ReelWorld Film Festival to honour York grad

On Sunday, the ReelWorld Film Festival will present its coveted Trailblazer Award to York grad Vikas Kohli.

Kohli (MBA ’00) is the first film composer and music producer to receive the award, to be presented at the Brunch with Brilliance Awards ceremony in Toronto.

“Getting the Trailblazer Award just makes me feel like I need to work harder to live up to the expectations this sets,” says Kohli, who will turn 36 the next day.

Kohli (below) is a self-taught music producer and film composer who walked away from a lucrative and promising career in investment banking at the age of 28. (See YorkU, February 2011 issue).


He started FatLabs, a recording studio in the basement of his mother’s Mississauga house, in 2003 and quickly built an international reputation for fusing genres as varied as punk, hip-hop and Bollywood pop. He has collaborated on songs with India’s bhangra music star Mike Singh and over the past year scored award-winning films produced in Canada, such as The Bee, screened at the Toronto Urban Film Festival; Shanti Baba Ram and the Dancers of Hope (aired on CBC); and I Do. Do I? by About Time Productions.

In 2008, he was the first Canadian to have a song performed live at the International Indian Film Academy awards gala, Bollywood’s equivalent to the Oscars. IIFA is holding its awards ceremony in  Toronto this year in June and Kohli is sure to be there.

Meanwhile, he’s busier than ever. He just finished composing for Bouma, a film supported by the National Film Board of Canada, and will score Calcutta Taxi, a trilogy backed by Bravo!

Created in 2002, the Trailblazer Award recognizes the accomplishments of ethnically diverse Canadian entertainment industry professionals. For the past 10 years, ReelWorld has recognized some of Canada’s brightest talents for their ability to bring innovative stories to the silver screen.

The 11th annual ReelWorld Film Festival will take place April 6-10.