of a film also narrates a story and this story should match or complement the narrative of the film. Anup Mukhopadhyay has spent half of his lifetime and is still spending the majority quality time of his life in dark mixing rooms. He perceives the reality through only films. If now he needs to create a compressed reality through his sounds in films now, then probably he thinks is not so because the makers, thinkers have loosed the depth to enquire the world surgically, but because of various non-filmic or non artistic agendas. Anup Mukhopadhyay dreams that as these agendas are fleeting and changing, deep audiovisual minds to explore the truth will come back, and that will again change the cinematic history for good.

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