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How a Konkani film reached the Academy Awards

A Konkani movie about two Goan singers is vying for nomination in the Best Background Score category at the Academy Awards. The GUIDE meets its music director Ronnie Monsorate

When a 17-year old Ronnie Monsorate performed with legendry Goan singers Chris Perry and Lorna Cordeiro, he had no idea that a film on their lives will allow his work to be considered at the Oscars. "At that time, I had worked with Chris and Lorna for a year-and-a-half, playing the piano. The film, Nachom-ia Kumpasar, is based on rumours of their relationship and their musical journey. Chris recorded the songs in the film in the 1960s. The recording was outdated so I had to write them again. The background score is original," shares Monsorate from his home in Santacruz.

Vijay Maurya and Palomi Ghosh in the Poster of Nachom-ia Kumpasar
Vijay Maurya and Palomi Ghosh in the Poster of Nachom-ia Kumpasar

The film whose name translates to 'let's dance to the rhythm', is shortlisted for this year's Academy awards (popularly called the Oscars) in the Best Background Score and Best foriegn film category and has already won awards at international film festivals.

A still from the film
A still from the film

"We wanted the background score to be recorded live, as done in that time. The music of the film is Jazz-oriented with elements of Pop and Rock 'n' Roll. That's the kind of music that was popular in nightclubs in the 1960s and, 70s. The songs actually take you step by step through the story, which is based on rumours about the couple and their chemistry. The director, Bardroy Barretto, compiled the songs and that's how the story was written," shares Monsorate. After singing together for nine years and binding her in a 20-year contract that didn't allow her to sing for any other composer or label, Perry left Cordeiro in the mid-70s, to start a music school in Dubai.

Ronnie Monsorate
Ronnie Monsorate

"I helped Lorna sing again. She was bound by a 20-year contract by Chris Perry. When I was in Goa for the release of an album, the media kept asking me about Lorna. It had been a long time, and I hadn't been in touch. I went to meet her in Mumbai and she told me she couldn't sing anymore. She even shut the door on my face. I returned later and convinced her to record a song. She was rusty but I told her she could do it. She was also very scared of the contract. I told her it had been 23. I managed to get hold of the original contract and told her it was no longer valid," reveals Monsorate.

In 1995, Monsorate recorded an album with Cordeiro. "When we released it in Goa at a function that was attended by the state Chief Minister and Remo Fernandes, the audience went berserk. She was also glad that people had accepted her back so warmly. A crowd of about a lakh was at the concert. Chris Perry was alive and in the Gulf then. At that time, I was doing the background score for Vishesh Film's Dastak. When I told Vikram Bhatt about Lorna, he was blown by her story and wanted to meet her and make a film about her life. We even fixed a meeting but Lorna backed out. Later, Bardroy Barretto decided to make a film about her. He too had grown up listening to her music. She was reluctant to talk to him too about anything personal," he shares.

Nachom-ia Kumpasar is one among the three Indian films that have been listed in the Reminder List of Productions for the 88th Academy Awards in 2016. The final awards nominations will be announced on January 14, 2016, while the ceremony will be held on held on February 28 in Los Angeles.

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