Oct 29, 2012
From the editor's desk :-
Dear Konkani music lover,
The month of October 2012 need to be remembered and should be written as 'Golden Month' of the year 2012 in 'Konkan Calender', because of an exciting and melodious event which took place in Doha-Qatar which made all the Konkans residing in the entire Middle-East proud. Yes, I am talking about the hugely successful and most popular Konkani reality show - Gulf Voice of Mangalore (GVOM-3) organized by the Mangalore Cultural Association (MCA), Qatar. Whilst I applaud their hard work and professionalism in organizing such a mammoth event, on behalf of Do..Re..Me..Fa.. I wish to congratulate the winners - Reena D'Souza from Oman and Orson D'Souza from Kuwait, for their stupendous performance. Although I could not be physically present at the venue, sitting in Canada I enjoyed every bit of watching the live coverage on our esteemed web portal Daijiworld.com.
Now, let me take you to my music world. In my routine hunt for a superstar to present to you in this exclusive music column, I found yet another magnificent star! She is one of the greatest legends of Konkani stage who blossomed under the Father of Konkani Music Konkan Kogull Amar Wilfy Rebimbus. Who can ever forget those immortal Konkani hits like 'Patricia', 'Dolo Modilo', 'Mollbar chondrem udela', 'Jayanthi Jayantha', 'Yore Moga', 'Novro Mello Ghatagar', 'Voilya Molbar', 'Sounsar Bhounthincho', 'Chilli Pilli Suchnyano', 'Poti Tho Yetolo', 'Kodyalchea Suthuranth', Lakh Neketram', all-time hit 'Cavllo' and many more. The superstar whom I am talking about known for her sweetest voice, the Princess of Konkani Music, is none other than one and only Babitha D'Sa.
As I present to you this sweet music chord… I convey my special thanks to Florine Roche for arranging this profile. I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy listening to one of the melodious chords of Do..Re..Me..Fa.. I'm highly indebted to you for your generous support and encouragement. Let's meet next month, same column and same site. Until then, bye!
Yours in Do..Re..Me..Fa..,
Gerry D'Mello, Bendur
The Princess of Konkani Music
Zorine Gratia D’Sa- the name of this female Konkani singer may be unfamiliar to most people. Known to all by her pet name, Babitha D’Sa has clamped her position as a singer with the irresistible charm of her voice and her down-to-earth personality. Who can forget her luxurious voice in the innumerous duets she has rendered along with Prem Lobo and for leaving an indelible mark as a singer? Despite not being an active singer in the last one decade Babitha has retained her position as a singer loved and respected by her Konkani music fans. She is another star who was identified, nurtured and brought to the fore in the music field by Konkani Kogul Amar Wilfy Rebimbus.
Born as Zorine Gratia Sequeira in Jeppu Parish (14-01-1959) Babitha as she was known at home, is one among the 7 children born to late Quintine and late Sylvia Sequeira. She had her High Schol education St Gerosa High School and followed it up with a Secretarial Course. Her mother Sylvia was a choir singer and has even sung with Meena in the good-old famous song “Zuvanna”. Her older brother Lancy was also an active church choir member and naturally Babitha grew up in a musically inclined environment. As expected Babitha competed in various inter-parishes singing competitions organized by Konkani Natak Sabha and attracted attention by bagging prizes.
Babitha did not have any formal training in singing. She had joined for guitar classes for sometime but could not sustain the interest for long due to some unavoidable circumstances. Nevertheless the music world beckoned her at a young age and she seemed destined to make a mark it. She recalls how she had gone to Wilfy Nite in 1971 held at Town Hall when she was hardly 12. “I went alone all the way to the Town Hall walking from home but came back crying because I did not get the ticket for the show”, she reminisces.
Getting into Wilfy’s Troupe
Brother Lancy was already a member of United Youngsters of Wilfy which easily paved the way for Babitha’s entry into the United Youngsters group. Wilfy who possessed the idoneous spirit of identifying talent and nurturing it took Babitha under his tutelage and gave her an opportunity to sing in his troupe in 1974 when she was barely 15. It was a duet song “Voylya Molbar” with Prem Lobo and soon the song became a sensational romantic song and Prem-Babitha became a household name. It was this very first duet with Prem that gave a strong edifice for the duet pair of Prem-Babitha which went on to create a flutter among Konkani music lovers with some of their memorable super hit songs climbing up the popularity chart.
In 1979 she got married to Leslie D’Sa who was also a musician (guitarist) and after marriage the couple settled in Valencia Parish for 11 years before moving to Cascia Parish. Marriage and motherhood did not come in the way of her music performances in Wilfy’s troupe. Rather with the active support of her husband Babitha proved her talent as a singer of extraordinary standing. Managing household duties, recording for CD’s and singing in Wilfy Nites was quite hectic but she says “she loved every fulfilling moment and the challenge that came with it”.
