WHEN music runs in your veins, you cannot keep it locked up inside for long as Reshmi Kumar has found out. The Fiji-born woman recorded her first album titled “Lost in Your Love” last year in India with the help of a top-notch Bollywood composer and music producer.
Reshmi’s journey to getting her voice heard is extraordinary. Growing up in a home where her father Shiu Kumar Mangal wrote and was a bhajan singer (Hindi religious songs), it was only natural she too would be musically inclined.
But like any other journey, she too has had her fair share of obstacles. Having passed them all she can now add the title of singer to her long resume which includes mother, wife, self-made millionaire, radiographer and financial adviser.
“I love music and I had this dream of recording my album since I was a child. I was born in a very musical family in Sawani near Nausori. My father was a bhajan singer in Fiji,” she said.
“When he recorded his bhajans in Fiji, we all helped with the (sakhis) lines that needed to go with the bhajans.
“My mum was very good at this. People might remember her. We had a barber shop in Stewart St in Suva. Mum and dad worked very hard to raise us.
“I grew up in Sawani, attended Dilkusha Girls School and Adi Cakobau School.”
Watch Reshmi’s title track “Deewana Mera Dil” (Lost in your love)
She studied radiography at the then Fiji School of Medicine and worked at CWM Hospital for a few months before migrating to Australia with her husband in 1997.
“Once I moved to Australia, I found it very difficult to connect with people in the music arena. Everyone was too busy plus I found it to be very male-dominated,” she added.
“When we migrated, we really wanted to make the most of the opportunity this country had to offer. I realised life here was like a system, like a process, it wasn’t like how it was back at home. In a country like Australia, we found people were still struggling.
“If we didn’t do anything different we would be struggling too so what would be the benefit of coming here. It was heartbreaking to see mothers dropping their little children early in the morning to childcare centres so that they could go to work.
“We certainly didn’t want to do that. We had to be financially independent if we were not to fall in that system.”
With $4500 in their pockets, Reshmi and her husband thought very carefully before making their next step.
“We read a lot of books and wealth magazines and found that most of the people had real estate as the foundation of their wealth. From then on we decided to invest in property. We had come from Fiji with only $4500,” she said.
“We were lucky enough to get employment straightaway. We started saving for the deposit and bought our home the same year. Then we started investing, which then led us to start a business in finance and allowed me to quit radiography altogether.”
It was this hard work that led Reshmi and her family to become financially stable and this led to her realising her musical aspiration.
“I met Nikhil Kamath, the renowned music composer on my first visit to India in 2005. He heard me sing a few lines and said he was happy to do my album. I was so happy to hear that, however I had to put it on hold,” said Reshmi.
“I wasn’t willing to put financial strain on ourselves in order to do the album while we were still establishing ourselves.
“It was also time to start a family and that became my first priority. It was stressful for me knowing that something I so much wanted in my life is very possible and yet I have to wait.
“I spent the time nurturing my young family and knew that in a few years I’d be in a much better position to make this dream come true.”
When everything was in order, Reshmi could move forward with her album.
“I got back in touch with Nikhil in December, 2014 and wanted to do the recoding in July of 2015. Having a young family, I had to bring it forward as my family is my biggest priority, and I didn’t want to disrupt the children’s school life,” Reshmi said.
“I went to India in Jan 2015 and finally recorded the album. It was interesting to see that I went back to India on the same day exactly 10 years later. It was as if time had stopped for 10 years and we just continued from there upon returning.”
The album is done and Reshmi is hoping Fijians and music lovers will support her. She can be found on Facebook and people can get a sample of her tunes from her page.
“I would like to say to everyone to never give up on your dreams. Write your goals and take small steps. You may come across hurdles, you may have to make sacrifices but stay focused and never give up. You may find people who are willing to help once you know exactly what you want,” says the woman who has found success in the land where people are struggling.
Music in her veins
By Shalveen Chand
The Fiji Times, Sunday, March 06, 2016