The King of Melody
In the world of Tiatr and Konkani music, there's no one quite like Alfred Rose, says Isidore Dantas, in a profile of the singing star.
Remember, the singer with a Panama hat on his head and a magic wand in his hand delivering the opening song for tiatrs in English-Konkani in the '60s? He is none other than Alfred Rose who has earned the sobriquets of Goa's Melody King", The Man with the Golden Voice" (courtesy His Master's Voice Recording Company), Konkani Ambassador", International Superstar". To the Goans he is The Living Legend of Konkani Music".
Rosario Alfred Fernandes - his real name, was born in the picturesque village of Calvim, Aldona, on 5 August 1932. He is the proud son of the illustrious character-actor of yore, Ambrose Fernandes (Ambrose was named AMB Rose by the Karachi Jesuits). This actor, who has six decades of popularity to his credit was christened Junior Rose by the versatile Konkani tiatrist C Alvares, because he was the youngest among the actors during his debut in Konkani tiatr way back in 1943. Rose, who has made his village proud by carving a niche among the Goans in the field of music, later changed his name to Alfred Rose in 1952.
He was first seen in Miss Ida's (Jose Mendes) drama where he sang the solo Kiteak jiv khatai? The well known konkani dramatist JP Souzalin, known for his plays on religious themes, introduced Alfred in his Poilea Cheddeachem Baltim staged at the Princess Theatre, Bhangwadi, Dhobitalao, Mumbai, a nursery of Konkani drama. He is one of the few educated tiatrists, having completed the CAIIB (Banking professional examination) after passing the SSC Examination. He had brief stints with National Overseas & Grindlays Bank Ltd and Larsen & Toubro. He had also served at Citi Bank in the Gulf in the year 1970.
There was a time when tiatrs were looked down on by the hoi-polloi because of the base fare they presented. Alfred resurrected the tiatr scene by composing and rendering educative and decent presentations. His first drama Hench tem Karann was staged in 1956.
Being the cynosure of numerous ardent fans, he has many firsts to his credit. Alfred was the first to stage a Konkani tiatr at Birla Matoshri Hall, Dhobitalao, Mumbai. He has the distinction of publishing fourteen song books containing lyrics of the numerous songs he has cut on disc. His novel Vingans Monte Cristochem, based on the famous novel of Alexander Dumas, has highlighted the role of our very own father of hypnotism - Abade Faria. His novels include Munis vo Devchar, which is based on his drama by the same title. The only person to my knowledge to publish comics in Konkani is Alfred Rose. The book is entitled Zomnintli Bhirant. He introduced the concept of non-stop drama in Konkani with his presentation of Director Saib in 1961, which included twenty seven songs relevant to the story of the drama, making its presentation look like a film. For this he bagged the Bombay Mayor's Medal. He was the first to compose a song on Mother Teresa way back in 1981, which features in his Audio Cassette Album No 2. He also has the distinction of presenting the first non-stop Rock Musical Show with sound track on stage, which no singer English or Konkani has done. The audience remembers with affection the tribute paid by him in song on the stage to the late tiatrist Souza Ferrao during the latter's lifetime accompanying him. Flowers was the first song rendered by a tiatrist in English composed and sung by him. He was the first tiatrist to record an English song A Date with Daisy on disc.
This ace musician has provided the musical score to the Konkani film Boglantt, starring Prem Kumar with his better-half Rita Rose - herself a very good singer. He has performed in the Konkani film Amchem Noxib which has the English song I Lost my Heart to You as his composition. The Hindi film Love in Goa has music composed by him. He was the leader of the band Rosebuds in the '50s. Alfred, who is at ease with the violin and guitar, has his songs sung by eminent singers Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh and Krishna Kalle.
The thirteen tiatrs to his credit include Nirmon vo Formonn, Lakhpoti Novro, Dotor-Advogad, Natalanchi Bhett, Bhangaracho Hoti, Angounnechi Hokol, Pessaumkar… the last being Somestancho Kumpar. He has been a writer of repute and has contributed regularly to the now defunct Konkani weeklies published from Mumbai, Soth-Uloi and Cine Times.
Among the awards and plaudits earned by him, mention must be made of the Cross International Award, Mumbai. Mangalore's Mandd Sobhann has bestowed on him the title of Sangitsagar. He has also been honoured with a gold medal in the Gulf for this composition of the song Kotta Kuwait based on the 1990 Kuwait war. An audio cassette by Video World Production entitled Bhangaracho Tallo is a tribute to this versatile artist.
Besides his performance in India, he has performed abroad in Africa (1960), Germany, France, Canada, the UK and the Gulf, to the immense satisfaction of the audience. Alfred has also been featured on All India Radio and Doordarshan.Alfred had a great desire to perform internationally and had successfully tested for BBC and ATV, but during those days Goans were called Portuguese and considered aliens because of which he had difficulty in staying abroad and therefore he had to give up the idea.
The epitome of popular songs, this gifted clairvoyant has to his credit the unforgettable Tin Molladik Hatiaram namely sui, sut, kator - the three important tools of the tailors; Pai, which desribes the goodness of the father; Goenkar vo Mungllurkar, Ami sogle Konknne, depicting unity of the Konkani-speaking areas; Saddi, which cleverly brings out the virtues of the sari; Ixtt, personifying the real friend; Dev Nidonk Na, which reminds us of the watchful eye of the Almighty on us; Kalchi Koddi, which brings nostalgia of the curry to be preserved for posterity and Poilea Cheddeamchem baltim, which teaches us to sing litany in Konkani which hitherto was sung in Latin and Portuguese without understanding its contents. Pain Korun na tem has contributed in the moulding of an ordinary Goan into an industrialist.
Besides tiatrs, Alfred has performed six musical shows, composed and sung five thousand songs out of which fifteen hundred are in English in his soprano voice, has 400 extended and long playing records and 39 audio cassettes. His album Londonacho Mog has been recorded in London.
Among his English-Konkani songs, mention must be made of Mandovi, Lighthouse, A date with Daisy, Luiza the Bombshell, Viva la Goa. His songs in Hindu style include Bamnali Pori, Savkaralo Por, Chander Vati, Ago mhoje Sundorea, Patovantli Kunvor, Goreta gheun gori…
According to him, Konkani dramas do have a future and primarily requires people who know the language to encourage it by patronising the same rather than pay lip sympathy. He laments that tiatrs have stopped not because of the disunity among the tiatrists but because of the audience who find it costly. The fare is unable to match the increasing production costs and is therefore not a paying proposition for the tiatrists. Alfred Rose has woven a rich tapestry of composition in the woof and warp of Konkani music and therefore rightly deserves a befitting recognition from the government.