She remembers that in 1980 when she was in the last stages of pregnancy with her first child she had to go to Manipal for Wilfy’s CD recording scheduled at the residence of Ganesh Pai. After staying in Manipal for a week for the recording she had come back and within two days she had given birth to her daughter Lavita. “It was quite hectic considering that I was in the last stage of pregnancy. Now I just wonder how I was able to do that. The support of Wilfy and Meena and other members of the troupe gave me necessary strength and courage”, Babitha recalls.
In Konkani music field Prem-Babitha pair was well established. The pair had gained popularity and some of their duet songs had reached the zenith of popularity. Songs like “molbar Chandrem Udela”, “Kodyalchya Suthuranth”, “Kori”, “Sheranth ek Ghar” “Kavlo Yevun Basla”, “Lakh Nekethran” are some of the duet songs that have been immortalized by Prem-Babitha pair during Wilfy Nites and later in the CD’s. Babitha was also given to sing a song “kalzanth kaliz bandla” with Wilfy in the drama “Thisri Cheet” and also a song in the movie “Mog ani Moipas”.
Babitha has sung in 33 CD’s of Wilfy Rebimbus and in a few CD’s of Stany Mendonca and Claud Bendur. She has sung devotional songs in another 6 CD’s of Wilfy, Fr Walter Albuquerque, Fr Rony Serrao. Babitha has also sung a duet song with Prem for Konkani film “Bogsane”. She has also acted in the musical drama “Ali Baba and 40 Chors”. In 1977, HMV the giant music company had recorded 2 of her songs for their disc.
Awards and Recognitions
Recently KarnatakaKonkaniSahithyaAcademy honoured her in recognition of her contributions to Konkani music. In 1995 Konkan Kogul Wilfy and Meena had hounoured her with gold medal for her long standing contribution to Konkani music and for her association with Wilfy’s Troupe United Youngsters.
Babitha is happy in whatever little way she has been able to serve Konkani language through Konkani songs. Like every parent, she had expected her children Lavita or Lohit would follow in her footsteps. Though her children have chartered their own course of life Babitha is least perturbed. “Children have their own interests and have to chalk out their own life. I did not want them to sacrifice their interests for my sake”, she reasons.
Babitha has been a public performer in Wilfy Nites held in India, Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Bahrain and Doha for almost 22 years. She comes across as a shy and unassuming person having no airs about her name and fame.
Prem and Babitha has been one of the hit pairs of Konkani music and that has given them a permanent place in the heart of Konkani music lovers. The pair was such a hit that many people even mistook Prem and Babitha to be a husband-wife team. Both Prem and Babitha and the United Youngsters team used to have a hearty laugh when people used to address them as a ‘couple’.
Babitha becomes nostalgic recalling some of the hilarious incidents while performing at the various shows and nites. She recalls a particular incident when Prem had she had to perform the ‘honeymoon song’ on stage. Both Prem and Babitha had come dressed up as bridegroom and bride to the stage with usual pomp. It is a customs at Wilfy Nites that the MC is supposed to keep the lyrics of the song on the mike desk. Unfortunately for them, the copy of the song had slipped out of the mike desk to get under the wooden stage without anybody noticing it. Needless to say it was impossible to retrieve it. Once the song began both Prem and Babitha who knew only the first para could not continue in the absence of lyrics had to beat a hasty retreat. “It was quite embarrassing and Wilfy always used to make fun that we went for honeymoon with all the paraphernalia and came back half way”.
Following the death of her husband Leslie in 2002 Babitha had to give up active singing as she singlehandedly had to shoulder the responsibility of bringing up her children and also manage the family business run by her husband. Babitha has shown extraordinary courage in trying circumstances as she has been running the 60 year old timber depot D’Sa – D’Souza & Co at Nandigudda after the demise of her husband.
Now that both her children are settled Babitha lives all alone and carries on the family business with the help of a trusted manager. She is grateful the Rebimbus family for giving a fillip to her talent and making her what she is. Having fulfilled most of her ambitions she says “there is nothing to be achieved. I regret not being able to sing in Wilfy Nites since 2002 as it demands a grueling schedule, which I am unable to accommodate”. Her only hope is that her grandson Jake might make a name in Konkani music field in the days to come.
The Konkani music sensation Babitha D'Sa is truly the Princess of Konkani music. Her devoted fans wish that her melodious voice should bring melodious numbers to their musical ears. One hopes Babitha will not disappoint her fans!