In the month of Valentine’s Day, here’s a throwback to how the mid-20th century city romanced.
Wooing and wedding changed after Bombay’s inaugural swing show on September 15, 1948. The highlight was Frank Fernand’s original piece, Prabhat, inspired by an audience with Gandhiji. Pacing musicians for genres classic to cabaret, Mickey Correa became the first Indian to form an independent orchestra, roping in Chic Chocolate, George Pacheco, Johnny Baptist, Eddie Tavares and Leslie Weeks.
The young in love hung out at a much-adored cafe. The soaring passions Freddy and Betty Bombelli indulgently witnessed, at both their Breach Candy and Churchgate branches, delighted those Swiss restaurateurs. Propelling plenty of prem kahaanis, Bombelli’s cast a spell over everyone walking in. When its Polish pianist paved the way for a three-piece band, the dance floor livened up with jazzy jiving at packed “jam sessions”. Georgie the singer-pianist, Darryl the guitarist and Philip the drummer made a melodic trio, for bopping collegians who pestered them for request songs.
A veritable haven away from home, Bombelli’s was where lovers locked looks, passed perfumed notes and dared dangerous liaisons distanced from prying parents. It was where my parents celebrated when mum accepted the pater’s proposal. Cheers!