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Bardroy Barretto the Goan born talent who made it to the Oscars

There are many creative personalities from Goa working in the film industry of Mumbai but their contributions hardly help Goa as most of them
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There are many creative personalities from Goa working in the film industry of Mumbai but their contributions hardly help Goa as most of them do not contribute much to our industry although we always feel proud to be associated with those big names. But the story of Bardroy Barretto is completely different. This small town boy from Galgibag Canacona helped to take the name of Goa’s film industry to the international level. The movie Nachom-ia Kumpasar reached to the Oscars.

I met Bardroy first in ESG campus. Highly polite, sophisticated, simple and humble that is the overall personality of this gentleman. I meet many people day in day out but most of the personalities related to the film fraternity have sort of attitude which they carry right on their shoulder but Mr. Barretto is I can say is completely different. He has the simplicity of Goa and the creativity of Hollywood synced very well in his personality.

If you have not heard of Bardroy yet then let me tell you that he is an ADMAN having his studio in Mumbai and his recent biopic “Nachom-ia Kompasar” based on the true story of Lorna and Chris Perry has reached to Oscars surpassing all the big budget movies made in Bollywood.  He belongs to Goa and he had spent his childhood at Galgibag in Canacona. “I was born there. Walked barefoot in the village and that makes me feel that I am very well connected to this land. I remember of working in the field “Ami Xet Roytale” (we used to cultivate paddy field),” said Bardroy.

Lawry and Dona performing I will Always Love You
Lawry and Dona performing I will Always Love You

According to him, in those days there was no market system and everything was in barter (the barter system is the exchange of goods and services in lieu of currency). I grew up in a very normal village atmosphere and which according to me is very much necessary which teaches us how to live in the community, learn to help others and share things with them. According to me in this community everyone has a role to play,” he said.

Bardroy grew up in a rustic atmosphere and he went to the church school “It was actually inside the church,” he described. Bardory did his preliminary studies in Canacona and then he moved to Margao for the higher studies “I moved to Margao in Loyola School where I completed my SSC and from there I moved to Chowgule college where I did my intermediate in Science. Then I moved to Bombay where I completed my graduation while working in the studio at the same time,” he narrated.

In Mumbai Bardroy completed his graduation while working in the studio as an assistant cinematographer. “When I was in 9th STD I was clear about my career goals then. I knew that I wanted to be a cinematographer. Hence, the moment I completed my 12th I wanted to join the FTII but to my bad luck when I finished by 12th the FTII became post graduation course,” he said.

According to Bardory, his dream of becoming FTIIn made him move to Mumbai and that way he got an opportunity to learn cinematography while doing his graduation. “During my three years of working in the cinematography field I met many of the FTII guys and I realized that lot of them could not unlearn what they have learned. And there were guys who effortlessly unlearnt and went flourishing. That made me take decision to give up the idea of FTII since I did not want to spend three years studying and another four years to unlearn what I have learned so I decided to carry on working,” said Bardroy

Sometimes the opportunity gives lots of experience to the person. Same happened with Bardroy too. He started learning to edit at the Mansoor studio in Mumbai where he also used to shoot since he had already learned cinematography. “I was the part of Mansoor Khan Studio and it was servicing the advertising world where I used to shoot and since it was an editing studio I also learned how to edit. So at some point of time I became the cinematographer who could edit and an editor who could also shoot,” said Bardory.

Lawry and his Swing Band
Lawry and his Swing Band

Slowly Bardroy learned the direction while working at the Mansoor studio. “This way I completed the silver jubilee journey of my career which I started in 1988. Today I have the 18 years of experience in editing, 25 years of cinematography and 12 years of experience in direction. In direction I am still new,” said Barretto sounding very humble as usual.

According to Bardroy, his journey into the direction started somewhere in 1998. “I used to do things in which people were not involved. It was all with props, I used to use the objects for packaging title design. I used to design the title packaging for MTV subsequently I started using the humans also as objects in films and over the period I became comfortable with that and that was the time I started doing the ad films,” he explained.

Bardroy feels that when he started working with UTV he commenced a small production house; it was in partnership with another friend of mine. In the year 2004, I set up my own production house called “Brown Skin” with Anjan, another female producer. I was quite happy with the success I achieved during that time. We were doing quite well but that was not giving me the satisfaction since I always wanted to do something for the place where I belong to and that idea always existed at back of my mind,” said Bardoroy.

As I said Bardroy always wanted to do something for the place where he come from his origin, Goa and he had been working on this idea right from the year 2000. “I had been working on the story since 2000 but I finalized on this idea when in the year 2002 Chris Perry died. It was the idea of making a biopic but after his (Chris) death we started fictionalizing the story and I started writing it in 2004,” Bardroy narrated.

When finally Bardroy started working on the story he realized that the more you research on this characters the picture start getting bigger and better. “Now it was not only about the Lorna and Chris. I went deeper into research which took quite a bit of my time. In this journey, I met Anthony Gonsalves, Ronnie Monseratte, Pyarelal. I just did not rely upon the one-sided statements but I chose to cross-check all the facts myself,” said Barretto.

