Interview Remo Fernandes says that he has put his self consciousness behind him and enjoyed his role as a Portuguese lover of the arts in Anurag Kashyap’s latest film, Bombay Velvet
It’s difficult to picture Remo Fernandes without a musical instrument in his hand but that’s what Anurag Kashyap’s 2014 film, Bombay Velvet , has in store for Fernandes. Playing a Portuguese man from the 1950s with a love for the arts, Remo says there was very little preparation for the role. “I grew up with people around me who were great lovers of the arts – family and my parents’ friends. I knew people who dressed that way, who talked that way – very, very formal. It came to me naturally.” Excerpts from an interview:
You said before that you were always slightly self-conscious to act. Were there similar apprehensions when you started out as a musician?
I had no apprehensions. The feeling of being a musician was always there in my mind – ever since I was a small kid. I went up on stage when I was five or six and my dad encouraged me in music like crazy, right from the beginning. It was almost like a natural thing to go on stage and perform for people. But acting! When I was in the first standard, it was a school play. My dad took me for my first rehearsal and in that scene I had to run after a little girl. At that age, last thing you want to do is run after girls! I think that put me off acting.
How did you land the role in Bombay Velvet ?
It just came out of the blue. I just happen to be in Mumbai and I got a call from the casting director of Bombay Velvet asking me whether I’d do the role. I said, ‘I’m sorry but I’m not an actor. I’ll suggest some Goan names, if you need someone who speaks Portuguese.’
But they insisted and I thought, ‘why not?’ They seem to have the confidence that I could handle the role. After all, over the years, I have been making music videos, which, to some extent, is also a bit of acting. One, two, three and you sing that verse. So why not give it a try? I found out that I loved it (laughs).
Anurag Kashyap has said you must act more from now. What kind of roles are you looking at?
It’s a bit premature to say I’m looking at roles. This is the first one and I enjoyed doing it. And after the film comes out, if people enjoy it – it’s a very small role – and if at all it gets noticed and if I do get other offers I would love to take them up. But I think, at my age, I would get more serious roles; certainly not the hero who rescues people and flies a helicopter and crashes and stuff like that. I know there are a lot who try to cross over. Now the roles I get could be much more interesting. When I say interesting, I mean, this one (in Bombay Velvet ) has a few layers to it. He’s a very nice guy, but underneath, there’s a current where he comes across as not such a nice guy. That’s the thing that excites me.
Are you providing any music for Bombay Velvet ?
Absolutely not. It’s purely an acting role. I must say, in Jalwa , I had a couple of dialogues to deliver and boy, was I nervous! Plus, it was in Hindi. At that time, I wasn’t at ease with Hindi.
It was all that anxiety from the first standard school play coming back?
Yes, you’re right. It was a great anxiety. I had to deliver lines to Naseeruddin Shah and I was so anxious about it. But in Bombay Velvet my lines are in Portuguese. I’m absolutely at ease with my own language. I could say whatever I had to in my own words. I didn’t have to learn anything.
What other projects are you working on?
I did a song for Kaizad Gustad’s new film, called Jackpot , and that has not yet released. It’s different compared to all the songs I’ve been doing lately. I’ve always been asked to do very Goa-oriented songs in David and other films. But here, it’s a hip hop-oriented track.
And what about your solo music?
I’ve finished re-recording my first pop album. Some of these were recorded about 30 years ago, in 1983. In that album, I had started giving warnings about the way Goa was 30 years ago – because that is when I saw the first high-rise being built on the beach, the first rice fields being covered with a block of flats. When the first buildings come up, nobody notices, nobody says anything about it. Also, my equipment and knowledge of recording wasn’t all that good that time and this album is a favourite for Goans. It’s a very Goa-centric album and I wanted to leave it behind in better quality. Today, Goa is known by people all over India and across the world. So maybe other people, apart from Goans, will take notice of it.ANURAG TAGAT
I was in first standard, it was a school play. in the scene I had to run after a little girl. At that age, the last thing you want to do is run after girls! I think that put me off acting