From the editor’s desk :-
Dear Do-Re-Me-Fa fans,
Once again a hearty welcome to you for this melodious column of web portal daijiworld.com. As I write this editorial my heart is bubbling with joy ‘cause with this episode, after successfully completing thirteen years on net, your favourite music column ‘Do..Re..Me..Fa..’ is entering into its 14th glorious year.
As we commence 14th year with lots of hope and aspirations, in a very special way I thank Almighty God for His choicest blessings to run this music column in a melodious way. I am deeply indebted to the creator of this most popular web portal Walter Nandalike for his dedication, hard work and for tremendous interest he has shown towards this column. I am highly grateful to my dear literary friend Florine Roche for her unassuming help in presenting these sweet and juicy musical chords month after month. Finally, last but not the least I take this opportunity to thank each one of you for your unstinted support and co-operation without which I wouldn’t have been here today. And I’m sure by God’s grace and with your encouragement I will be able to continue this marathon mission.
Although Konkani children are scattered around the globe in search of green pastures, it is very encouraging to see that they have not forgotten their roots, their mother-tongue Konkani and its rich tradition and culture. Highly popular ‘Monthi Fest’ that we are celebrating/celebrated this month with pomp and glory around the globe, is itself the best example for it. When we think about our Konkani tradition and culture my mind goes back to yesteryears’ Konkani songs and all those great Konkani song writers and composers.
Dear music lovers, in this unique episode as a ‘Montifest gift’ I’m going to present to you an unique musical chord, a chord that sowed seeds of Konkani Music in the great city of Chikkamagaluru nestled amidst the beautiful and picturesque Western Ghats well-known for their natural beauty. I personally have a great liking to this wonderful Konkani Music personality and his unique compositions. The shining star whom I’m referring is the composer of that great number "Jai Bharatha” is none other than one and only Amar P H Pinto. I’m sure you will really enjoy listening to this sweet Konkani music. See you next month same place with yet another sweet music chord. Until then, bye!
Yours in Do..Re..Me..Fa..,
Gerry D’Mello Bendur.
P H Pinto, who sowed seeds of Konkani music in Chikkamagaluru
Music is also said to be the language of the soul because it conveyed feelings more intently than anything else. Music can also be spiritual if it is able to stir the soul and transcend time. There are many people who have found recluse in music to find expression to their thoughts and feelings. Konkani music in Mangaluru boasts of many lyricists, composers, music directors and singers whose contribution to Konkani music has helped flourish Konkani language in a big way. Late Philip Hilary Pinto, known to music lovers by the acronym P H Pinto was a lyricist, composer and music arranger - all rolled into one who helped spread the sweet fragrance and mellifluous tunes of Konkani music in Chikkamagaluru and neighbouring areas. Credit goes to him for sowing the seeds of Konkani music in Chikkamagaluru and popularising it with his heroic efforts.
He was also an accomplished Tabla and Flute player and even accompanied many singers on these instruments. October 1, 2015 marks the 20th death anniversary of this legendary musician and this article is indeed a tribute to the man who has rendered yeoman’s service to Konkani music field and also has worked for the welfare of the plantation workers.
Late P H Pinto was a bundle of talent whose contribution to Konkani music is etched in public memory because he gave a professional approach to Konkani music and never compromised on quality. It was P H Pinto who took Konkani music to greater realms transcending all barriers as he did not want it to remain static merely as ‘theatre music’. He was a perfectionist whose emphasize on the quality of music resulted in giving some memorable songs to Konkani music lovers. In fact it is difficult to conjure the image of this resourceful man, a brilliant and eloquent lawyer, who fought for the cause of estate employees, a cricket player who went on to don the role of the President of the Chikmagalur Cricket Association, a coffee planter who successfully managed the plantation, who made it a passion to compose and produce mellifluous tunes of Konkani music.
Inherent Musical Talent
Philip Hilary Pinto was born in Bantwal on 1st May 1929 as the eldest among the 9 children born to late Raymond and Josephine Pinto. He went on to study law from Madras with specialisation in labour law. He was the lawyer for a company in Chikkamagaluru (Estates Staff Union of South India) and it came in handy for him that he was personally managing the family’s coffee plantation in Chikkamagaluru. He married Amy D Cunha, a teacher in 1968 and settled in Chikkamagaluru till his death in October 1995. The couple has only one daughter Shalini who is married to Oswald Vaz and is settled in Bahrain. Amy who is now 80, was with her daughter in Bahrain till recently but had to come back to Mangaluru as her visa expired. She is now waiting to join her daughter any time once the visa formalities are completed.
I met Amy in Mangaluru and she was quite pleased to talk about her husband’s escapades in the music field. "He was a multi-talented person and was fond of music particularly Konkani songs. He was passionate about writing Konkani songs and composing music. He was sure of what he wanted and never rested till he got it. When he was working for an estate in Heerebail he learnt some instruments like harmonium and violin. He was a frequent traveller by air and he utilised that time for composing music," she recalls.
P H Pinto had always shown keen interest in music and his fascination got a boost in church choir. Fr Vitus Prabhudas Pinto (73), Capuchin, the youngest among the three brothers of P H Pinto says, "My brother is the only one among the siblings to be born with that innate talent for music. He began his foray initially by directing school and stage plays and also by providing music. He realised his musical talent and began to explore other avenues and succeeded."
