The opening soundtrack of the Game of Thrones series has an ominous feel to it; the pace is up-tempo and then, it tapers off. Now, imagine this tune played on a flute, the percussion sounds provided by the tabla, and the supporting sound on a piano.
This cover, composed and created at 20-year-old music production student Tushar Lall’s tiny flat in Santacruz, boasts of 2,51,085 hits on YouTube. Lall and his team members – Samay Lalwani (22), drummer for Alt-Rock Band Red Seems Right, and Prathamesh Salunke (22), a third year BCom student, who studies the flute under Rakesh Chaurasia – form the Indian Jam Project (IJP). And rather than being defined as a band, the trio identify their project as a “platform where musicians come together to create something unique”.
Unlike most twenty-somethings, Lall’s room has noise-cancelling apparatus instead of posters, as well as a keyboard, a recording mic, an amplifier and a djembe. Lalwani and Salunke – proficient in the tabla and the flute respectively – were having an impromptu jamming session when we visited. Three rather shy boys, producing covers of official film soundtracks, out of a single room with an iMac. In a nutshell, this is what IJP is all about.
Established in October 2014, IJP has, so far, composed classical covers for five soundtracks, including Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones and Michael Price’s Sherlock theme song. “It is an original concept and I chose the classical genre because of its ability to evoke varied emotions. Luckily, two of my friends agreed to join me and that’s how we started off,” says Lall.
The positive response and a massive viewership for their first track came as a surprise to the team. “It was overwhelming. People took out time to request song covers just after our first video,” reminisces Lall. Their second cover – BBC drama Sherlock’s opening theme – impressed Michael Price, the original composer, and the show's creator, Mark Gatiss. So much so, they both shared it on Twitter. Then musician Karsh Kale tweeted praising their Pirates of the Caribbean cover, and made a request for a Gladiator cover. “It was a brilliant feeling. Karsh is a huge inspiration, and when someone that big makes a request, it is a huge compliment,” says Lalwani, confirming that the track is under consideration.
Having previously worked with each other in inter-collegiate festivals and competitions, their familiarity with each other’s work ensures that the production process is smooth. The team chooses their projects based on audience suggestions on YouTube. Once they decide on an OST, Lall lays down the basic framework on the piano, to which Lalwani adds the rhythm and Salunke and other musicians add their improvisations. Lall then mixes the track on his computer and the song comes to life in his room. Videographers Tuhin Mukherjee and Amitesh Mukherjee shoot and edit the videos.
“Our aim is to collaborate with acclaimed Hindustani classical musicians,” says Lall. For their next project, they plan to collaborate with musicians from across the city and are confident that this will be their ‘best-ever’ composition.
They claim to have dropped a lot of hints on social media and are posting teasers that all lead to the Harry Potter theme. “It’s definitely going to have a lot of new elements and, so far, it has been tremendous fun producing it,” Lall concludes.
Tracks covered so far
* Game of Thrones (opening credits) by Ramin Djawadi
* The Rains of Castamere by Ramin Djawadi
* Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badelt
* Interstellar theme by Hans Zimmer
* Sherlock (opening credits) by Michael Price