There are various examples now a day whereby the movies are made on the true life stories of people. Making the film on the life of the person who is well known and achieved the tremendous name and fame is very common today. But making the movie on the life of someone that been barely acknowledged for his or her great work during is very rare. This is the story of the unsung musicians who devoted their lives to the music and contributed the lion’s share towards the shaping of Bombay’s music industry. It is also the story of The bittersweet relationship between a young singer and her musician mentor which is featured on the screen by Bardroy Barretto, the talented Goan director of a movie “Nachom-ia Kumpasar”.
Nachom-ia Kumpasar is made on the backdrop of the jazz clubs of Bombay and the musicians from Goa during the 60s. It is the part of the true story of Goa’s legendary music couple, Lorna Cordeiro, and Christopher Pereira better known as Chris Perry. The title of the movie “Nachom-ia Kumpasar” has been derived from the name of the song sung by Lorna and Chris.
Although the movie is based on the love story of a young crooner and her musician mentor against the backdrop of the jazz clubs of Bombay and the musicians from Goa during the 60s, but it has much more to tell the world besides just one love story. The movie takes you through the roller coaster ride of the relationship between Lawry and Dona (Chris and Lorna) while showing the bitter side of the music and film industry existed then in Bombay. It shows how the talented musicians from Goa had been exploited by some of the well know musicians from the Bombay film industry. The story also displays the booming of nightclubs in Mumbai its rise and fall from 1960 to 1970.
In this story, a young Goan musician Lawry (Chris) playing in the nightclubs of Mumbai comes to Goa in the search of female crooner and finds Dona (Lorna) highly impressionable and vivacious to the core. The process of molding of Dona into the talented star singer starts in Mumbai where they (Lowry and Dona) falls in love with each other. Despite realizing that the relationship has no destination, as the Larry is already married; Dona decides to continue with the relationship since she is unable to hold herself back. The emotional rollercoaster of the love story ends up in the tragedy. The only person suffers here in this story is the Dona, who loses everything including her bright future and goes into the obscurity.
Lawry plays his cards well and makes sure that Dona does not sing with any other musician if she does not sing in his band. He beats up the people who try to give the opportunity to Dona for singing in their bands. This makes her life more disastrous and she completely remains aloof from the entire world of music for years.
This Quasi-Biographical movie has the much better version of the story than the actual life tasted by the singer in the real world. In one of her interview in The Telegraph Calcutta Edition of 4th January 2015, Lorna mentions that she has forgiven Chris Perry for what he has done to her. “I will never find another person like Chris, a genius who is imitated to this day,” Lorna mentions in the interview. This shows how much she loved him and still does. In this interview which was conducted by the Telegraph journalist Reena Martins, Lorna puts the light on many facts of her real life story which is connected with Chris as well as this movie.
Lorna, the woman with golden voice lives in Mumbai’s Dhobitalao area which was once filled up with Irani cafes. Goan musicians used to frequent the places. But with the time, everything washed out. The trend of live music died in the 1970s. According to the reports, Lorna does not like to meet press much. But when the writer of the article in The Telegraph Reena Martins met Lorna at her sparsely furnished apartment in Dhobitalao the facts related to Lorna’s life started coming into the light. The following story will take you through the facts and the fictions of the Biopic “Nachom-ia Kumpasar” made on her life.
Lorna recalls that how Chris first heard about her, “It was the performance I gave under the Mango Tree with Raymond Albuquerque and his band at the Bandra fair, the song was from the James Bond flick Dr. No.” she continues, “then he was searching for the female crooner. I gave an audition for him and He said ‘Today a star is born in Saligao (her village in Goa). I no longer have to look for another singer,'” she narrated. The writer claims here that “Lorna’s story is an incredible roller coaster ride of a tale: she touched the stars and was flung back to the ground, only to rise again.”
