Belting out some of his popular hits, Indian rock singer Remo Fernandes wowed a select audience in the Brazilian capital on Tuesday night, bringing otherwise protocol-conscious ministers and ambassadors to the floor and making a "celebration" of India's nascent engagement in the region.
Remo, who is from Goa, was the star singer at the India nite organised by the India Brand Equity Foundation at the Porto Vittoria, a lakeside restaurant, for delegates from Brazil, South Africa and India to celebrate what India´s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath called "a relationship and an engagement like never before".
Around 300 guests were present at the dinner over a largely Indian menu of chicken biryani, curried lamb, lentils, black beans preceded by an assortment of Brazilian appetizers.
Among dignitaries present were the Brazilian and South African foreign ministers, other Brazilian ministers, ambassadors, businessmen from the three countries and members of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's delegation.
The prime minister was not there, but others who were there were National Security Adviser MK Narayanan, who for once let down his reserve and was seen enjoying the evening, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, Sanjaya Baru, the prime minister's media adviser, Navtej Sarna, spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry, and leading lights of the three Indian business chambers who are here in strength to explore opportunities in this region.
Remo, accompanied by his band Pappadams, initially began by singing slower Goan folk songs and Portuguese songs that went down well with the Brazilian guests whose national language is Portuguese. But once he began his peppier numbers, like Yeh Meri Munni and Hamma, Hamma and asked the dinner jacket-wearing audience to join him, ministers and ambassadors took the floor as did many businessmen and their spouses and members of the media.
Remo, who frequently broke into Portuguese, underlined Goa's "Brazilian connection" by mentioning that feni, the local arrack, was made from cashew that was brought to Goa from Brazil.
There was no doubt that India made a splash in a country where it was hardly known before and both the Brazilian and South African ministers underlined the importance of their emerging trilateral cooperation that will take concrete shape with the first IBSA summit in Brasilia on Wednesday, attended by the leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa, the three largest democracies and rising powers of the three continents.