Beyond the Goan rhapsody
They don’t make them like him anymore! Remo Fernandes’ distinct style and voice had an entire generation swaying to his tune. And still is. So as they say, he is never too old to rock! And never too late to act, perhaps. The musician from Goa will be seen in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Bombay Velvet’, where he has acted and not just crooned.†††
While films are not something new for Remo, ‘Bombay Velvet’ was a different take altogether. “This is my first acting role, where I am not singing, where I have lines to say. When I was initially asked to do the film, I laughed and said ‘No’. But the casting director insisted and then I thought, ‘This is something new and adventurous. And this is the right time to do it’,” he says.
However, he admits, he never nursed the desire to act. He never wanted to be a hero. “When I was a kid, I had to be in a school play. My role was to run after a little girl on stage. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t want to go on stage. Later on, when I turned teenager, my dad and mom would tease me by saying, ‘Now you can’t stop following girls’, he laughs. “Now that I am older, I just find films interesting to do,” he says.
Remo writes and sings in English. His influences are rich and varied, and inspiration comes from his travels too. He made his mark in Bollywood too with Dekho Dekho Ye Hai Jalwa, Humma Humma and more recently ‘David’.
Remo’s live performances are zestful. “Even when I am performing, there is acting involved. When I am interacting with the audience, I’ve to bring in elements of surprise and crack jokes. But I am acting as myself, as Remo. The challenge in films is that I’ve to get under the skin of the character,” he says.
“In ‘Bombay Velvet’, I play an aristocrat of the Portuguese age, passionate about music and horse riding. There are such people in Goa and I’ve seen them, so it was not difficult getting into the role. My fluency in Portuguese helped, I knew what my character had to speak,” adds the Padma Shri awardee.
Did he enjoy composing for ‘David’? “Absolutely”, he says, ‘The Lighthouse Symphony’ was the number I composed. I arranged music for Maria Pitache. It’s a folk song from Daman. It’s so wonderful that I thought it should go out to the whole country.” Last year, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had appointed Remo to urge the youth in Goa to vote. “I was called the youth voting icon by the ECI and I had done a song urging the Goan people to vote. And people came out to vote and they attributed it to the song,” he adds
The musician, who loves scripting, directing and editing his own music videos, also talks about the music scenario, he says, “Today, we only remember hits of yesterday. We think all music of the past is good. In every generation, there is good and bad stuff, the good ones live on. Even in Western Classical, not all symphonies of Bach and Mozart do we remember. The good ones remain as classics,” he says.
“In the end, the inspiration has to come from the composer. When a composition has nothing to offer from the heart and soul, it relies on technology. It then falls on the wayside. For a song to be memorable, it has to touch one’s heart and soul,” he adds.