How an Indian American Composer for “This Is Us” Changed my Life
NOTE: This doesn’t contain any spoilers.
Also, I promise I’m not sponsored by NBC.
If I had to recommend one show on television right now, it would be This Is Us. I’ve never seen a show that so beautifully and heart-wrenchingly captures the ups, downs, and everything in between of life. It puts into perspective what’s truly worthy of your time and attention in the grand scheme of things in a way that keeps you coming back for more every week. This Is Us doesn’t only entertain you — it enlightens you. And entertainment of powerful substance is something I can’t resist. But I felt like there was an ingredient beside the show’s brilliant cast and beautiful script in its recipe for the success and critical acclaim it’s received. It was during a scene in a recent episode when I realized just how important the show’s original score is to its magic.
It’s no secret that music plays an instrumental (haha, get it?) role in making us feel powerful emotions. When combined with other forms of art, it can make for some extremely powerful content. But for some reason, This Is Us’ original score has had a significant impact on how I see life and the things I choose to think about. I decided to download the entire album because I’ve realized that listening to it puts me in a better mindset. It sparks certain scenes from episodes to recreate in my mind, reminding me of the emotions and values I associate them with.
I came to learn that its composer is Siddhartha Khosla, an Indian American film/television composer and singer/songwriter/producer. At first, I was surprised to find that the composer was Indian American — considering that This Is Us is an American show and the entertainment industry in America isn’t short of a lack of diversity, I suppose I innately assumed that the person behind the music would be a middle-aged white male. After listening to the score a few times, my surprise faded away. I began to pick up on distinctly Indian musical elements in some of the songs. As someone who listens to Indian music, I realized that these they likely played a role in the impact that the score has on me.
I decided to look more into Mr. Khosla. His parents moved from India to the US in the mid 70s in pursuit of the American dream, but his parents maintained a connection to their roots by playing Indian movie soundtracks in his home. In an interview with Firstpost, Siddhartha talks about how the success of one of his songs, Evergreen Cassette is closely tied to its universality:
“[Evergreen Casette] at its core is about sacrifices a parent makes for their child. That’s relatable, whether you send your child back to India or whether you’re a single mom living in the US with not much money and trying to raise a child — we’re all born to this world by mothers, by virtue of that, that song is relatable.”
It turns out that Siddhartha’s extensive discography — composed of his television scores and band’s albums — has earned him titles like “Album of the Year”, “Arrangement of the Year”, and “Song of the Year” from organizations like the Los Angeles Times and the Contemporary A Capella Recording Awards; he’s composed scores for movies and TV shows like How I Met Your Mother, The Neighbors, The Sounding and Fat Camp; his music has been used in advertising campaigns for Google, Target and Apple, and he was invited by ex-First Lady Michelle Obama for the first Diwali celebration at the White House.
I’m telling you all of this to highlight that this person from one part of the planet has been able to impact so many human beings across the globe because of the opportunities he’s had (and, of course, because of his talent). By having the chance to fuse his cultural roots with genres and styles from other parts of the world, Mr. Khosla has created masterpieces that have genuinely impacted my life for the better. And it’s not just me — CBC has highlighted how Siddhartha Khosla is an ‘invisible’ but crucial character on the hit show This Is Us, and National Public Radio claims that Siddhartha Khosla has tiptoed into the tear ducts of millions of Americans. This isn’t an opinion on immigration laws or the effects of an increasingly globalized world, but on the importance and beauty of inter-cultural collaboration. Yes, in an increasingly globalized world, it is necessary. But even more than that, it is beneficial. I don’t know if This Is Us’ score would have the same impact on me (and others) if it didn’t have its blips of Indian music that completely transform its power.
I encourage you to think about how you can or will bring people of different cultures together in your life. Inter-cultural cooperation and collaboration are essential to fostering innovative ways of thinking, achieving peace and prosperity, and creating synergy. And yet, a difference in culture often acts as a wall between two groups of human beings, sealing off so much potential. I encourage you to think about tearing down that wall. Not only because I believe it’s needed based on where our world is headed, but because I can almost guarantee that it’ll pave the way to creations that will be like music to your ears.
Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts on intercultural cooperation, and how you strive for it in your day-to-day life.If you like what you read, feel free to check out my other posts and follow me.