Lorna’s voice throw was incredible (and still it is) as a young girl, she sang along with the radio, “So loud, I could blow the roof off” she recalls. An old Parsi neighbor would clap and gift her four annas (the coins denomination in those days, 25% of one rupee). “My girl, one day you’ll be a big singer,” he’d often say. Before coming in contact with Chris, Lorna used to sing for the weddings and the local band known as Bajaj and his Dance Band, till then her life was simple and income was good, claims the writer.
The things started changing when Chris (Larry in the movie) discovered her and made her the female crooner in his band. “I only had a voice; it has Chris who molded me,” she says. “He’d hit me on the back if I slouched, and used to tell me how to move around the stage.” Chris played the trumpet while she – in a slim silken gown and bouffant wig – sang jazz in the nightclub circuit: Venice and the Blue Nile in Mumbai; Lido and Gaylord in Delhi; and Firpo’s in Calcutta.
Slowly the chemistry between Lorna and Chris (who was married then with 4 children) started developing so much so that they came closer crossing all the limits. “Chris wouldn’t let any of us chat or laugh with her,” recalls Ronnie Monserrate, music director of Nachomiya Kumpasar, whose band does a “tightrope walk” syncing with Chris’s music tracks recorded from live shows for the film. Lorna claims here that she was in the relationship with Chris “But even if we were in a relationship, so what? Wasn’t it happening then? Doesn’t it happen now,” Lorna asks.
Chris, on the other hand, was the gifted trumpet player and musician but like all others, he has his own weaknesses. Chris was a very hard taskmaster. A falsetto would invite a shower of abuse or even worse. “Musicians who’ve played with Chris tell me that he’d slap or even stub cigarettes on the palm if you hit a wrong note,” says Vijay Maurya, a Mumbai-based adman who plays Larry in the film. Chris was very talented indeed, he was capable of scribing the lyrics sitting anywhere sometimes even on the backseat of the cab says, Lorna. The songs spoke of love, longing, and betrayal. “It’s as though he knew what he would put me through,” she muses.
Chris dumped her and moved to Dubai to start the music school there in the seventies, at that time Lorna was left alone with no bank balance, a broken spirit and body claims the writer. Monserrate says she had to take up a job as a compounder at a dentist’s clinic. And she stopped singing. “I did not even hum a tune in all those years,” she says. “Chris beat up any musician who tried to get me to sing or any man who wanted to marry me. He ruined me. I lost my youth. I can’t imagine where I would have reached had I continued singing,” says Lorna.
The situation changed when Lorna made her comeback in The nineties, persuaded by Monserrate who was the part of a Chris’s band in the seventies. Monserrate decided to visit Lorna one evening, but he did not ring the bell fearing that she might slam to door on his face. “I stood outside her door and whistled a little tune that is a code among musicians,” he says. When finally Lorna opened the door Monserrate stunned to see her state. According to Monserrate, the hard time and Alcohol had battered her body “I thought there was no way she could come back from such a terrible state,” he says.
But when he asked her to sing a Konkani song for old times’ sake, he found that the embers were still alive. For the six months, he would drive from Bandra to Dhobitalao with his keyboards after work for nightly practice sessions for a show that was to be called Hello Lorna, claims the writer.
The comeback wasn’t easy either. On the night of the show at the Miramar beach in Goa on December 1, 1995, Chris suddenly came to Lorna’s hotel lobby. He brandished before the waiting press a 20-year-long bond that barred her from singing with any musician besides him, says Lorna. The band chickened out and a new set of musicians had to be hired for the concert. “I was escorted to the venue and back in a police van,” she remembers. Backstage, she sweated beads, till the opening lines of her Konkani song, Aikat mozo tavo (Listen to my voice), drove the sea of heads berserk, Monserrate adds. As she headed to the hotel after two songs, traffic was still snaking towards the venue. “People were curious because of rumors that I was dead,” Lorna says.
Hello, Lorna set the stage for her comeback, and she has since then been singing in England, Canada, and the Gulf. “I have a lot of masti (zest) in me and enjoy the audience. Many of them cry as I sing. But before they cry, I have to feel the pain.” As for the man who taught her to move about on stage, “I have forgiven him.”