A tempestuous love story of a musician, Lawrence Vaz (Vijay Maurya), and his singer-muse, Dona Pereira (Palomi Ghosh), in 1960s and 70s Bombay.
Anyone and everyone from Goa is familiar with Chris Perry and Lorna Cordeiro and the magical music they made together in the world of Konkani Jazz. Perry not only discovered Cordeiro, but made her the darling of Bombay’s Night Club scene in the 1960s and early ’70s. Married and a father, Perry and Cordeiro shared a highly volatile and stormy relationship, which forms the basis of filmmaker Bardroy Barretto’s Konkani film, Nachom-ia Kumpasar (Let’s Dance To The Rhythm).
This crowd-funded film is clearly a labor of love for Barretto and it shows in the loving and meticulous care with which he has made the film. He did seek Cordeiro’s permission to make a biopic on her life, but she refused, being uncomfortable with the idea. Barretto then fictionalized the film and re-recorded Lorna’s iconic songs. The film, consequently, boasts of one of the finest soundtracks one has heard in recent times and the songs are re-recorded beautifully, keeping the time and milieu of the film in mind. Barretto takes great care with his selection of songs and has integrated them within the main events of the film rather well. Their picturizatons too lend a mood and feel that adds to the film’s viewing experience. That said, perhaps using more or less complete songs each time they come on the screen do lend the film that little air of indulgence on Barretto’s part. As does the reference to the Hindi film industry’s treatment of Goan musicians, which though true, seems out of place with the rest of the film and its main track. Otherwise, Barretto shows a fine control on his storytelling and this is apparent in his treatment of the obvious and big moments in the film, which he handles with admirable restraint, often in long static takes with characters distanced from the viewers. The dialogues are smart and well-written and little moments of humor are etched out well, within the drama of the main love story.
Palomi Ghosh is the life and soul of the film. It is easily one of the finest performances I have seen from an actress in recent times. She is electric and owns the screen each time she is on it. Her body language and character graph is flawless be it from the wistful, young girl feeling the early flush of musical success and first love, to the hardening up of her character as things go sour between her and Vijay Maurya. She has mouthed and performed the songs beautifully and overall, it’s a performance she can be well proud of. This, when Konkani is not even her language. Though she got a special mention from the jury at the recently announced National Awards, I have to say it is the better performance when compared to the eventual Best Actress winner, Kangna Ranaut, good though she is in Queen.
Vijay Maurya has his moments but suffers from comparatively weaker writing and hence, also an inconsistent characterization. Also, Barretto has downplayed his volatile nature, thus robbing the Lawrence-Dona relationship of that extra layer and complexity.
The technicalities are adequate and as mentioned, the songs, their arrangements and re-recording are easily the highlight of the film. The singer, who has rendered Lorna’s songs, has to be lauded. If only the background score had as much work and thought on it as the attention to detail paid to the songs, it could have lifted the film even higher. Though looking at obvious budget constraints, Nachom-ia Kumpasar, the most expensive Konkani film to date, nevertheless recreates its period cleverly and lovingly by finding the right locales and by and large, staying indoors.
The film has followed an alternate method of exhibition by bypassing the conventional distributor and has been a huge, huge success in Goa, running to full houses and applauding audiences whenever shown. Hopefully, its National Awards (Best Production Design, Best Konkani Film) and Special Mention for Palomi Ghosh will now lead to wider visibility and appreciation for the film, which it so deserves.
Allegedly, the Perry-Cordeiro relationship is also the basis of the relationship between Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma in Anurag Kashyap’s ambitious Bombay Velvet, releasing on May 15th. If so, let’s just say after viewing Nachom-ia Kumpasar, Mr Kashyap has a hard act to follow.
Konkani, Musical, Drama, Color