Shadow Realm
Shadow Realm
Feb 24, 2022
True Fiction Project - Shadow Realm with Dr. Kanniks Kannikeswaran
Play • 43 min

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Shadow Realm podcast to introduce you to my other podcast, True Fiction Project which is a podcast that explores the origins of fiction. This episode interview is with Dr. Kanniks Kannikeswaran, the composer and conductor of the Shadow Realm soundtrack. He is an internationally renowned music composer, educator, and scholar known for his sustained contribution to music and community for the past 25 years. We talk about his incredible work on the soundtrack of Shadow Realm, a podcast project based on a young adult fantasy fiction book that I wrote. Dr. Kanniks shares how his imagination was instantly captivated by the vivid literary descriptions and how he utilized Sanskrit chants, an ancient language of India, to musically portray different characters. We also talk about the inspiration he found from his travels to the ancient village of Hampi, India. The latter part of the episode showcases Dr. Kanniks’ work as we listen to Episode 8 of Shadow Realm and hear a portion of Arya’s story.


  • [00:01] Kanniks Kannikeswaran introduced 
  • [02:02] Purpose of The True Fiction Project
  • [03:12] His process of writing music 
  • [10:50] Explaining lyrics and Sanskrit
  • [13:40] The Medicine Woman
  • [16:55] Rishiji’s Theme
  • [25:57] Where to find the music
  • [28:30] Episode 8 of Shadow Realm
  • [29:03] The Vanar’s theme
  • [39:06] Rishiji’s theme 



  • Shadow Realm is a young adult fantasy fiction story about Arya, a 15-year-old boy who fell through a fault and finds himself in the land of the Ramayana. He has to fight demons in this mythical world in order to get back home to save his mom and tackle demons in his ordinary world
  • Dr. Kanniks’ main inspiration came from his travels to the ancient village of Hampi in India
  • The vanar represent the prehistoric people descended from old world tribes, best translated as monkeys or monkey people
  • For the “Vanar March,” Dr. Kanniks used Sanskrit chants to create a joyful chant to go along with the vanar as they joyfully frolic and jump around
  • For “Rishiji’s Theme,” Dr. Kanniks used the pentatonic scale, most commonly known for meditation, to create a serene humming that captures the magic and mysteriousness of the mystical mentor
  • The Medicine Woman is a representation of a source of wisdom for us all
  • Dr. Kanniks created a total of 14 tracks to complement the podcast project which is now available on Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming platforms. 



Dr. Kanniks Kannikeswaran, an internationally renowned music composer, educator, and scholar is known for his sustained contribution to music and community for the past 25 years. His recent viral video ‘Rivers of India’ featuring Bombay Jayashri and Kaushiki Chakravarti has received critical acclaim. Kanniks is regarded as a pioneer of Indian American Choral music and for bringing together ancient chants in Indian ragas with choral and orchestral polyphony; his far reaching work in this area has personally touched the lives of over 3500 performers, has inspired the flowering of community choirs in over 12 cities in the United States, has built new audiences and collaborations. His composition ‘Mahavakya’ was performed at the historic reception accorded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Madison Square Gardens in 2014. Kanniks has been described as a renaissance personality who effortlessly traverses diverse disciplines such as music, spirituality, and innovation. He is a recipient of several awards including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Madras, the McKnight Residency, the Ohio Heritage Fellowship, and more. He can be reached at

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