Multilingual Mangalorean Chinese shines in Bollywood
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Jun 5: He flaunts the big tattoo of dragon on his right arm which represents auspicious power according to ancient Chinese folklore. It has taken him six patient hours to have the dragon tattooed ‘just for fun’ and he says he adores it.
Mangalore-born Chinese Nelson Leao Sheng Hua is quite eloquent and the advantage of knowing eight languages including Tulu, Konkani, Kannada, Malyalam, Hindi, English and two versions of Chinese languages is a boon which he treasures a great deal. His eloquence has come in handy for him as he began to work as a professional interpreter in Mumbai after he left Mangalore in 2001.
Nelson has also made a foray into Bollywood along with two sons Allen and Daniel and is slowly finding his niche there having acted in five movies and a TV serial so far. With that Nelson has added acting as an addition to his list of talents that includes being an hotelier, a chef and a professional interpreter.
Knowing so many languages is the one advantage which Nelson uses to surprise people, especially those who take him for granted believing him to be a foreigner. So if a Malayalee quotes an exorbitant prize for something he sells on the roadside, the prize comes down four times if Nelson starts conversing with him in tongue-twisting Malayalam language. Nelson encounters such incidents in Mumbai hotels regularly especially when he begins to converse in Tulu when the opportunity comes and soon makes way for a camaraderie. Nelson says “I am not trying to misuse my language skills but the urge to speak in Tulu or Konkani with a person knowing those languages precedes all other considerations”.
Nelson says interpreting from Chinese to Tulu and from Tulu to Chinese was one of the highlights of his career as an interpreter. He was called as an interpreter for Yenepoya Plywoods of Yenepoya group when the company brought machinery from Taiwan for its factory a few years ago.
Nelson was born and brought up in Mangalore as his parents who had come down from Kolkotta were settled in Mangalore. They used to run the first Chinese restaurant in Mangalore “Nanking” located in Milagres Flats, which Nelson was forced to close in 1998. His wife Gloria is a beautician and used to run a beauty parlous in the same flats. Nelson had his education in Milagres and his three children Allen, Daniel and Kelly also had their education in Milagres before they left for Mumbai.
“It was just by fluke I got an offer to act in the Hindi movie when an agent called and told me there is a role to act as a mature businessman and I did not allow the opportunity go out of my hand”, he recounts. He passed the audition test with flying colours and and it got him his first role in Hindi flick “Commando” along with son Allen. Allen is also acting with forthcoming Hindi film Nana Patekar in “Ab Tak Chappan 2”. Since then there have been a slew of offers and now Nelson is selected for a role in a Subhash Ghai film, the shooting of which is going to begin soon.
Nelson and his family have a strong affinity to Mangalore and they are contemplating coming back to Mangalore to restart their hotel business and get settled here. Gloria says “Allen is keen to come back and start the hotel business here in Mangalore and we would support him if he is keen in doing so”. Even otherwise Gloria and Kelly have decided to come back to Mangalore after two years and settle down here. Kelly has recently finished her SSLC and is keen to do architecture. In that case Nelson would keep shuttling between Mangalore and Mumbai and other places depending on his shooting schedule.
Mangaloreans who have tasted some of the authentic Chinese delicacies in “Nanking” can look forward to savour the same in the near future.