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Mangalorean star Ester Noronha: From singing and dancing to a great leap into multilingual movies

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Ester Valerie Noronha is a very popular film actress not only in Konkani movie circle but also well-known in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Marathi film industries. Besides being an accomplished actress, Ester has proven herself as a great singer and classical dancer as well.  At a very young age she has achieved so much success that would not only make her family but every Mangalorean proud of her.  Her first Konkani movie was “Nashibacho Khell “directed by Harry Fernandes, a well-known Hindi and Bhojpuri films director who will also call the shots for her second Konkani film “Sophiya”.Ester Valerie Noronha is the daughter of Valerian Noronha and Janet Noronha originally from Pangla/Shankerpura Parish now residing in Mumbai.  They also have a flat in Mangalore. I have known Ester from her childhood as her father was my close friend since our CYM days in Pangla. Even in Mumbai we spent a few years together residing at the parish dormitory of Pangalites known as Kud at Kalina (Santacruz) and later in Dhahisar West.  Thereafter, Valerian went to Bahrain and I moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE, in search of greener pastures.  However, our friendship continued and we were in touch with each other whenever possible, especially during holidays.  I remember Ester along with her parents Janet Noronha (Producer of new Konkani movie Sophiya) and Valerian Noronha had visited my residence at Abu Dhabi when she was just three years old and spent a few hours with our family.

I was following Ester’s steady career which started with singing at various competitions and winning many awards.  Later she joined classical dance and singing classes and mastered them.  It was nice to know that from a humble beginning she had reached top position in the film industry today with her hard work, support from her parents, especially from her mother Janet who saw her great potential and talent which finally paid off.  Ester has acted in several movies already in Hindi, Konkani, Kannada, Telugu and Marathi and has been chosen for a Tulu film as well.  She says that she never imagined in her wildest dreams that she would become a film star one day.  Ester says that it was on the insistence of her mentor Saroj Khan (Famous Bollywood Choreographer) that she was obliged to join film industry. She just wanted to sing and dance as she was associated with greatest Konkani singer from Goa, Lorna with whom she had sung during many stage and musical programmes.

 I met Ester last month during the inaugural “Muhurath” Ceremony of her second Konkani film, “Sophiya “- A Dream Girl. As I was keen to take her interview, I requested her to spare some time as per her convenience. She agreed to meet me on 16 November 2016 at Palimar, where she would be shooting for her new film “Sophiya”. I had a few moments of interaction with her.  Although she was extremely busy with her shooting schedule, she made use of the free time in between the shoot to answer few questions that I put forward to her.

Alphonse: Ester, isn’t it wonderful feeling for you and especially your parents that you have achieved a great success today.  First of all, to whom do you attribute your success?

Ester: Thank you for your compliments.  Yes, it was a long journey but worth it and today I feel great that all my efforts and determination to succeed have paid off.  First of all, I would attribute my success to my dear Mom who was my backbone and on her insistence I started my career, first as a singer then as a dancer and finally I ventured into acting-that too in movies.  Secondly, I thank God for giving me such wonderful parents and the talents that.  While Almighty God has given me the talents, it was my mom who groomed me to realise my dreams.  Besides, I met a number of artistes who have been supporting and encouraging me in perfecting my art.
Alphonse: How did you manage your academics as you have a Post Graduate degree (MA) and pursuing MBA that too while you have been preoccupied with singing, dancing and acting?

Ester: It wasn’t easy to reach this milestone.  It was fruit of my hard work and lots of efforts and encouragement by my mother that I could complete the Post Graduate degree and pursue MBA studies. My mom kept me busy all the time.  I never felt tired as I was very energetic and super hyper.   Initially my interest was in singing which I practiced. Secondly, I learned to devote to one field at a time.  When there was singing, I only and totally concentrated on singing and would never think of dancing.  Similarly when it comes to dance programme, I would whole heartedly practise dance and no other activity until the show would be over.  That way I learned to devote my complete attention to a particular activity at a time.   I had to devote some months just for my studies and would keep away all other activities so that I get through my exams and that too with good marks.  I joined St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai for PU studies and completed BA and MA.  At present I’m pursuing my MBA studies in Symbiosis University, Pune. Yes, I have managed well with concentrating on one field at a time.    Secondly, whatever I do, I do it happily and not by force. That is how I could manage all above successfully.

Alphonse: I remember you won your fist singing competition at Don Bosco, Mangalore and you were very sick that day.  Tell me more about it.

Ester: Yes, I was really sick that day with high fever.  But on mom’s insistence and since I had registered for the competition, I had to attend.  My mom actually carried me to the stage and I just sang as best as I could and to my surprise I won the first prize.  I don’t even remember how I felt but I know my mom was the happiest person that day.  Since then I never looked back.  I participated in almost every singing competition and then gradually in inter-school, inter-parish and so on…

Alphonse:  I remember listening to your songs during childhood when you initially sang on stage at Wilfy Rebimbus musical shows and then also featured on his CD.  How did you get a chance to render your songs on CD?

