Sunday, August 2, 2009

Konkani Cinema - By Andrew Greno Viegas

Despite getting off to a fine start years ago, Konkani cinema doesn't appear
to have come a long way

- By Andrew Greno Viegas

Goa's relation with cinema can be traced right down to the era of silent films. Not only did Goan musicians playa major role after the advent of the silent film early in the last century, even some Goan actors too played lead roles in more than :40 films each, namely, Ermeline Cardoz, Mohana Cabral, Prem Kumar and others. Besides, we have had a host of Goan playback singers and others in the film world.

Even the first female heroine in an Indian film was of Goan origin. She is Kamala belonging to Kamat family from Assnora. She did the lead role in Dadasaheb Phalke's second film Bhasmmasur Mohini produced in 1913. Kamala's mother Durgabai also featured in the film. Kavas Lord, father of Kersi Lord, the talented music director of Indian silent movies, remembers that Goans 'far outnumbered others in the cinema orchestras with musicians like Sebastian T. Fernandes', Domnic Pereira, Jose Menezes, Manuel Alphonso musically complementing the screen action in the silent films.

The second film was Frank Films' Amchem Noxib released in 1963, almost after 12 years, but during this period some good Konkani films were abandoned halfway like G.M.B. Rodrigues' Sukhi Konn?, C. Alvares' Atancho Sounsar, etc. Amchem Noxib was the most successful Konkani movie ever made. It had a good story, lovely comedy and memorable songs. It was produced by Frank Fernand of Curchorem Goa. Music was also provided by Frank Fernand, who was responsible for musiical arrangement for many Hindi films. It was directed by A. Salam. The starcast included C. Alvares, Rita Lobo in the lead.

Konkani full length feature films of the '50s & '60s

The first full length Konkani film was Mogacho Aunddo released in the year 1950. It was produced under the banner of Etica Pictures (Exchange Talkies of India, China and Africa). The man behind this venture was Jerry Braganza from Mapusa, Bardez Goa. It was based on the Konkani novel Mogachi Vodd by Dioguinho D'Mello. The music was by Alfred Almeida. The cast included Jerry Braganza himself as the hero and Lena Fernandes as the heroine besides Lewis M. Ratus, James Braganza played a memorable role in this classic movie.

KONKANI BLOCKBUSTER: The formidable cast of Amchem Noxib

Then came Frank Fernand's production entitled Ninnon released in 1966. It was diirected by A. Salam and had superb musical by Frank Fernand himself. C. Alvares, Shalini Mardolkar were the main stars in this film. Later, Frank Fernand went on to produce Hindi films as well, to name a few, Priya starring Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja; Aahat starring Jaya Bhaduri and Dr. Shreeram Lagoo. Both were offbeat movies which didn't do well at the box office- a big loss to Frank Fernand and for the Konkani cinema lovers too because we would have got at least two more Konkani movies instead.

It was Jerry Braganza who added another feather to his cap in 1967 by releasing his second Konkani film Sukhachem Sopon affter a long gap. It was released under the banner of 'Helen Productions'. Jerry Braganza himself acted as the hero opposite Fatima in that film. The lyrics were by Alfred Rose, music by M. Alphonso.

The fifth film, Moji Gorkarn was produced by Shalini Mardolkar and A Salam under the banner of 'Movierama' . It was written and directed by A. Salam . Frank Fernand provided the lyrics and music for this film. Shalini herself was the heroine of this film and C Alvares, the hero.
The first Konkani film to be released in the '70s was Cortubbancho Sounsar . It was produced by Albert de Brittona under the banner of 'Brittona Film' and starring in it were Rico Rod, Fatima, Seby and others. Music was by M. Alphonso, dialogues by Reginaldo Fernaandes and it was diirected by Ravindra Vyas. The following year, 1971, saw the release of Ambi ka Films' Jivir Amchem Oxem. It was produced by Muthukrishnan Das and directed by Y V Rao. It had dialogues and lyrics by famous Goan poet Dr. Manohar Rai Sardessai. Its music was by Vijay Bhaskar. The star-cast included Dr. Suresh Ramani and Betty Naz in the lead .

Later in 1975, Muthukrishnan Das produced another Konkani film Boglantt, under the banner of 'Ambika Films'. He himself directed this film. The story was by Prem Kumar, lyrics and music by Alfred Rose and starring in it were Prem Kumar and Rita Rose.

In 1977 United Youngsters of Mangalore released Mog ani Moipas. one of the first collour movies In Konkani. The man behind this production was Capt. Mervyn J. Pinto. It was directed by N. L. R. Sahyadri. Providing the lyrics and music for this film was Wilfy Reimbus and its stars included Ossie Sequeira and Leena Fernandes. Another Konkani colour movie Bhuiarantlo Munis was released in Goa under the banner of 'Chripton Motion Pictures'. It was coproduced by Tony Coutinho and Chris Perry. The story, lyrics and music came from Chris Perry. The star-cast included Ivo Almeida, Helen Pereira and C Alvares.