P H Pinto was also active in church choir and slowly but steadily from being a participant he graduated to directing choirs and brought newness into church choir with new renditions and innovations in music arrangements. In fact it was Msgr Angelo Fernandes, the officiating priest of Chikkamagaluru parish, originally from Goa, who spotted his talent and persuaded him to keep experimenting and improving. Soon he began to compose songs and there was no stopping him from then on.
P H Pinto on the left. His friend Aiyappa with Shalini's son Leander Vaz
P H Pinto with his 2 brothers-in-law and Oswald Vaz
P H Pinto with the group of trustees of the Trust he started to support the needy
P H Pinto with wife Amy entertaining a group of friends at home
Some of the songs of P H Pinto rendered immortal in Konkani circles are an indication of his rare talent as a master lyricist and composer. "Jai Bharatha," with its patriotic fervour, romantic song "Sandun Moga," "Dees the Bhurgyaponale," "Zuramenth” are some of the songs that are embedded in the hearts and minds of Konkani music lovers of diverse age groups.
His daughter Shalini goes down memory lane recalling moments associated with her childhood days saying "I can still remember those days of the aroma of my mother’s cooking wafting from the kitchen and perfectly dovetailing with the musical chords emanating from the hall where music practice was done. The mellifluous melody emanating from the musicians under the guidance of my father and the delicious smell of some of the dishes my mother prepared for the group, still lingers in my mind. The very mention of those days bring out a whirlpool of nostalgic memories in me," Shalini recounts.
Shalini, though not a musician herself, has been a connoisseur of music and that gave her an opportunity to judge the music impartially. She says "from the beginning my father eschewed the dominant and traditional styles of music and instead experimented with new sounds and rhythms blending with other genres of music." P H Pinto produced four cassettes and has writen and composed many songs in Konkani, Kannada and English. Machado sisters - as singer Blanch, Edith and Elsy were popularly known, have worked closely with P H Pinto in Chikkamagaluru and have vivid memories of those priceless moments of practising Konkani songs as a team with P H Pinto. Machado sisters have also sung for all the 4 albums brought out by P H Pinto and have been an inseparable part of his trajectory in Konkani music.
Perfectionist with Eye for Quality
In his vehement desire to bring out quality music he worked with some of the known names in Mumbai. After listing to his compositions one of the music directors Emiliano D Cruz took great interest in arranging passionate musical score for his songs enhancing the richness of the songs and evoking the right kind of sensibilities.
One of the Machado sisters – Edith, working for Canara Bank in Mangaluru, has fond memories of those good old days in Chikkamagaluru where they as children had to practice under the watchful eyes of P H Pinto. Edith points out: "He was a tough taskmaster and we had to be perfect in whatever songs we were practicing. But once the practice was over he was quite a jovial and bindaas person and mingled with all easily. Amy aunty used to cook some scrumptious dishes and that was like a bonanza for us children." She goes on to say "there was this raw and genuine Konkani flavour in his songs that endeared us towards him. He was quite amiable to us children and demanded only devotion towards music."
Amy with Edith (one of the Machado sisters)
(L-R) P H Pinto's granddaughter Rhea, daughter Shalini, grandson Leander and son-in-law Oswald Vaz
His songs covered a variety of topics - love, patriotism, melancholy, patriotism and current issues and most of his songs are still in public domain for their versatility and relevance. Yodelling king of Konkani Melvyn Peris who has sung in one of his albums, holds him in high reverence and eulogises about his devotion to perfection. "He was a perfectionist who was very fastidious about the quality of the albums he produced. I am sure he could not get back the money he spent on producing his albums. Even then he never compromised on the quality of the songs. He took the entire team to Mumbai to record songs in a professional studio at his own expenses” Melvyn Peris pointed out. Amy says that P H Pinto had met Emiliano D Cruz, a Goan musician in Mumbai, evinced keen interest and arranged impressive musical score for his songs adding richness to their quality.
Fr Vitus Prabhudas recalls "P H Pinto had a talent for music and also to recognise talented singers who could sing according to his expectations. He had formed a team of people irrespective of religion or caste and together they produced memorable music." P H Pinto had a team in Govindraj and Keshav and Purushotham along with others, in Chikkamagaluru. He wanted to bring out a CD but his wish still went unfulfilled due to his sudden demise." Fr Vitus’s favourite song is "dogainchi amchin kalzam” and "Nokshiba nokshiba."
Concern for the Deprived
P H Pinto’s love for Konkani music was all the more discernible when he spent money from his pocket to bring out 4 cassettes with more than 25 songs and the fact that these songs hold their own sway among Konkani music lovers even after so many years speaks volumes of the talent of P H Pinto. As Amy points out "he was a busy man who always travelled to Chennai, Bengaluru and other places. Very often he used to write and compose songs during this travel period.
P H Pinto did not confine his energy merely for music related activities. He was an activist who worked obstinately to bring legislation seeking facilities for plantation workers and succeeded winning the love and admiration of the poor plantation workers. Having recognised his talent the Indian government had sent him to Israel to study Kibbutz law. He brought together likeminded philanthropists and set up a trust in the name of Msgr Angelo Fernandes to help poor students for their education. He was a member of All India Radio, a rare privilege accorded to individuals and was also member of many government Boards and institutions. His sudden death this rare gem at the age of 66 in 1995 has been a big loss for Konkani music in particular and the entire society in general. Nonetheless, he is still remembered, revered and respected for his contributions to Konkani music and other diverse fields.