From the editor’s desk :-
Dear Do..Re..Me..Fa.. browsers,
Please accept my sincere apology for keeping you waiting in presenting yet another musical chord that you are anxiously awaiting to listen month after month. I just wanted to cool down the heat of Karnataka election so that the music fans can enjoy the sweetness of music chord that I present to you today without any distraction. Now elections are over.. life is back to normal.. and here you go with yet another great Konkani stage sensation!
Last month we were so fortunate to listen Dr Aparna Mayekar, a Bollywood star who brought newness to Konkani Music. Believe me I was so ecstatic to receive a thank you note from Dr Aparna and in her email she says….
"Dear Gerry and Florine,
I am very thrilled to go through the article about me and am grateful to the both of you and your team at Daijiworld.com for the beautiful write up.
My gratitude toward Henry is infinite for having introduced me to the Konkani audience decades ago as i am grateful to the Konkani audience for accepting, honoring and loving me and my songs wholeheartedly in return. It has been a wonderful musical journey with great opportunities to sing for and along with many Konkani stalwarts and i cherish each and every moment.
As music knows no boundaries of language and nation, a musician thus flourishes and lives on forever in the hearts of the listeners.
You have, so lovingly, made my songs immortal!
Thank you so much.
Much love and GOD bless,
WOW!!! Isn’t that amazing! What an honour for Konkani diaspora from a superstar like Dr Aparna! I am so happy that through your great support the mission Do..Re..Me..Fa.. is getting stronger day by day in giving the Konkani music artistes due honour they truly deserve!
Now let me get back to my business. In my great determination of presenting you a melodious musical chord this month I found yet another Singing and Acting Star that is par excellence! This star is a born stage artiste who has entertained thousands and thousands of Konkani theatre and music lovers for several decades. This super-duper star whom I am presenting to you today is none other than the one and only Betty Nazareth popularly known as Betty Naaz! I am you will really enjoy listening to this sweet chord of Konkani music.
I wish to say a ‘BIG THANK YOU’ to my buddy Florine Roche for meeting up with Betty Naaz for an exclusive interview during her recent visit to Mumbai. Also I take this opportunity to congratulate her for winning the coveted Talent Research Foundation Award-2013. She truly deserves this award for all her dedication and sacrifice in serving the communities of different religion, caste and creed. I wish her many more accolades in the near future!
Finally, I wish to thank every one of you for taking your time in browsing through this music column. See you then, next month at this same portal and same column. Until then, bye!
Yours in Do..Re..Me..Fa..,
Gerry D’Mello, Bendur.
Betty Naaz - Singer & actor par excellence!
Her name rings a chord of familiarity for enthusiasts of Konkani music and drama. Having started her stage career at a young age of 10 as singer-actor it has been a long and fulfilling journey of almost six decades of stage performance for Beatrice Josephine Nazareth, popularly known as Betty Naaz in Mangalorean and Goan Konkani theatre. Having sung for over 250 Konkani audio albums and with nearly 3000 stage shows Betty Naaz has left an indelible mark with her persona. She has been fortunate enough to get myriad opportunities to showcase her versatility as a mass entertainer with her acting and singing prowess.
Betty was born to Elizabeth and Aloysius Louis Nazareth who was also a stage artist. Her mother is from Bolkunje and father was from Bejai who later settled in Belthangady. Her parents had come to Mumbai in search of a better future and Betty was born in Mumbai as the third among the seven children born to them. Her father Aloysius Nazareth was a stage artiste and Betty was exposed to Konkani theatre at a fairly young age.
Betty began her amateur career in theatre at 10, performing for her parish feast shows at St Anne’s Mazagaon. Her talent was noticed in her very first performance and it naturally a professional opportunity beckoned her from Mangalore when late Maurice Cabral offered her a leading role in his play “Deswat” in 1958. Betty grabbed the opportunity and that role heralded her arrival on Konkani stage. She went on to work with Cabral with plays such as “Borvoso”, “Vadaal”, “Aneeth”, “Kangan” etc,. These plays got her established in Konkani theatre and she got offers from other talented and reputed directors like A T Lobo, Suny D Souza, Lawry Andrade, Cha-Fra, Francis Fernandes Cascia, A C Misquith and many others catapulting her to the zenith of popularity among Konkani theatre aficionados.
Betty was able to attract attention through her singing and acting despite not having any formal training either in singing or acting. “My dad was a stage actor who had worked with reputed directors like A T Lobo. In our family all of us are artistes though not many have taken it as a professional career”, Betty says.
Though acting is in her blood she had to take up a job for a livelihood. She worked for Philips Company in Mumbai but after working for nine years had to give up the job when the company got shifted to Pune.
In 1977 Betty married well-known musician Abdon Fernandes, known to many by his nickname Abbey. As a film musician Abbey had worked with musicians like Kalyanji-Anandji, Babla and played for all the shows of Goan sensation Chris Perry. Initially her in-laws had reservations about her performing on stage but subsequently they allowed her to continue with her acting.
Amidst her acting assignments in Mumbai, Manglaore and Goa, Betty has sung for over 250 audio albums for M Boyer (Golden Goa), Rosary Fernandes, Romeo Mendes, Prince Jacob, Chris-Meena, Lawrence Saldhana, Connie M, Julie Rod, Kenny and the list goes on. She has also come out with her own cassette “Devachen Bogsane”, the music of which was provided by her husband Abbey and Annibal Crasto.
