Thursday, January 24, 2008

FATHER OF KONKANI FILMS 'AMCHEM NOXIB', 'NIRMONN' FRANK FERNAND

FATHER OF KONKANI FILMS 'AMCHEM NOXIB', 'NIRMONN' FRANK FERNAND NO MORE

By Isidore Dantas
isidordantas at yahoo.co.in

Frank Fernand, the producer and music director of epoch
making Konkani films Amchem Noxib and Nirmonn, breathed his
last at the age of 87 in Mumbai on April 1, 2007 and was
buried the next day at a quiet funeral at Dadar. He is
survived by his wife Maggie, daughters Elfin, Doris, Larissa
and son Max. Many Goan musicians have made it big in Hindi
films, of whom Frank Fernand is one.

Frank Fernandes, popularly known as Frank Fernand, was born
on May 3, 1919 and hails from Curchorem, a small and dusty
mining town and railway station now in the district of South
Goa. He was baptized by the saintly priest Fr. Agnelo de
Souza.

Fernand received his initial training in music at the hands
of the local maestro Diogo Rodrigues, where he could master
violin and trumpet. In 1936, Frank migrated to Mumbai to join
Don Bosco's for studies. His first assignment in music was to
play at Green's Hotel and Taj Mahal Hotel under the
leadership of George Theodore, an East Indian, as the
community of Christians from the region of Bombay (Mumbai) is
known.

In 1942, he left Mumbai for Mussorie to play at Savoy Hotel
under the Rudy Cotton band. It is here that he got a good
opportunity to be a Jazz musician in his band. The same year
he had a brief stint in New Delhi.

Fernand is indebted to our statesman and India's first Prime
Minister the late Jawaharlal Nehru for his Biography and
Discovery of India, which completely changed his outlook. He
considers Nehru to be the great Son of India and is grateful
to him for the orchestration of the National Anthem Jana Gana
Mana. A true patriot, Frank commemorated August 15 as the
biggest event every year.

In 1946, he set for Mumbai to participate in Mickey Correia's
band. The year 1948 saw him joining the film industry as a
musician to the popular music duo, Shankar-Jaikishan. He
proudly recalled his association with the success of
R.K.Films' Raj Kapoor's super hit 'Barsat'. He has had the
privilege to work under the music directors of repute. These
include Kishore Kumar. C.R.Ramchandra, Roshan, and Anil
Biswas.

His last assignment with Kalyanji-Anandji as his first
assistant is fondly remembered by the Hindi Film music
community. He has excelled in musical arrangement for these
film music directors.

In the footsteps of the end of colonial Portuguese rule in
Goa, in keeping with the immense love he had for Konkani and
with the vast knowledge of film craft in his possession, he
launched his first Konkani film 'Amchem Noxib' under the
banner of Frank Films (Goa).

It starred C. Alvares and Anthony Mendes in the main roles.
Apart from being its producer, the film had melodious music
composed by him. This film has cast a magic spell on the
spectators and its immense popularity has brought him
adulation and draws large crowds even today whenever and
wherever it is released.

Some time back, he expressed his gratitude for the patronage
received for this first film, which boosted his enthusiasm.
However, he regretted that Portuguese- and English-speaking
Goans did not appreciate the film and called it cheap.

To counteract this criticism, he produced his second film,
'Nirmonn' based on Lord Tennyson's character Enoch Arden, for
which he set music in his own style. This film had a powerful
story and bagged the Certificate of Merit for regional films,
the first of its kind for Konkani, at the hands of the then
Prime Minister, the late Indira Gandhi.

This film had memorable performance by C. Alvares, Shalini,
Anthony D'Sa and Jacinto Vaz. The lyrics and scenes have been
beautifully captured on mementoes of the films.

'Nirmonn' was remade into Hindi and was entitled 'Taqdeer'
and was directed by A. Salam with Shalini in the lead role.

Besides these two films, Frank has also provide the musical
score to the Konkani film 'Mhoji Ghorkarn' directed by A.
Salam with Shalini, C.Alvares and Jacinto Vaz in the main
leads.

With the success of the two Konkani films, Frank ventured to
produce a Hindi film in 1965 entitled 'Priya', starring
Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja with music by Kalyanji-Anandji. This
film flopped because it was considered an art film by the
audience and not a commercial one.

Not loosing heart, Frank again attempted to produce another
Hindi film 'Ahat' starring Dr. Shriram Lagoo, Jaya Bahaduri,
Vinod Mehra. 'Ahat' inspired by the popular English film
'Wait Until Dark' was made under the banner of Vishal
Gomantak Films with screenplay by G.D.Madgulkar, Kishore Rege
as director and music by himself. The film was over-budgeted
and could not be released because the distributor was
arrested under COFEPOSA. The film has not seen the light of
the day.

Frank has set music to the lyrics of the popular Konkani poet
Dr Manohar Sardesai's 'Fulam Zai', 'Sobit Amchem Goem', for
HMV Recording Co for which he bagged the Bombay Journal
Award. Cine Musicians has honoured him as founder and he was
bestowed the Goan Review Award. His contribution can also be
seen on Konkani discs, for which he has provided musical
score. He has also staged tiatr entitled 'Bekar Patrao' in
the eighties with first time introduction of a ten-piece
orchestra.

He was the first to play classical as Jazz player, and
Trumpet Concheto by Handel under the music maestro Victor
Paranjoti. Audience still remember the concert he organized
in 1958 where he played Evolution of Music, Jazz, starting
with Negro Spirituals, Dixie Land Jazz followed by New
Orleans Jazz, Sound of America commercial music, Symphony
Jazz and Ravi Shankar's Caravan. Frank was suffering from the
dreaded Parkinson's disease since 1985.

(April 2, 2007)

2 comments:

Ana said...

I am trying to get a CD titled 'Songs from Goa' by Evergreen Music. It includes Amchem Noxib, Nirmon, Portuguese Songs. Does

Unknown said...

Very interesting information. I enjoyed Amchem Noxib and Nirmon growing up in the 60s. Thank you for this great write-up and sharing these historical notes.