A Q&A with Universal Initiative Participant, Composer Raashi Kulkarni

  1. First of all, congratulations on being selected for the Universal Composers Initiative. How was the submission process like for you? How did you receive the incredible news and what are your hopes and plans to make the most out of the program?

    Thank you so much. The submission process for the initiative was meticulous. I spent a lot of time drafting the essay and selecting which cues were the best reflection of my overall work. I received the wonderful news via a video call from the VP at NBCUniversal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion team. I look forward to learning from my seven brilliant peers and incredibly supportive executives, growing as a composer, and working on future NBCUniversal projects.

  2. You are the first Indian American to be selected for this initiative, you also previously composed and orchestrated music for DC Universe’s first Bollywood-inspired musical in 2019, which was also featured on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. How does your Indian background and roots play into your scores and compositions? 

    As an Indian American woman born and raised in the United States, my background and roots play a significant role in the development of my music. The music that I enjoy creating today has been greatly influenced by the genres I grew up listening to. These include but are not limited to Western classical, Indian classical, Jazz, Broadway, Bollywood, and Pop. I hope to continue evolving my sound through my work and collaborations with other filmmakers and artists.

  3. I know you can’t tell us much about the Wedding Season Netflix film yet, which you are co-composing the score for alongside composer Jongnic Bontemps. But maybe you can give us some hints until the official release. Since the story talks about an Indian-American woman, what will be your vision and process for scoring your cues? 

    Working on this feature has been one of the most fulfilling projects of my career thus far. The characters and their stories resonate with me personally. Jongnic and I have poured our hearts and soul into the music, creating a contemporary soundscape for the score. It is a reflection and hybrid of our backgrounds, our immigrant parents, and our cultures. Because we were hired during the script phase, we were able to really digest the story and sit with these characters, their perspectives and emotions. Composing thematic music for this film has come naturally because I feel directly connected to it. It has been such an enjoyable and collaborative process.

  4. There is a wave and a movement of awareness in regards to diversity and mis/underrepresented voices in the entertainment industry, and it is certainly heading towards a more positive place in having our voices heard, and amplified. How do you feel you contribute to this movement as an Indian American woman, and living in Los Angeles? What do you hope you can do, or have done in such regards? 

    Embracing the many facets of people enables us to be more authentic storytellers. It poses as an opportunity to deliver necessary imprints that future generations will see on screen. When we welcome diverse perspectives, it adds value and richness to our field. I believe the entertainment industry has made well-intentioned strides towards diversity, which will lay the foundation for valuable voices to be heard. My goal is to contribute to this progress by continuing to hone my craft while telling essential, diverse, and inclusive stories.

    Recently, I have done interviews with several South Asian publications based in the United States to continue spreading awareness about the film and music industry: speaking out on how we can inspire change moving forward. I’m incredibly passionate about diversity and inclusion and will continue to amplify the voices of the unrepresented until we are no longer underrepresented. We, too, are qualified, capable, and deserving to be in this space.

    I am also serving on The Membership Committee of the Recording Academy, which works with the LA Chapter team in coordinating efforts focused on recruiting and retaining members to meet the goals and mission of the Academy. This includes representing and engaging the diverse pool of talent that makes up our music community.

  5. If you had a magic wand, what project would you hope you would be scoring right now? And who would you hope to be reading this article and saying to themselves: “I am so hiring this woman?”

    I’d love to be working on a raw, emotional drama or a superhero film. I feel incredibly inspired when I am able to write music for these genres. One day I hope to work with inspiring trailblazers like Ava DuVernay, Mindy Kaling and Chloé Zhao.

    Interview by Ghiya Rushidat

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