Ester: Yes, since I got awards in all inter-parish and inter-school singing competitions, I was invited by Wilfy Rebimbus to sing on his shows. The first song I sang on the stage for his 60thBirthday programme was “Achiko-Ichiko “and the same was recorded later in his CD.  However, my first ever song recorded was on Melwin Paris’ CD “Salkam” titled “Panchve Chedu”.  Actually, I was selected to sing in a group chorus for his CD which I was thorough with but at the same time I memorised all other singers’ solo songs and was singing.  It so happened that the girl who was selected to  sing the solo song was not able to produce good results at the recording studio and then I asked if it is okay if I could sing as I was thorough and very confident.  He agreed and it was up to the mark.  That’s how I got a chance to render the song on a CD for the first time.  

Alphonse:  Can you remember how many songs you have rendered for CDs?

Ester:  I can’t remember the exact number of songs that I have rendered for the CDs.  I have sung for CDs of various singers.  Initially I used to sing children’s songs and gradually I began to sing romantic and other varieties of songs.  I have rendered Konkani songs to the CDs of all the leading singers of Mangalore, namely Wilfy Rebimbus, Melwin Paris and Claud D’Souza. Besides, I have also recorded few devotional songs.

Alphonse:  Your first “Ester Show” was a super hit.  How did you manage to stage your own show?  Who were your supporters for that show?

Ester:  Yes, The “Ester Show” was a super hit.  Since I was singing in everybody’s shows, audience was so impressed that they started asking when would be “Ester Show”.  So mom and I decided to go for it.  However, to stage a show you need a purpose as you simply can’t have your own show that too first show.  Like the saying if there is a will there is a way, an opportunity came forward.    I was in 10th standard at that time.  I came in contact with Fr. Francis Lewis who was the director of “Sandesha”. At present he is the parish priest of Mudarangadi Parish.  The Mangalore Diocese was planning for Medical Relief Fund and there was a plan to raise a substantial fund for this purpose.  He requested my mom to put up the “Ester Show”. We agreed to his request.   I didn’t have my own songs as the show required variety of songs.  There was ample time for the show anyway.  I wanted to write my own songs. One day evening I just sat down and was inspired to write my own songs.  Eventually, I managed to complete my first song which I titled as “Dees Budtana”.  Then I wrote the second song called “Ugdas”.  Both songs were recorded in my first CD.  Anyway, eventually we managed to put up my own show with my own two songs and variety of songs from other singers.  Luckily, the show was housefull and a super hit.  We managed to raise around 7 lakhs of rupees which we donated to the Diocesan Medical Fund.  After that a few shows followed under my name here in Mangalore and in the Gulf.  Under the title of “Ester Show” I have done four to five shows, but I have done quite a few shows with famous Goan singer Lorna.

Alphonse:  Oh, that’s news to me!  Tell me more about your association with Goan Konkani Legend Singer Lorna Corderio.

Ester:  I had known Lorna since many years.  Actually, her musician, very famous Konkani Goan Music Director Norman Cardozo was known to me since my childhood.  Many years ago there was a Wilfy Nite in Al Nasr Land, Dubai.  It was half Mangalorean and half Goan musical show.  That year Norman saw me for the first time singing on the stage and after the show he told my mom that I have a great potential and great musical future.   After that we met regularly during mixed shows and we were in regular touch.  Once again, after two years I met him in Abu Dhabi on one of our shows where Lorna was singing. Then I had the opportunity to sing for “Nachoyam Kumpasar”.  Because of “Nachoyam Kumpasar” I was exposed to the Goan audience.  Once Norman asked me if I was interested to join Lorna for which I agreed and that is how we joined together and did some shows in Goa, Mangalore and then USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  So in total, we did 12 shows together.

Alphonse:  How did you get entry into movies?

Ester:  It’s quite interesting actually. I never wanted to act in movies or rather, that thought never occurred to me as I was only concentrating on singing and dancing.  When I was in Second Year PU College, I went to Bangalore for a Bharatnatyam Seminar.  There I met famous Bollywood Choreographer Saroj Khan who was the chief guest that day.  She was somewhat impressed with my dancing talent and suggested that I could make a career in film industry as I have singing and dancing talent. While thanking for her suggestion, I told her that film industry is not my field and I wanted to devote my time and energy in pursuing my education. However, Saroj Khan convinced my mom that I would have bright future in film industry and promised her that she would take care of me.   She then enrolled me in Anupam Kher’s acting school named “Actor Prepares”. After my acting training was over there were offers for a few films but I wanted to complete my graduation. However, Saroj Khan used to take me to film sets. Eventually, I got an offer in a Hindi art film named “Baromas” which was nominated for South Asia Film Festival. It was chiefly due to the efforts and encouragement of Saroj Khan that I got an opportunity to act in Hindi film.  That’s how I got the break to act in Hindi movies.

