Radhika's Diaries

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‘I sit, I think, I write my story of longing, of long ago.

I try to fit a lifetime in hundred and fifty thousand words, blow by blow.’

The above words are from the album – Keep the Faith, by Remo Fernandes.

I am participating in the A to Z writing challenge and my theme for the 2022 edition of the challenge is Goa. We’re on day 18 and it’s the letter R for my absolute favourite – Remo Fernandes, the Indian/Portuguese singer, who is known as the pioneer of the Indian pop music scene.

With a name as long and impressive as his achievements, Luis Remo de Maria Bernardo Fernandes from Siolim in Goa, is a legend. A relatively unknown artist in the 70’s outside of Goa, Remo would very soon go on to become a national craze with several blockbuster hits to his credit in English, Hindi pop and Bollywood music too.

Remo’s childhood years were from the times when Portuguese was the language of the place and he was pretty much influenced by it. It was his father who recognised his musical abilities at the age of 7 and he held his 1st guitar at the age of 9. By 14 years, he had already written his first songs and won prizes for best composer, best vocalist and best lead guitarist in musical competitions in Goa.

From the initial years of his childhood when he was banned from even listening to or playing music, by his grandfather Dr. Bailon Fernandes, Remo came a long way when he became a musical icon in the whole of India by the 1980’s. He was particularly well known around the country for his ‘Flute song’ and ‘O meri munni’. But by then he had already gone global and was singing with Ian Anderson, the legendary leader of Jethro Tull, the British rock band.

And then Bollywood a-calling. In Remo’s own words, “Here I was doing my thing (writing songs and singing them in English, Konkani and Portuguese), when Gul Anand came to me for Jalwa (released in 1987) and in the same year Shyam Benegal for Trikaal and suddenly the film world opened up.”

Winner of the Padmashri in 2007, Remo’s Hindi, English, Portuguese, Konkani pop, rock, fusion and film songs were lapped up by the Indian audience, earning him Gold, Platinum and Double Platinum Discs. And while we’re on the topic – Remo Fernandes is the lead voice in A.R. Rehman’s super hit song Humma Humma in the Hindi remake of Bombay. Surprised? I know, I was too, when I became aware of it, quite some time after the song had become a super hit number! I went back and listened to the song again and there it was – Remo’s signature lilting style beautifully set against Rehman’s signature catchy composition. How could I have missed it the first time around?

Following his motto ‘Have guitar will travel’, Remo has travelled extensively all over India and abroad and has performed with internationally famous groups as Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and Queen.

Interestingly, Remo Fernandes started off as a one-man band and he recorded his 1st album Goan Crazy in 1984 in his home in Siolim. He played all the instruments, sang all voices, and was the solo composer of its lyrics and music. He did the recording and mixing and even the album covers. He got the cassettes produced In Bombay and back in Goa he personally zipped around Goa on his yellow scooter, going from shop to shop distributing them.

And how did he manage to finance all this? In one of his local interviews, he mentions that in his early days, he would travel around Europe with his guitar and flute and play and sing on street corners, saving up his earnings for his equipment and for his dream. Remo truly gave meaning to the words ‘the road to success is paved with hard work and determination!”

Apart from his ancestral home in Siolim, in the Bardez taluk of Goa, Remo also owned a beautiful villa just off the Miramar beach junction in Panjim, called Ben Ferds. It was very close to the college I graduated from – the Dhempe College of Arts and Science. Right outside his house, almost at the front gate, was our bus stop where we would wait after class to catch the bus back to the city.

But we hardly ever saw him around as he preferred the relative privacy and quiet of his Siolim home.

However, I did get to meet the legend once through my father who was the consulting physician for Remo’s mother. We happened to be at a cultural event where Remo Fernandes had dropped in for a courtesy visit and he came up to say a few words to the dad. I don’t really remember if I asked for a picture with him or it was the other way around. Or it could even have been my dad’s doing but soon I was standing rigidly next to the by-then-already-world-famous celebrity singer. It being those times when there was no luxury of mobile phones which we could whip out for an instant photograph when caught with a celebrity, we had to wait around for the official photographer of the event to take our pic. That guy took his own sweet time getting to us, making me all the more embarrassed and nervous with each passing moment.

The camera man finally sauntered up, he was asked to capture the precious moment and we looked into the camera and smiled. That is, Remo did. I didn’t. I was so self-conscious. Then what happens? Remo signals to the cameraman to wait and turns to me and tells me, “You may smile, it’s just a picture, not a performance on stage.”

I chuckled at that, the camera went ‘click’ and the result was a lovely photograph of me and Remo Fernandes, Goa’s musical legend.

And where’s the evidence to this tall claim? You may well ask! The precious photograph has been misplaced unfortunately, but rest assured, I speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth here, milor’!

Dev Boren Korun – God bless you!

This is part of the #BlogchatterA2Z.

The last edition of this challenge when I participated in 2019 gave me a collection of 26 hilarious posts about a fictitious JP family, which were subsequently published as a very popular paperback – The Adventures of the JP family.

6 thoughts on “R – Remo Fernandes, Goa’s musical icon

  1. Satish Karanth says:

    We trust you for your photo with Remo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Some trust and faith goes a long way! 😀😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Harshita says:

    Oh I love Remo. I remember seeing him in Trikaal and loving it! And yes, I do believe you!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Swarnali Nath says:

    You won’t believe when I read the opening lines, I had goosebumps. How insightful they are! Glad to read about him.

    Liked by 2 people

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