Life in Bollywood: Ambrish Acharya

Full Sail grad Ambrish Acharya imagined making his mark in the largest entertainment industry in the world. To most, that means packing for the glam world of Hollywood. For Ambrish, however, Hollywood was only a stop along the way. His ultimate destination was a city that releases 800 films per year – more than double the features of America’s movie capitol – with 14 million devoted moviegoers packing theatres every day. That magical place is Bollywood, nestled in Ambrish’s home country of India.

It was a long journey from India to Full Sail to Hollywood and back again (and more recently, to Hong Kong… but we’ll get to that later), but Ambrish has enjoyed the ride. He first became interested in audio while a college student in India. “I used to do music editing and mixing for university shows as a hobby while studying my [computer] engineering,” he explains. “I have also learned the Indian percussion instrument, the Tabla, and performed on and off as an accompanist for six years as well. So I have a background in music.”

When Ambrish decided he wanted to attend a school for audio engineering, a couple of India’s top engineers recommended Full Sail, and he decided to check it out. “Leaving India was a big step for me. My entire family was here. But [with] the passion for perfecting what I enjoy, [I] never paid heed.”

Ambrish excelled at Full Sail, and after graduation, he scored an internship in L.A with audio facility Threshold Sound & Vision. He was offered a three-month internship, “but I was put on their payroll before the end of the second month.” He enjoyed his work at Threshold, even receiving a permanent offer, but Ambrish was eager to get back to India and enter the world of Bollywood.

Landing back in India, he hooked up with Bollywood post-production facility, Flying Carpet Productions (FCP) as one of their engineers. Since 99% of all Bollywood productions are musicals, Ambrish says the Pro Tools and Nuendo skills he learned at Full Sail helped land him the job. Within six months of coming on board at Flying Carpet, the company merged with another studio. “FCP took over an existing studio called The Fourth Dimension (4D),” Ambrish explains. “I was made head engineer of the Pro Tools room.”

So far, the highlight of his career involved recording India's top composer/producer, AR Rahman. “AR sir usually goes to studios with his own engineers to track,” Ambrish says. “But he came to 4D with only his assistant engineer and we finished the job, a film called Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. We tracked two songs for it. That was my proudest moment, getting to meet him as a professional rather than as a fan.”

Helping to create movies for the Indian entertainment biz has been a dream fulfilled for Ambrish. “Here I am in the wonderful world of postproduction,” he says. “I get to live around music and enjoy it at the same time. What more can an engineer ask for?”

But even with his dream realized, new opportunities are always arising, allowing Ambrish to take his career even higher. Recently, he has accepted an offer from News Corp., the parent company for 20th Century Fox, StarTV, and SKY TV, to relocate to Hong Kong and take on the job of senior audio engineer for StarTV.

Whether it’s Hollywood, Bollywood, or Hong Kong, Ambrish is always eager for new challenges. “Every step in one’s life there is something to learn, or else you wouldn't be doing it. I believe there is a lot to learn in life... yet.”

By Michael Barfield / Kaitlin Funaro
Full Sail Real World Education - Recording Arts News
Friday, July 21st 2006