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Home / India / Remo rage against bankrupt Bharat - Singer rues Bollywood monopoly

Remo rage against bankrupt Bharat - Singer rues Bollywood monopoly

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FREDERICK NORONHA IN PANAJI   |   Panaji   |   Published 25.02.04, 12:00 AM

Remo Fernandes strummed to fame raging against drugs. Years (and a few damp-squib albums) later, the popstar is seething again, this time against “intellectually bankrupt” audiences in India.

The 51-year-old crooner believes listeners have become incapable of understanding or appreciating anything serious. This trend against “anything that is serious” has taken root not just in music, but also cinema, literature and art.

In between tours to Kuwait and the Caribbean, Remo said in an interview published in Panaji: “This whole country, which was once the cradle of deep, high-thinking philosophy and art and literature, seems to have gone intellectually bankrupt, and Bollywood seems to be the beginning and end of life as we know it.”

Incidentally, Remo made it really big after singing in a Bollywood film, Jalwa.

The singer — the first big star on India’s pop horizon — hinted he was disappointed with the response to his recent albums, India Beyond and Symphonic Chants. “So now, as a private joke to myself, maybe I’ll record a remix album of my personal Bollywood favourites,” he said.

“That’ll be my way of saying ‘Feed donkeys with grass, not asparagus’. And I’ll probably write that caption on the inside cover of the album,” Remo added.

It’s not surprising that the pop icon, known for his music in languages ranging from Portuguese to Hindi with strong doses of English and Konkani, has had a flurry of foreign tours this year. He is just back from Kuwait and plans to visit the Caribbean in April-May. Possible concerts with his band, the Microwave Papadums, include visits to San Francisco in May, China in June and the UK in July.

“2004 seems to have brought in a few foreign shows, starting on a ‘foreign’ note! I’m collaborating with a British composer, William Hall Jr, on a new track titled Spectrum,” he said in the interview.

There is greater acceptance of non-western artistes now, he felt. “Unknown countries today have a new generation who can pop and rock with the best from the West while still keeping firm roots in their own cultures,” he said.

But Remo rued the lack of appreciation for serious artistic work in India. “Shobhaa De sells more than Arundhati Roy; David Dhawan’s blockbusters are more watched than Satyajit Ray’s masterpieces,” he said.

Remo has never been conventional, bursting on to the stage with his ponytail and energy-packed performances.

Trained as an architect, he initially struggled to sell his home-produced music, but stayed on in Goa — after a sojourn through Europe in his younger days — before striking gold.

In May 2003, he performed free before some 10,000 fans during a concert he organised for them on completing 50.

“I know some musicians who hide their age. So why am I so happy that I have turned 50? I don’t know, I just feel great. I still feel young and I don’t even dye my hair! I guess it’s just that I enjoy doing my music so much,” he had said.



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