Initially she performed both as a singer and actor but later was advised by some directors in Mangalore to concentrate on acting because it was difficult to do both. In Goa, however, Betty once again got an opportunity to excel both in acting and singing. “Goan stage is quite different and here we are expected to both sing and act in the plays”, she points out. Betty has also sung for the musical nites of Victor Concesso, Kenny, Tony Martin and others. She has also sung for Hindi orchestra in Mumbai.
Goan association benefitted Betty a great deal because she came in touch with Goan professional theatre which was quite vibrant and active. As professional shows in Goa kept her busy throughout, she had to say goodbye to her stage career in Mangalore, which was not to her liking initially. But she had to choose between the two and she opted to concentrate on Goan stage which was much more pulsating and gave her meaty roles.
In Goa Betty got opportunity to work with some of the best Konkani directors of the time namely C Alvares, Prem Kumar, M Boyer, Joe Rose, Rosary Ferns, Tony Martin, Cristina Vaz, Peter Fernandes and Mike Mehta and many more. Some of the plays that have brought name and fame for Betty in Goa are “Laz Naslolo kon”, “Khoto Poiso”, “Vaante”, Donn Kalzan”, “Sezarachi Combi”. In Goa she got an opportunity to act in two Konkani feature films “Boglanth” and “Jivith Amchen Ashen” directed by Muthukrishna Das from Bangalore. The film “Boglanth” was written by director Prem Kumar who gave Betty the title of “Meena Kumari of Konkani Theatre” in recognition of extraordinary acting prowess. Betty has also acted in a few Konkani video films.
She toured Dubai along with the Goan team where they played Konkani drama “Fulan ani kale”, which was more like a non-stop opera. She has also toured all over the world giving shows in Muscat, Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Doha , London, Israel and she may tour Canada for a show this year. In India Betty has been a part of the team that toured various Indian cities like Pune, Karwar, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkotta among others to give shows.
Her association with Mangalore has continued despite her hectic schedule and busy work in Goan entertainment industry. Betty was a part of the Konkani Niranthari programme organized by Mandd Sobhann in 2008, which went on to create Guinness Word Record.
Betty has acted in eight dramas of renowned play-wright Francis Fernandes Cascia that includes record breaking “Mataro Chorbela” which has seen over 60 shows worldwide. She is now acting in a new drama of Francis Fernandes.
It is to the credit of Betty that even after 40 she essayed leading roles in plays. Now, of course keeping in tune with her age, she is comfortable doing the roles of a mother, sister or sister-in-law. “Usually once women reach 40 they are not given the roles of a heroine. But I was lucky to get some of the best roles even after I was past my prime”, Betty recounts. Some of the songs she has popularized are “Naas Goynkara” for Ivor D Cunha’s musical show, Galfak Vetam and songs from her first cassette – Bebdo Gabru, Poppat Bai, Mammicho ugdas etc.
Awards and recognitions
Betty is a well-known and established name in Konkani theatre. Known as the tragedy queen of Konkani theatre she could grab eyeballs with her beauty, consummate acting and singing talent. In 1965 Betty had won the “Poinnary – best singer award given by none other than by Mrs Homi Taleyarkan. In 1978 Betty was honoured with “Goencho Mog Award” for best actor for Rosario Rod’s Uzvad Polailo. She has also been the recipient of Gulab best actor and Coco Cola award for best Goan performer. In 2011 Betty was conferred Divo Paraskar award and Tiatr Academy Goa award the same year.
More than the awards in recognition of her contributions to Konkani theatre, she cherishes the love and adulation she has received from Konkani theatre fans spread over three state and abroad. “It is the audience which makes us what we are and I am happy I have been accepted as an actor-singer and tolerated so long”, she says as a matter of fact.
As an artiste Betty says she has the complete satisfaction of giving her best to the industry and also getting the best from it in return. She is grateful for her husband late Abbey for the enormous support and encouragement that she received. “Without his constant support I don’t think I would have been able to achieve anything”, is her quick riposte.
It was of course not easy for Betty managing her family and her acting career. Acting in Goan shows sometimes called for being out traveling for nearly one to two months. She says she could cope up bringing up the children with the help of a maid and for sometime an aunty of hers proved to be a great help. “When it comes to plays I was ready for all sorts of sacrifices. It was not easy shuttling between Mumbai and Goa and even when I was practicing for the plays I used to think about my children”, she declares. After the birth of her second son Betty was forced to cut down on her acting assignments for a few years. But once the children grew up she was drawn back to the theatre once again with the same enthusiasm and fervor.
Now recalling those days she just wonders how she was able to manage her twin roles as a mother and an artiste working in three different theatres of Mumbai, Goa and Mangalore. “It is even impossible to think of the struggle of those days and also the challenge and thrill associated with it”, is her refrain.
Her husband died in 2004 and she had the responsibility of taking care of her two children – Aron and Warren. Since the boys had grown by then it did not affect her stage performance in any way. Elder son Aron is working for an oil rig company and younger son Warren is married and settled in Canada. Even at 68 Betty is busy as ever shuffling between Mumbai and Goa and even Mangalore for her shows.
After almost six decades of her association with theatre Betty has only one unfulfilled dream – of acting in a Bollywood movie. She still has her fingers crossed and has not given up hopes completely.
Betty is quite addicted to her theatre activities and that is what keeps her adrenaline pumping and energy levels high – to continue to entertain Konkani theatre enthusiasts. She has already achieved the unthinkable and is sure to leave an indelible mark as an actor-singer in Konkani theatre. We wish and pray that her dream in acting Bollywood movie may come true in the very near future!