Nihira composes, fuses Hindi lyrics with authentic Cuban music


Internationally acclaimed popular singer, composer, independent music producer, Spanish translator come interpreter, Germany based Nihira Joshi Deshpande has created an independent song with Hindi lyrics set to the melody of authentic Cuban music. This song  Ishq Manayein Kya? has gone viral as she narrates her experience in a free-wheeling chat to Rahul Laud

To many Nihira Joshi Deshpande has been singing for many Marathi and Hindi films, worked with Shankar Ehsaan Loy for many films like Kill Dill , Bunty aur Bubli, Salaam e ishq, and known as a Nominee for the Radio Mirchi awards and Maharashtra State awards.

But very few maybe acquainted of the fact that she started making independent music in the last 4 years. Her single ‘Nirmohiya’ was a part of several playlists like the Apple Music Editors list, as well as a nominee for the Independent Music Awards USA. Currently she is working on several singles and an EP as she celebrates her success of producing and composing a unique authentic Cuban melody Ishq Manayein Kya? with Hindi lyrics written by none other than Manoj Yadav.  

Manoj Yadav, lyricist

Her latest music single Ishq Manayein Kya? Though in Hindi has taken Cuba by storm as the Cubans are grooving to this Latin American melody on their streets. Produced with Barcelona based Ronald Mente Miyares from RMM Productions in Spain and impeccable music arrangement by the famous Horacio Borbolla Quintana who arranged the  music in Cuba with the band Orquesta Son Diamantes, Nihira has composed a foot tapping melody for Salsa dancing on a Hindi song, is a rare historic feat. Indians are also slowly warming up to the tune as they like the blend of rich Hindi lyrics to a hummable Cuban melody.

‘’Salsa is like an ocean,’’ she points out. The aim of the song project was to keep the Cuban music intact. The basic idea of this song was to create an authentic sounding Cuban Salsa-Timba piece, more than adding just the flavour, she stated. ‘’With rehearsal for nearly three full months the instrumentation was ensured to be authentic. All the instruments typical to a Salsa like the Tres, the Congas, Bongos, Bass, Güiro, Trombone, Trumpets, Saxophone etc have been used,’’ she pointed out.  

The song begins with the lead melody and follows into a sequence of ‘Coros-Guías’ (a section where the back vocalists sing a chorus segment and the lead vocalist improvises on it), followed by a Mambo section and ends with a Saxophone solo. The mix and the master is also done in the Cuban way, made to sound like a band performing this song together blending into each other, Nihira elaborates.

It was in the most difficult times in July 2020 Nihira thought of this idea to be executed. She goes down memory lane that this idea came to her on her holiday trip to Netherlands in 2019 and since then she contemplated to pursue her dream. It wasn’t easy she said as her thought was slightly out of the box and she added that there was none other lyricist who would have probably done a better job than Manoj Yadav had to be roped in. Adding to the challenges of generating finance, she said writing and translating the entire Hindi song in Spanish was a task which she did, furthermore, as she could not send them the notations they heard the melody repeatedly and finally created the notation for the band, she explained. Eventually, Germany (Nihira)), Spain (Ronald) and Cuba (Band) were three countries that joined hands to create this global fusion musical single. 

Once the final music was created on tracks she sang the whole song at home with several takes. Her very young daughter Ira acted as a supervisor and her husband Abhijeet offered in-house tech support she admits. The experience was entirely different as the crux of the singing had to be ‘’totally   enjoyable, carefree, very spontaneous and candid.’’ This was a challenge to her Hindustani classical and semi classical music grooming she said. Her music producer and arranger suggested that her singing had to be totally natural and not fake which she accomplished on the final take.

Ronald Mente Miyares, RMM Productions, Spain

How did she surrender to this form? What is that in the Cuban music and Salsa dancing that she cherishes the most that she is so passionate about? Nihira has an instant smile on her face. She narrated, ‘’Before marriage on a flight she saw the film ‘Taking the Lead’ that introduced her to partner dancing. The whole idea of making the partner look good and both dancers to be on the same page and with a lovely energy to match drove her straight to the dance class to learn Salsa.’’ She attributes her entire credit to Pune based Rocky Poonawala her Salsa dance guru who instilled in her the commitment, love, discipline, teamwork and finer nuances of the dance form. Post marriage she introduced her husband to Salsa too and after she left Pune to touch German shores – both Abhijeet and Nihira continue to hit the dance floor there with Salsa.   

The musician and dancer in her helped her to explore to experiment and make inroads into the world of Cuban musicality, she narrates. Being a Spanish language teacher, translator and interpreter working with the Indian Navy earlier attracted her to the world of Salsa dancing, she recalls.

Nihira Joshi Deshpande with family

Nihira says, ‘‘The inspiration to make this song came from my love for Salsa, as a form of music, dance and expression. I have always been intrigued by the joyful freedom, the spontaneity, the ability to enjoy one’s own music while making it that this genre houses and always dreamt of being able to express myself musically with this mind-set.  Salsa takes you into a different world which is stress free and transports you into you a different planet.’’ With humility she admits her voice and tonal quality and timbre is not tailor made for Cuban musicality as her roots are Maharashtrian.’’

The song Ishq Manayein Kya? Has gone viral. With this effort it’s evident that Independent music with artistes like Nihira is here to stay.  Check the track that’s gone viral and you may groove to your favourite dance form.

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