Alphonse: I heard that you were more famous in Telugu film industry than Kannada or Konkani… Is it true?  Which was the Telugu film that you got an opportunity to act for the first time?

Ester:  During making of “Baromas” movie my unit members shared my movie pictures on Facebook.  Then a famous Telugu Director Dharma Teja viewed these pictures and when he was in Mumbai he met Madam Saroj Khan and got in touch with me and asked me if I am interested to act in Telugu movies.  I was a bit perplexed as I did not even know what Telugu was that time.  I asked him what Telugu was and how it sounded.  Then he spoke some words and asked me to repeat which I did comfortably.  He then told me that I could pronounce Telugu properly and he further said that by just looking at me he could feel that I could act in Telugu movies and asked me to decide on that.  He was so convincing that I had no other option as he saw great potential in me. Eventually, I agreed to do his film.  Hence,I signed my first Telugu movie “Veyyi Abaddalu”.  Upon reaching Hyderabad I realised how big Director Teja was of whom I had no clue at all when I signed the picture.  He is one of the top five Telugu movie directors which I realised later.  So upon release of my first Telugu movie, audience welcomed me and I became quite popular with Telugu Film Industry as well as its viewers.

Alphonse: You were well recognised in your second Telugu Movie, “Bheemavaram Bullodu “as a heroine?  Tell me about the success story.

Ester: Editing of my first Telugu movie was going on in Ram Naidu studios where half the shooting was done. The very producer of a famous production company in Hyderabad called Suresh Productions, who was around, saw my acting skills and immediately contacted me and they signed me for their movie “Bheemavaram Bullodu”. Top film studio in Hyderabad, “Ramoji Studio” also belongs to them.  It was actually shocking for me to be signed by such a big production company that too being a new comer and an outsider in Telugu film industry. I must say it’s a blessing.  This film really gave a boost to me and ran in almost all theatres and the movie was a super hit.  My unit members were very co-operative during the shooting and even helped me to master the Telugu language for which I am very thankful for them.

Alphonse:  What about Kannada movies?  How many movies have you acted and which are they?

Ester: There was news going on it seems in Kannada film circles that “Ester is working in Hindi and Telugu Movies but not in Kannada movies”.  That was when the shooting was going on for my second Telugu movie “Bheemavaram Bullodu”.  Then VJ Manish of Udaya TV approached me to act in his upcoming movie called “Naavika” directed by Sen Prakash for which I agreed.  I worked for 10 – 12 days on the shooting of this movie as the role was not very substantial.  I was appearing in the flashback love story so I could finish it quickly and go back to my Telugu film shooting.  After that I was asked to act for the team of “Moongaru Male” fame E. Krishnappa (EK Entertainers) in the movie “Usiriginta Neene Hattira”.  I acted as heroine in that movie and after that one more movie “ Local Train “ which is almost complete and am shooting for a new one which is yet to begin.  There are offers for more, but at the moment I’m quite occupied and I am unable to sign any more movies.  I have also signed for one Tulu movie “Jugari” by Anand P Raju.

Alphonse:  What about Tamil Movies?  Have you got any offers?

Ester:  Yes, I have been approached but honestly could not concentrate much due to my engagement with other movies at the moment.  But I have acted in many ad films in Tamil for jewellery, sarees and sugar brands.  In Chennai, I’m visible on TV and hoardings.  Hopefully, I will be able to do a full movie in Tamil in the future.  Since I have so many films in hand at present, I won’t be able to give my best.
Alphonse: Your first Konkani movie, “Nashibacho Khell“was very successful.  How did you get the chance to act in this Konkani film?

Ester:  Yes, thankfully it was successful and I am very glad I got the break to act in the movie of my mother tongue Konkani.  I was known to the director of this movie Harry Fernandes since I have been shooting for Hindi movies. Since I am a Mangalorean and Harry Fernandes, also being a Mangalorean, it was quite natural to meet and know each other.  Harry Fernandes was very close to actor Govinda’s family and so am I. The family told me that there is a Mangalorean film director if I would like to meet.  That’s how I was introduced to him and he promised me that one day if there was a good movie he would approach me.  That was many years ago but we were in regular touch as we used to meet in Mumbai on many occasions such as functions and in Church.  Then I was busy in Hyderabad and he was busy directing Marathi and Bhojpuri movies. So we were not in touch for one and half years.  Then suddenly when my shooting was going on for Hindi movie “ Nagarik “, I received a call from Govinda’s driver that Harry Fernandes was looking for me and later Govinda’s nephew too called me and told me that Harry Fernandes wanted my phone number. I told him to pass on my number to Harry Fernandes.  After two days Harry Fernandes called me and told me about the new Konkani movie and told me that he wanted to cast me in the movie as a heroine. I was quite happy about the offer as it was my dream to act in a Konkani movie.  But he told me that there won’t be any financial gain but for the sake of Konkani language let us do it.  I agreed as I too was more than happy to act in Konkani movie and wanted all my Konkani people to watch it.  That is how the journey began in Konkani movie and now I am doing my second movie “Sophiya-A dream Girl” with Harry Fernandes.