While on the research spree Bardory realized that there are many more talented people from Goa who contributed to the film industry of Mumbai while it was growing. “N Datta the great musician belongs to Goa, I was unaware of this fact. I realized that Goa is the only place from where so many musicians are coming from who have contributed to this industry a big time but they are still unheard of. I have narrated this in the beginning of my biopic,” said Bardroy.

Lawry and Dona
Lawry and Dona

According to Bardroy, the reason behind the migration of the musicians to other parts of the country was the lack of opportunity in our own state. “Goa has always been the ocean of talents but it could not sustain them so they went out looking for opportunities in various states and forms. Some went to work in the Military band while others preferred to join the circus band. Few landed in Bombay and started working in Jazz clubs. It means there was a huge migration of a talent from Goa,” narrated Barretto.

Mumbai was the major destination for many since Mumbai had many Jazz clubs then. But with the due course of time there was a paradigm shift in the club culture and that amounted into losing the opportunities and many had to turn back to their origin but few still stayed behind and made their mark into the music industry.

When I asked Bardroy about the reason behind choosing the story of the Lorna and Chris and making a biopic on he said that since he is from Goa and in his earlier days he used to listen to them on the radio in the afternoons. “I used to listen to the programs like “Kanda Wonda” and “Man Jogti Geeta”. I had grown up listening to those songs and it created the deep impact on me since then. According to me, each song has some story to tell. The Music of Chris and Voice of Lorna left the deep impression on me and then I decided that one day I will portray their story in front of the world,” said Bardroy

Bardroy remembers hearing the rumors of the love story of the main characters of the biopic and he thought that this is the perfect story. The storyline was there in the mind but due to the demise of legendary musician Chris Perry he had to face a lot of difficulties to get the facts verified. “I spoke to many people but none of them revealed anything and on top of that they started asking me “why you are getting into all these mess, just leave it” and since no one spoke out we had no option but to fictionalize the certain portion of the story,” he said.

According to Bardroy, they worked out the most innovative way of making the screenplay for this movie. “We arranged the song in such a way that the playlist of the songs became the storyline of the movie. We didn’t have to write the story, we arranged the songs in my way and the movie was on,” said Bardroy.

“The story starts with the struggle of a musician (Lowry) in Mumbai (the song Kuku ruku koo koo) then in village he finds the crooner (Dona) (song the title song) then she becomes the part of band (song Piso) and then band flourishes and more madness continues (Song Bebdo) then the flirting part comes followed by falling in love .. Than deeply in love and finally madly in love. This story goes ahead with betrayal… suicidal. All the songs are arranged in these emotions till the song “I wish I was dead”. After doing with the songs we wrote the scenes in between to take the story forward,” explained Bardroy. Normally you find its other way round where people write the story and then think of songs depending upon the situations but in the case of Bardroy, it was completely opposite. He made the songs as a basis and built the story around it.

Although Bardroy did his best to give one international standard flick to Goa but he never expected much from it except the good viewership from the Goan crowd. But as it says “Umeed se Dugna” his movie received multiple national and international awards. “When the national awards were announced I was pleasantly surprised we got three national awards,” said Bardroy.

Lawry and the Swing Band at Clube Astoria
Lawry and the Swing Band at Clube Astoria

When I asked Bardroy wasn’t it a big leap for him to get into the movie production directly from ad business he said that for him it was just the increase of scale “we used to handle the work in smaller scale with ad agency while movie making had only led to increasing the scale of work. there it was 3 days shoot here it turned into 40 days shoot that’s it,” said Bardroy.

According to Bardroy, he had to face a lot of problems when he decided to cast the people from Goa. “First problem was nobody wanted to come for the auditions and secondly whoever came for the audition didn’t know Konkani and proudly said that “We don’t know Konkani”. We did almost six-month auditions in Goa but except few characters we did not find much,” said Bardroy. Bardroy had in mind his friend Vijay Mourya for the lead role “I cast Vijay 5 years ago when I first thought of doing the biopic,” said Bardroy.

This was the first movie made through the crowdfunding but according to Bardroy, it was more than the crowd funding “It was more of family and friends for that matter. Initially, I approached many corporate and business houses for the funding but none of them extended their helping hand in this saying that they are not interested,” said Bardroy. According to him what fun they got in crowd funding would not have otherwise received in the private or corporate funding.

When I asked Bardroy about his next film he said that he is planning to make another movie soon and that will be also having the same backdrop of retro era 74 to 80s “I want to address that old era because that is the era I guess has some good stories to be told and it’s also the era I lived into and I think I will be very comfortable narrating the story of that,” he said.

When I asked Bardory as what message he wants to give it to the people of Goa he said that he thinks there are opportunities available now, which were not there then, and one should be in the position to take to it. “One must also open to learning. There are people who have done one or two flicks but I have seen they get consumed by that and they feel that they have done a great job. According to me, one has to be vulnerable. There is a lot of talent in Goa,” he concluded with these words.

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