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My Hindi's getting better, says New Zealand musician Mikey McCleary

Mikey McCleary, songwriter and producer from New Zealand, who is known for giving a contemporary twist to classic Hindi tunes, says he’s gradually getting a hang of the language

I’m composing a couple of songs for movies such as Margherita With A Straw, Rohan Sippy’s Sonali Cable and three films being produced by Bejoy Nambiar, including Kukku Mathur Ki Fand Ho Gayi,” Mikey McCleary tells us, in response to our question about the films he’s working on currently.

Mickey McCleary
Mickey McCleary wants to show the timelessness of vintage melodies through his music 

But before we can proceed, he interrupts us further, “Sorry, it’s Kukku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi.” We laugh too, at McCleary’s effort to get the name right, and can’t help but comment on how much his Hindi has improved ever since the New Zealand-based musician made Mumbai his home six years ago. “Yes, my Hindi’s getting better. At this rate, I will be fluent in Hindi in the next four or five years,” he jokes.

For a foreigner, it’s isn’t easy to break through in Bollywood and McCleary says it was a fun challenge for him as well. Starting with a couple of ad jingles, McCleary says he was able to understand the space of Hindi films and the kind of melodies that would connect with the Indian audience. “It’s quite a challenge to be able to write music that will connect with different cultures,” says the musician, who recently composed the background score for Shaadi Ke Side Effects.

But it’s not just films he’s working on. McCleary, who already has a couple of albums to his credit, is nearly ready with his next — an album of his ad jingles! “We’ve included jingles from Vodafone, Lakme, Titan, Levis and others. While the jingles were really short — 30 seconds to 45 seconds each — the longer versions in the album will have new lyrics and melodies, but people will instantly identify with them as they have been played so many times on television,” says McCleary, who’s sung four of the ten songs in the album.

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