Bollywood Swallowed up Pop: Remo Fernandes
MUMBAI (IANS) – For someone whose introduction to rock music was at the age of seven, when a cousin brought the album ‘Rock Around the Clock’ from abroad, Goa and Portuguese-based singer and musician Remo Fernandes admits that unlike many of sensations that disappeared in a year or two from public memory, he has somehow remained in people’s consciousness.
“I do not even try and analyze the how and why of it, of course, I remain eternally grateful. Maybe it is to do with the fact that I have stayed true to my art and rooted in my beliefs, and the audience can sense a truth in my songs. Remember, I was not doing disco just because it was fashionable or ghazals for the reason that they were in trend,” he said.
Talk to him about how the vibrant pop scene of the 80s and 90s in India suddenly crashed, and Fernandes, who brought an Indian element to his music with sitar/guitar and taught himself to play the Indian flute, says it happened when Bollywood decided to borrow talent from pop culture.
“And the pop world happily relaunched itself. There a re so many pop and rock singers whose songs you’ll find in films but t hat doesn’t mean they become music directors — and it’s here I think that spelt the death of the pop scene as everyone went into the Hindi film industry. Bollywood is like a huge monster capturing art forms and letting them out as films,” says the musician whose work is a fusion of many different cultures and styles.
Never inclined to work in Bollywood, Fernandes says that the one song he did, just fell into his lap. “I never shifted to Bollywood. Frankly, I did not even attend the premiere of ‘Jalwa’. It was never really my thing. For me, it has always been about writing my own songs and in the language, I know. Of course, it is a handicap not knowing Hindi to reach out to the masses.”
Fernandes, who was at the recently-concluded Jaipur Literature Festival for ‘Remo: The Autobiography of Remo Fernandes’, which encompass his school days in Goa, times spent in an architecture college in Mumbai, hitchhiking in Europe and Africa, and anecdotes as a professional musician; says that he has always enjoyed reading autobiographies.
“But that is not the reason why I wrote mine. I felt that I had some interesting stories to tell. I started writing about the Goa I grew up in because I read books that were written about the olden times there and none of them rang true to me except one. Many famous Goans did not want to be known from that state as they felt embarrassed. And then, suddenly when Goa became fashionable, everyone wanted to be known as hailing from there. I was born there and I thought that if I do not write about it, who will?”
Lamenting that the Goa he grew up in does not exist anymore, he says: “It is heartbreaking. The changes are not for the better. It is tough to look at how nature has been systematically crushed. The place I grew up in didn’t know the existence of iron grills on windows. And now there is a rape or a murder almost every day there. That is the reason that I spend half my year in Portugal and the other half in Goa.”
Though not planning to write another book anytime soon, he adds: “I am not a professional writer, but if a subject touches me deeply, then maybe…”