09 Aug 2020  |   03:54am IST

The Mumbaikar Goenkar who rocked the stages of Maximum City

Kenneth Zuzartes talent has helped him star in movies as well as release albums in addition to acting in various tiatrs over the years, mainly in Mumbai
The Mumbaikar Goenkar who rocked the stages of Maximum City

Team Café

Decked up in a woman’s attire, his height and feminine look helped him win whilst singing and acting. As a female, he believed that he would do a better job and that too, with more confidence. Kenneth Michael Theresa Zuzarte, popularly known as Kenny on the Konkani stage, was born to late Michael and Theresa Zuzarte on July 26, 1960, in what was then Bombay. 

Whilst at school, Kenny’s maternal aunt, Rose Vaz, who looked after him, would take him for tiatrs. He loved going into the green room and watching the artistes gearing up for the performance. In 1978, after passing out from St Xavier’s High School, Dhobitalao, Bombay, Kenny started singing for Hindi orchestras, rendering songs of Salma Agha, Runa Laila, Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum. In 1979 onwards he started renditions for various groups, namely Sonraj Productions, Prince Melody, Robin Brothers, and Ali Baba and his Grand Orchestra (by Johnny Whiskey, the Bollywood comedian.) 

During that period, his aunt, who knew his craze for acting, asked tiatrist, Philomena Braz, who stayed in the neighboring building, to introduce Kenny in her tiatr ‘Axechi Doxea’. “It was a comedy role opposite Paul Romy,” he recalls with nostalgia, and also rendered a song which was given to him by Saby Coutinho, and since then his journey into the tiatr industry began in full swing. 

“Philomena Braz was a mother figure in my life,” confesses Kenny, “and she took me to uncle C Alvares, who gave me a small role in his tiatr ‘Patki Nhoi Ghatki’, which was showing for the second round in Bombay then.” He rendered a song too in the tiatr, followed by tiatrs ‘Tuje Dolle’ (1992-93), ‘Mhojem Rogot’ (1995), ‘Atancheo Sunno’, ‘Konnem Lailo Uzo’ and ‘Tujem Durig Mhojea Bhattan’ (1997).  

Late Fr Gill Gonsalves was closely associated with the tiatrists in Mumbai and when Kenny started performing, he was in the Our Lady of Seven Dollars Parish, Marine Lines. “Fr Gill too had a big hand in promoting me in the tiatr world,” revealed Kenny. “He knew all the tiatrists and he would put in a word about me with the tiatr directors and that helped me to get a few shows,” he said. 

Philomena Braz took Kenny to tiatr director Prem Kumar and the real break that he needed was given to him. At that time, a lyricist, Gabru Gomes, who was watching his work on stage, approached him and asked if he was interested in singing. 

“Gabru Gomes was a wonderful person and a down-to-earth human being,” admits Kenny, “it was like God had planned the moment for me where I was getting a break from one of the biggest directors of that time, Prem Kumar.” 

Prem Kumar cast Kenny in his tiatr ‘Noxibacho Divo Paloulo’ in 1982 and he rendered two songs in the said production, followed by tiatrs ‘Vauraddi’, ‘Doiallponn’, ‘Abru’, ‘Tum Modem Poddonaka’ (1988) and ‘Tuje Dis Bhorle (1996). Tiatr ‘Noxibacho Divo Paloulo’ helped him to come down to Goa and it completed over 100 shows successfully. 

Kenny has 9 audio albums to his credit, which include ‘Susie’, ‘Kiss Me I’m Sexy’, ‘Sweet 16’, ‘Maria Concessau’, ‘Crazy Kelai Re’, ‘Swing With Kenny’, ‘Konkani Karnival’, ‘Senorita’ and ‘Ave Maria’ (Devotional). His video albums include ‘Miss Kenya’ and ‘Film Star’. 

Kenny also made his presence felt in video films which include ‘Ghutt’ and ‘Dison Kuddo Aikon Bhero’ by Capucina Alvares, ‘Friends’ by Joywin Fernandes, ‘Guneanvkari Konn?’ by Titta Pretto, ‘Ho Mog Koslo’ by Tony Martin and ‘Hem Mhojem Ghor’ by S Caitan. 

When tiatrs in Mumbai have encountered a slowdown today, Kenny believes the revival of old tiatrs with new artistes will definitely help comeback. “Many new artists are willing to perform,” he said, “and writers of fine calibre will only help in the resurrection of tiatrs in Mumbai. We have a few writers like Carrie and Francis Fernandes, who are presently doing a fine job.”




Iddhar Udhar