Freddie Mercury: The Bohemian who once lived in India

TWF IBNS By TWF IBNS | 17 Nov 2018 11:11:17 IST

Hollywood movie BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY encapsulating the life of Freddie Mercury, which released at theatres in India on Friday, is a special film for his fans here owing to the iconic British singer songwriter's Indian roots. Well, the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen had lived in Mumbai or to be more precise in Maharashtra.

Freddie Mercury-composer of the popular number BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (5th Sept 1946 – 24th Nov 1991) is the central figure around whom the movie has been made.

One of the early victims of HIV/AIDS, Mercury was bisexual and at the end of his life, he was living with his partner Jim Hutton. While homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK in 1967, there was a debate on whether he was openly gay or hid his sexual orientation. He divulged a day before his death that he had AIDS.

Directed by Bryan Singer, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY stars American actor Rami Malek as Mercury. Actor Malek though born in Los Angeles is a son of Egyptian immigrant parents like Mercury's Indian roots.

Who was Freddie:

Born as Farrokh Bulsara, known professionally as Freddie Mercury, was a British singer-songwriter and record producer, best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen.

He was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Mercury wrote numerous hits for Queen, including Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen, Somebody to Love, Don't Stop Me Now, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and We Are the Champions.


Now the movie:

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY follows singer Freddie Mercury's life leading to Queen's Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985. Directed by Bryan Singer, it is written by Anthony McCarten, produced by Graham King and former Queen manager Jim Beach. Rami Malek's performance in the movie has already earned the attention of critics and fans.


An unexpected death and a harsh confession:

Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS, having confirmed the day before his death that he had contracted the disease. Freddie in the early 1970s had a long-term relationship with a special woman in his life, Mary Austin, whom he met through guitarist Brian May. He lived with Austin for several years in West Kensington, London.

But a few years later he got involved a male American record executive at Elektra Records. He later confessed his sexual orientation to Mary Austin ending their romantic relationship but started a new chapter with her as a friend.

He had later met his lover Jim Hutton who was at his bedside till the end and refused to leave him despite his illness. Hutton himself died in 2010 and was HIV positive.


First public performance:

India was the venue where the upcoming international star first got the chance of showcasing his talent. Freddie’s first public singing was in the school choir. The origin of Queen goes back to a band which he had formed in school. At St. Peter’s, Freddie and four of his classmates formed their first band, The Hectics.

They soon became the unofficial ‘school band’, appearing at fetes and school functions. They would cover hits of Cliff Richard, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Fats Domino, the website said.

Later, Freddie was at St Peter’s, his parents moved back to Zanzibar. In February 1963 Freddie joined his parents at their Zanzibar flat and started living there.

Freddie and Queen:

Freddie and his band then on ruled the music charts as they performed some of the greatest hits of all times over the next few years. He led a solo career while performing with Queen and occasionally served as a producer and guest musician for other artists.


Strong India connection:

The singer was born in Zanzibar, an island off Tanzania, as Farrokh Bulsara. Mercury was of a Parsi descent. He had moved to the Indian city of Mumbai and lived several years in the financial capital of the nation. In fact, their grandparents’ hometown was Bulsar in the Gujarat province of western India. It was from the town’s name that Freddie’s family took the name, said.

The website further said: \"While his parents and his sister Kashmira resided in Bombay, 8-year-old Farrokh was sent in February 1955 to St. Peter’s, an English style boarding school in Panchgani, a small town 50 miles away from Bombay where his education was in better hands.\"