Konkani full length feature films of the '70s till date.
In 1978, Konkan Pictures' Teesri Chitt was released in Mangalore. It was produced by Peter Gonsalves and diirected by G. D'Souza. Its music was by Henry T. D'Souza. The leading actors were Herrald Moraes and Stany Pereira. Two years later, Gurukripa Films Tapaswini was reeleased in Karnataka.Its starcast included Rekha Mavinkure and B. V. Baliga. This film was followed by Vikas Films' Jana Mana released in 1981. It was produced and directed by K. Ramesh Kamath. B. V. Baliga, Sumana Rao starred in this film.

Many Konkani tele-films were produced since the '80s like Bonifacio Dias' Zulum, X. Almeida's Time Pass, Pundalik Adkonkar's Akant, etc. Sudesh Lotlikar's Zait is said to be the first teleefilm to be telecast on Mumbai Doordarshan. Besides, he has produced Konkani video films like Avoi. Many Goa Doordarshan produced video films have been really good, Tulsi, 'Maryan', Marnkatto, Sharada, Sweekruti, Sangati, Moronn, Tunch mhoji Laxmi, Tyag starring Amita N. Salatry and Girish Kelekar, Hans Mure Hans being some of them.
Bonifacio Dias has to his credit some wonderful Konkani video-films like Doth Dennem, Zulum, Zababdari, starring Anil Kumar, Ulhas Buyanv and others, Moriad and To Dis Udelo. Kazara Uprant produced in Mangalore has music by Wilfy Rebimbus, John D'Silva's 'Xinn' was also a very good video film. F. Cardozo's telefilm Arxeant Poi starring Santan Pegado is also to be noted. C. Alvares' Faxi Mogachi also became popular starring Shalini Mardolkar, Peter Dias and other professional Konkani actors. Rajendra Talak's Situ was a very popular video film of the '90s.
Dekhani Durai produced by Hema Naik and Vijay Pai Khot starring Ashalata Wabgaonkar was a hit video film of the last decade. Hilary Production Bhavachem Dennem produced by Mr. Norman was a popular Konkani video film, besides Upkar filmed in foreign countries with foreign star-cast was superb. The latest video film released in the theatres by D’Costa Telefilm Productions’ Kantteantlem Ful produced by Arnold D’Costa is a well appreciated contemporary film. Directed by Dyanesh Moghe, its lyrics are by Anil Kumar and music by Agostinho da Cruz and the star-cast includes Roseferns, Chitra, Imran Mohamed, Suchita Narvekar and Smita Shirodkar.

She was the first Goan film-heroine

Ermeline Cardoz, a native of Diwar Goa born on 7th May 1908, was a famous heroine from the silent era Of the Indian screen. She was known as “Marry Pickford of lndia" and was often called by the name "Sudhabala". Her first film was Hothal Padmini (1925). She was a good dancer and a well known Konkani stage actress too. She married Saib Rocha, one of the . leading Konkani stage actors. The most popular tiatr in which she acted was Lusitanian Dramatic Co's Alma Vetat Sorgar on 17th October 1932.
She was killed in an accident on sets of a film. She acted in Cinema Girl (1930) opposite Prithviraj Kapoor. Besides she had acted in around 40 films, most of them had English titles as was the style of Indian films those times.
Some of her other films were Daring Damsel (1933), Vanishing Hope, Red Signal, Wooing Nightingale, Ram Barose, Kicks of Kismet, Love is Blind, Hoor-E-Bagdad, Jagadguru, Gulshan-E-Arab, and Children of the Storm.

Konkani Short Films/ Documentary Films

Religious Konkani short films were made even in the '40s One was on the life of Jesus Christ like Jinn-Morn Jesuchem shown at Swastic Cinema, Old Pathe Cinema, Mumbai in 1948. Thereafter, Hakich Jinn ani Morn Jesus Christachem was released on 10th April 1949 at Capitol Cinema, Mumbai. It is said that many Konkani similar short films have been produced as according to the old issues of the periodical' Ave Maria'. The message of Fatima is a documentary film on Our Lady of Fatima. 'Nossa Senhora do Fatima' was released in Goa in.1950. It was produced by AI Jerry Braganza. Sant Francis Xavier is another documentary film in Konkani on the exposition of St. Francis Xavier in 1952 also produced and directed by Al Jerry Braganza. This documentary was also available in Hindi, English and Portuguese version also.
Don Bosco is a dubbed film from the Italian feature film by Leandro Castellani starring Ben Gazzara as Don Bosco. It isa 30 minutes film in Konkani. It was also dubbed in many other Indian languages. Another teleplay Mhoji Kanni produced, directed and written by Dharmanand Vernekar for Directorate of Adult Education in 1992, was an educational documentary. Goenchem Mannik-Padr Jose Vaz is a documentary film based on the life of Fr. Jose Vaz produced by Rachol Seminary.
O Bai is the first and the only Konkani short film to have been honoured internationally. It was produced under the banner of “Aur Kya? Films" by Neeta Jain Duhaut. It was filmed in 16 mm (colour) in Goa and Pune in 1997. The leading role was played by Dnyanesh Moghe.
Documenting Konkani Cinema Heritage
A museum or an archive for Konkani cinema and music is a must as it will arouse the interest of Konkani people in safeguarding their heritage. This will help in preserving for posterity Konkani film posters, photographs, lobby cards, Konkani gramophone records and other vintage film publicity material, now, on the verge of extinction. For example, nobody knows the whereabouts of the first Konkani film Mogacho Aundo. This black and white nitrate based film is almost forgotten and most probably destroyed. Even a big colour poster of Mogacho Aundo lying somewhere is 50 per cent destroyed by silver fish and requires restoration. Is anybody interested?

