Saturday, September 4, 2010

From Bollywood to Konkani films, making sweet music


Having worked as assistant music director for Bollwood greats like Kalyanji Anandji and being a part of musical masterpieces like ‘Meri desh ki dharti’ and ‘Pal Pal dil ke pas’ Balthazar Fernandes, aka Baltu, from Goa speaks of his tryst as a first time music director for a Konkani film. He looks back on his journey in Bollywood.
‘Tum kito kortolo aslo’ is your first Konkani film as music director. Tell us something about the music?
This will be my first Konkani film as music director, but I have earlier worked as assistant music director for Frank Fernand for Konkani classics like ‘Amche Noxib’ and ‘Nirmon’. The music for this film has been composed for an orchestra. Around 40 local musicians are part of the ensemble. The music has a Goan feel with a lot of Goan music elements like harmony, counter-point, counter-melody and chorus.
What was the reason for such a massive music set up?
It is different when you listen to music played by an orchestra. I wanted to show how orchestra music is possible for a film. To get type of music, you need to play in an orchestra. In India there are not many orchestras. In fact you can count them on your fingers tips.
What Bollywood assignments are you currently working on?
I now have fewer assignments. Now just about anybody gets into music direction. In many cases, the music is created by one man on the keyboard. Till today, whenever I listen to an orchestra, I have tears in my eyes. It is not the same when you hear other music.
Many Goans have played pivotal roles in Bollywood in the early 70s. Sadly, not many have got recognition for their contribution. Comment.
Indian music is different. It is based more on melody. The rhythm is important. On the other hand Goan music has counter harmony and harmony which not many understand. I worked as an assistant music director for Anandji-Kalyanji, but my name never appeared in the credit scroll. The payment was not good either, and that is what compelled me to quit after working with them for 11 years.
Do Goans still dominate the music scene in Mumbai like they did once before?
Now there are many educated musicians on the scene. They know how to write Indian music. They do it in a simple style. A lot of students are also studying counter point. There are many Goans but there are also many musicians from other states.
What have you to say about the lack of originality on the Goan music scenario?
Goans are talented; unfortunately something has gone wrong. Music is there in our blood. Goans will appreciate music more than the others do. The Goan school of music or Church schools where solfege was taught are no longer there. Music is neglected in schools. The entire system of education has changed.
Could you suggest steps to bring about improvement?
We have to teach music right from the primary level. Children must not learn by rote. Be it drama or church, they must be given a chance to perform in public. This is what I would advise them.
Could you tell us something about your own journey in the music industry?
I learnt in the Goan school of music. If not for it, I would not have been what I am. I learnt the violin from foreign teachers in Mumbai. I later taught brass bands in schools. Then I got a break in the Hindi film industry.
What was it like to work in the Bombay film industry?
To be frank, I did not enjoy it. It is not my kind of music. But you got to earn your bread.
Do you have plans of relocating to Goa?
Yes. Although, I am stationed in Mumbai, Chorao is my native place. I come every six months to Goa. On my visits, I do a lot of music with the church and the children from my village.

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A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.