Grad Ashish Manchanda: From Garth Brooks to Bollywood

Ashish Manchanda has always been fascinated by the behind-the-scenes world of the entertainment industry. In his formative years as a drummer just near the city of Mumbai, India, he found that his interest in music extended far beyond that of the average musician.

“I was always very curious about the sounds I heard on my favorite records,” Ashish says, citing the work of Michael Jackson, Bryan Adams, and Bruce Springsteen as huge influences in his decision to get into the recording arts. “I would read Mix magazine and learn as much as I could about the kinds of microphones that were used to record these albums, what kind of tones they tried to achieve, and what technology they used. It was all very romantic to me.”

That passion is what led Ashish to travel to the United States to attend Full Sail. “I was working in a recording studio in Bombay, but I knew that I wasn’t following the right route,” he says. “If you want to learn the tabla, you’re better off coming to India because it’s been played there for thousands of years, and there’s so much history there. Similarly, America is the place where production was pioneered, so I knew if I was going to master that process, it would make sense for me to head directly to the source.”

After graduating from Full Sail’s Recording Arts degree program in 1997, he went on to work on a variety of projects throughout the US, lending his engineering skill to projects by artists such as Garth Brooks and James Taylor and working closely with the man who helped craft some of the very records that influenced his career, Grammy-winning producer/engineer Bruce Swedien (Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington).

But Ashish’s quest to learn and do more eventually took him back to India, where he started his own Flying Carpet Productions, an audio/film production house specializing in filmmaking, music production, composition and arrangement, sound design, mixing, and mastering. And though his love for music hasn’t subsided, his focus has recently shifted on telling stories and delving into the behind-the-scenes world of a whole new arena: the film industry.

Ashish’s interest in storytelling stemmed from a challenge all too common to most parents: trying to put his children to bed. “When our second child was born, I had to devote all of my attention to the new baby, and Ashish was left to try to put our two year-old to bed,” says his wife Ujjla, who works in the fashion industry and has been contributing to some of Flying Carpet’s forthcoming projects. “She was used to only sleeping with me, and the only way that he could get her to go to sleep was by telling her stories. Now we plan on turning some of those very same stories into films.”

“I feel like I’ve entered the next phase in my career. I’m far from a master craftsman in this arena right now, but I’ve been sharpening myself up in story writing, and basically taking the same process that I used to learn about music production and applying it to film,” Ashish says. “If I had just wanted to pursue engineering as my sole direction, I would have stayed in America. But I feel that India’s industry allows me to be more multi-faceted and allows me to explore all of these different aspects of entertainment.”

While many working in the industry would be satisfied with having accomplished what he’s done in the first part of his career, Ashish approaches this new chapter with the same passion and excitement that he felt in the very beginning. “I never had the most solid game plan, but what I did know is that I wanted to do all sorts of things in the industry,” he says. “And I never doubted that I could do it. The energy that you have when you start on that kind of path forms a momentum; the more you have and build up, the farther you’ll go.”