Suggestions for development of Konkani cinema:
I. Every year financial support in the form of subsidy or in any other way to at least five producers to produce five Konkani films in that particular year.
2. Any Konkani film exhibited in the cinema houses or elsewhere should be given tax exemption in other words all Konkani films should be shown tax free to encourage exhibition of Konkani films so that the ticket rates are reduced and the common people are encouraged to go and watch it at a concessional rate.
3. Any Konkani film produced by an individual or a company or a foreign party of people from outside the Goa should be supported by all without any discrimination .
4. The Goa Government should make it compulsory for every cinema house in Goa to screen at least one Konkani film for at least one day a month.
5. A film city is required in Goa, infrastructure and technical assistance should be made available as at present the producer has to depend on equipment from neighbouring States. Hence a fullfledged studio is a must.
6. Konkani film songs and other Konkani videos, programmes based on Konkani films should be frequently broadcast on radio and T.V.
7. Workshops, seminars, film appreciation courses for awareness on Konkani films must be conducted.
8. Exhibition of Konkani cinema posters and other publicity material like the lobby cards, photographs, song synopsis booklets, etc. must be displayed.
9. Konkani Film festivals must be held every year, festival of all the old Konkani films must be held to revive the classic Konkani cinema.
10.Every year 'Konkani Cinema Day' should be celebrated on the 24'h April to commemorate the release of the first Konkani film on this day in 1950.

Some facts to ponder ...
I. Not a single Indian film is so far dubbed in Konkani.
2. Every month there are new releases of big films in Marathi, Kannada and other languages, but in Goa there is not a single release of a big celluloid Konkani film even once a year. (For more than ten years now, not a single big film has been released!)
3. Not a single Konkani feature film has been produced or partially financed by the Goa Government so far.
4. During the last 20 years only three Konkani full-length celluloid motion pictures were released. All three were produced by non-Goans. They are Girestkai by a Tamil, Bogsanhe by a Mangalorian and Jeevanacho Khell by Karwar based party.
5. Recently, the Goa Government has decided to produce a film (telefilm?) , with a budget of Rs 40 lakh on Goa's Freedom struggle. The film is to be made in Hindi or Marathi then get it dubbed n Konkani.

{Andrew Greno Viegas is a freelance writer and contributes articles to various publications. His published works include “Fifty Years of Konkani Cinema" released to commemorate the Golden lubilee of Konkani Cinema.]


ANIL KUMAR (Lakshmanrekha)
ASHALATA (Apne Paraye, etc.)
CELINE D'SOUZA (Toofan Takkar)
CEZAR D'MELLO (Mera Yaar Mera Dushman, Pukar, Saat Hindustani)
DURGA KHOTE (Amarjoti (1936), etc.)
DURGABAI KAMAT (Bhasmasur Mohini (1913)
ERMELINE CARDOZ (Society Butterjly! Veer Kesarii, Lady of the Lake, etc)
JAYASHREE KAMULKAR (Mehandi, Didi,.Shejqrirets.)
KAMALA GOKHALE (Bhasmasur Mohini (1913) .
KUNDA BHAI BHAGAT (Amar Bupqli, Rarzpgkar, etc.)
MOHANA CABRAL (Aag, Nagina (1951), Patanga, etc;)
MEENAKSHI SHIRODKAR (Brahrnachari, etc.)
MIKE MEHTA (Doli sajake rakhna)
PREM KUMAR (Unchi Haveli, Bandish, Mera Salam, etc. )
ROBIN VAZ (Aap ki izzatbachao, etc.)
SHALlNI MARDOLKAR (Taqdeer, Kora Kagaz, Solaken) .
SHUBHLAXMI MANDREKAR (Bhaijaan, Taramati, Shoubadra, etc.)
TITA PRETTO (Love in Goa)
VARSHA USGAONKAR (Do Matwale, Tiranga, Dood kaKarz, etc.),,
…….. and many more.

(GOA TODAY – Issue June 2002)
gaspar almeida,

{Created by Ulysses Menezes & Gaspar Almeida - Kuwait-based Goans}

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A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.