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The Indian Jam Project

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Tushar Lall, Composer-Producer

Tushar Lall, a self-taught musician, can’t really trace back to the beginning of his relationship with music. His love for the art was ever-present. A lack of formal training in either Indian classical or Western music only sharpened his penchant for it. Following a degree in music production in New York, Tushar returned to his homeland with a curious idea that he meant to explore. When along with two friends - Samay Lalwani and Prathamesh Salunke - Tushar composed an Indian adaptation of the famous Game of Thrones theme, The Indian Jam Project was born, and became an overnight sensation. With a keen interest to highlight the versatility of Indian instruments, the music platform has composed Indian covers of famous themes - that of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Interstellar and Inception to name a few. Tushar’s compositions are haunting, complex and emotive. Last week, they launched a cover of the famous theme from Requiem for a Dream that features an experimental collaboration with Siri. As we connect over a phone call, Tushar takes me through his journey, the inspiration behind The Indian Jam Project and an exciting project in the pipeline. 

How did your romance with music begin?
I think my love for music was something that was always there. No matter what happened in my life, I would always come back to music. But I think it stemmed from a simple childhood incident. My sister had bought a keyboard and she would play it all day, and I started playing too, just to be better at it than her (laughs). So I guess it all began from good old sibling rivalry. But once I started playing, I never stopped. 

What kick-started the idea of The Indian Jam Project? How did you start composing Indian adaptations of famous Western themes?
Indian classical music is highly emotive, and when I decided to create these Indian adaptations I knew that I had to work around emotion. But at the core of the concept of The Indian Jam Project lay a single idea - to showcase the versatility of Indian instruments. A sarangi lends itself beautifully to a raag, but it can conjure other kind of magic too. So when I sat down and re-interpreted famous Western themes with instruments with an essentially Indian origin it was a different kind of adventure altogether. It was a chance for the world to reconsider what these instruments could and could not do. 

From releasing your first cover in 2014 to now - how has your music helped you evolve?
Indian classical music builds and revolves around a certain focal point. Western music is all over the place - it is busy and it is colorful. Bringing the two together has helped me center myself. Also, Indian classical music is very meditative. That has pushed me to dig deeper into my art and helped me grow both as an individual and a musician. 

What was the most challenging aspect of bringing together two such disparate genres of music?
I think the challenge lay in arranging the scores and conceptualizing how these two genres would be married together. Indian instruments are played in a certain way, to produce a certain kind of sound and emotion. Now to re-interpret a piece of Western music with those very instruments meant radically reimagining what these instruments could do and exploring their potential. That was both the most challenging and the most fun aspect of bringing The Indian Jam Project together. 

What does music mean to you?

What’s next?
Right now I’m working on this idea for a Global Jam Project. So how The Indian Jam Project celebrates Indian instruments, this project would be all about throwing some limelight on the most under-rated instruments from all over the world. I’m still building on the idea. Fingers crossed!

Find their latest adaptation of the Requiem for a Dream theme here. 

Text Ritupriya Basu


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