Frank Fernand

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Franklin Fernandes, better known as Frank Fernand (3 May 1919 - 1 April 2007), born in Curchorem, Goa, was a renowned film maker and musician and is remembered for his epoch making Konkani movies like Amchem Noxib (Our luck) and Nirmonn (Destiny).[1]

A still from Frank Fernandes' monochrome 1963 Konkani film Amchem Noxib.

He has two daughters from his first marriage to Maxi Perera, named Elphin and Doris. From his second marriage to Madalena Velho, he has one son and one daughter, named Max and Larissa. Frank Fernand died of Parkinson's disease on April 1, 2007.

Frank Fernand had his initial training in music from Diego Rodrigues and mastered violin and trumpet. In 1936, he moved to Bombay. He began playing music under well-known band-leader George Theodore at Green's Hotel and Taj Mahal Hotel. In 1942, he left Mumbai for Mussoorie to play with Rudy Cotton's band and blossomed into a fine jazz musician. He lived and played in Delhi for a while the same year.[2] In the 1940s, when he was playing at a resort in Mussoorie, Mahatma Gandhi happened to be passing through. Frank Fernand listened to one of his lectures, and it brought about a big change in him.[3] He began trying to find a way to play jazz in an Indian way.

India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's biography 'Discovery of India' is also said to have influenced him deeply, and resulted in his complete change of outlook. With a full sense of patriotism, he considered 15 August (India's independence day) every year as the greatest event of the year. He was already back in Mumbai in 1946, playing with Mickey Correia and his band. A turning point in his career and life came in 1948 when he joined the celebrated Hindi music director-duo Shankar Jaikishan. Raj Kapoor's 'Barsat' was his major assignment under the duo's baton. Later he worked under top-level music directors and had close association with Anil Biswas, Kishore Kumar, Roshan, C. Ramchandra and others.

Fernand was music conductor for many films including Don, Hera Pheri, Zanjeer and Victoria No. 203. He was music assistant for a few films including Johny Mera Naam.

His last assignment in the Hindi film industry was as the first assistant of Kalyanji Anandji, another popular music director duo. His deep love for his mother-tongue Konkani motivated him to produce "Amchem Noxib" under his banner "Frank Films" with C Alvares and Anthony Mendes in main roles. He came out with his second movie "Nirmonn" (Destiny), This film had a powerful story with C Alvares, Shalini Mardolkar, Anthony D'Sa and Jacinto Vaz in the main cast and bagged the Certificate of Merit for regional films, the first of its kind for Konkani, at the hands of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

Frank also provided the musical score for the Konkani movie 'Mhoji Ghorkarn' directed by A Salam. Encouraged by the success of two Konkani movies, he made a Hindi movie "Priya" in 1965. It had Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja in the lead, with some catchy songs composed by Kalyanji Anandji. But this movie bombed at the box office. Not losing heart, Frank again attempted to produce another Hindi film 'Ahat' inspired by the popular English film 'Wait Until Dark'. The film was never released.

Frank Fernand has set to music some memorable lyrics by noted poets, most remembered of them all being "Fulam Zai" and "Sobit Amchem Goem" by Dr Manohar Sardesai, for which he won the Bombay Journal Award.

He had also staged a tiatr entitled 'Bekar Patrao' in the 1980s with a ten-piece orchestra introduced for the first time. He pioneered as classical Jazz player and Trumpet Concerto by Handel under music maestro Victor Paranjoti. In 1958, he organized a concert wherein he played the Evolution of Music, Jazz, starting with Negro Spirituals, Dixie Land Jazz, followed by New Orleans Jazz, Sound of America commercial music, Symphony Jazz and Ravi Shankar's Caravan.

A Book by Naresh Fernandes called "The Taj Mahal Foxtrot" accurately notes down his early beginnings and also the beginnings of Jazz in India in which Frank Fernand played a vital part.

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