Alphonse:  Coming back to your current movie “Sophiya- A Dream Girl. “  How do you foresee the success?

Ester:  See, our intention is to be successful. We are putting in our best efforts as actors. Besides, we want to use the best music and beautiful locations. We are giving our best and already people here have given us a lot of love and support and so I’m sure this movie too will be very successful with Mangalorean and Goan community.  The response of the people for my singing, dancing and acting has been quite encouraging and overwhelming.  I’m very grateful and thankful to them for their continued support throughout my life.  They have welcomed me in open arms and hearts and I have full confidence that this time too they will render their full support to this movie provided we give them the best and quality work.

Alphonse:  Can you say something about the star cast of “Sophiya”?

Ester:  There are quite a number of actors who are well experienced and also we are giving chance to new talents as well. Our intention is to support new talent.  We have two young actors, Elton Mascarenhas and Shelton Crasta in the leading roles supported by Stany, Alvares, Roystan Bolkunje, Francis Oliviera (Padukone) and Floyd D’Mello and very famous Goan comedian Prince Jacob.

Alphonse:  Are you going to sing in this movie as well?

Ester:  Yes, I’ll be singing with Gunvant Sen and Antony Tauro.

Alphonse:  What are your future plans?  Have you found any real hero in your life so far?  Or you leave it to your mom to take care of that?

Ester:  Well, I have not planned much.  Also from the beginning I have not planned anything.  I have taken the life as it came-be it opportunity in singing, dancing or acting.  I would rather rely more on God’s plan for me than my own.   I think God has better plans for me.

For your second question on my real hero, well that too I haven’t decided.  When the right time comes I will see to it.  Regarding that decision it will be taken collectively by my family as we discuss a lot in our family whenever I want to any step.  I do not take decisions alone but with the family and finally I leave it up to God.

Alphonse:  What about your singing career? Do you want to involve more in singing for other movies rather than your own?

Ester:  My singing career is still going on.  Recently I did a show in New Zealand with Lorna. I distribute my time for both singing and acting.  But I have to select appropriate shows or movies. I would like to do selected movies and shows.   I can’t take all the shows or movies.    I also sing as playback singer for Goan and Marathi movies.  For Goan movie “Nachoyan Kumpasar” I sang “Meu Amor” (Portuguese Song) and for Marathi movie “Maji Ashikialso”.

Alphonse:  I compare to you to Usha Uthup when it comes to singing as your voice is somewhat similar to hers and also you are multi-lingual (Kannada, Konkani, Tulu, Telugu and Tamil). What you say about it?

Ester: Yes, I do agree with you.  From my childhood everyone said that I sing like famous multi-lingual singer Usha Uthup.  I recently sang a Portuguese song “Meu Amor” which was earlier sung by Usha Uthup and originally by Chris Perry. As my voice is very similar to hers, they selected me to sing that song.  Likewise, I can sing in many languages without much effort like Usha Uthap. That’s why they compare me to Usha Uthup when it comes to singing.

To Conclude….

Ester’s second konkani film “Sophia- A dream Girl” is a romantic thriller with story script and direction by Harry Fernandes Barkur. Asst. Director/Actor:  Roystan Bolkunje, Cameraman: Shafeeq Sheikh, Action: Sunil Rodrigues, Music: Gunvant Sen and singers will be Ester Noronha, Gunvant Sen and Antony Tauro.

The movie has Ester Noronha in the lead role and supported by two young actors Elton Mascarenhas and Shelton Crasta.  Other actors are Stany Alvares, Roystan Bolkunje, Francis Oliviera (Padukone), Floyd D’Mello and famous Goan comedian Prince Jacob.

The movie will be shot in exotic locations of Palimar, Udupi, Kundapur, Manipal, Mangalore and Chikkamagalore.   Movie will be released in May 2017.

Mangalorean star Ester Noronha: From singing and dancing to a great leap into multilingual movies
Mangalorean star Ester Noronha: From singing and dancing to a great leap into multilingual movies
Mangalorean star Ester Noronha: From singing and dancing to a great leap into multilingual movies
Mangalorean star Ester Noronha: From singing and dancing to a great leap into multilingual movies

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