Archive for » August, 2011 «

Remembering Anthony Gonsalves

[This article first appeared in Seminar and has been reproduced in The Greatest Show on Earth, a new anthology of writing about Bollywood edited by the excellent Jerry Pinto.]

 

Midway through Manmohan Desai’s classic 1977 film about three brothers separated in childhood, a man in a top hat and a Saturday Night Fever suit leaps out of a giant Easter egg to inform the assemblage, “My name is Anthony Gonsalves.”

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Music Grows Where Maurice Goes

   In the Bandra of my youth, there weren’t many vehicles around, and the few that did happen to rumble by to interrupt our games of street hockey were almost uniformly Fiats or Ambassadors. It’s no wonder, then, that the Bajaj Matador van parked in St Peter’s Colony always got a second glance from pedestrians on Pali Hill Road. Everyone knew the owner. If you didn’t, a sign on the side of the van made his identity clear: amidst a cascade of musical notes was the declaration, “Music grows where Maurice goes.”

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Category: Audio, Bombay  Tags: ,

Summertime in Toronto

Toni Pinto, on accordian, and his band on the rooftop of the Ambassador Hotel.

A few weeks ago, along with the bills and magazines in my mailbox, I discovered that someone had posted me the first real letter I’d received in about a decade. It was from Canada and bore a stamp featuring a polar bear. It turned out to have been from Toni Pinto, who led a band at the Ambassador Hotel on Churchgate Street (now Veer Nariman Road) for 16 years, starting in 1958. Pinto wanted to know when Taj Mahal Foxtrot would be on the shelves and took the opportunity to enclose a clipping about himself. The pianist has divided his time between Bombay and Canada for several years and recently took part in that country’s largest talent contest for people older than 65. He beat out all the other contestants. He won the Senior Star Trophy and a spot on a TV programme.

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The Gentleman with the Saxophone

One of the biggest mysteries about Hecke Kingdom, who cut a distinctive figure on the Bombay jazz stage in the 1950s and ’60s with his enormous baritone saxophone, was how exactly he pronounced his name. Was the “e” supposed to be silent? As it turns out, you could call him whatever you liked. Though his family didn’t pronounce the “e”, his fans often did. But whether they called him “Heck” or “Heckey”, as concert brochures routinely spelled his name, most people knew one thing about him: that he was a very talented musician.

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