The Jazz Age of Bombay
Kashyap says that BV is dedicated to Lorna Cordeiro..
You couldn’t miss the poster as you sauntered down Jamshetji Tata Road in downtown Bombay. It hung outside the Astoria Hotel, across the street from the octagonal Art Deco turret of Eros cinema, inviting the city to Chris and Lorna’s daily shows at the Venice nightclub. It was 1971. India was savouring its newfound place on the world’s stage. The country’s armed forces had decisively liberated Bangladesh and the idealism of Independence had welled up again. India’s middle classes were capturing their polyester memories on Agfa Click IIIs that cost 46.50 rupees (taxes extra), aspiring to the lifestyles of “The Jet Set Air Hostesses” described in The Illustrated Weekly of India (price: 85 paise), and being encouraged by newspaper ads to “Go gay with Gaylord fine filter cigarettes”.
As the City of Gold bubbled through its jazz age, Lorna and Chris enthralled Bombay with their shows at Venice each night. Remo Fernandes, who would go on to become the first Indian pop musician to record an album of original English-language tunes, was among those locked in the spell. “Two artists sometimes ignite a creative chemistry in each other which goes beyond all logical explanation. Mere mortals can only look and listen in awe,” he rhapsodised. “In such duos, one plus one does not make two. It makes a number so immeasurable, it defies all laws of calculus.”
But the sparks that flew at Venice gradually built into a roaring conflagration. As Remo put it: “Hyper-intense, high-temperament artistic relationships often end in emotional disaster, like two comets when they steer too dangerously close. Chris’s and Lorna’s, as we all know, was no exception.”
Like the myths about the city in which they soared to fame, the tale of Chris and Lorna has gained so much in the re-telling it’s sometimes difficult to thresh the apocrypha from the actual. Thirty years after the two stopped performing together, old-time musicians in the bylanes of Dhobi Talao and Bandra still beg anonymity as they reminisce in sad whispers.
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