For Goa's film connection, read on
By Frederick Noronha, Panaji, Nov 30: As Goa fights hard to ward off assertionss that it has little or no film culture, one need only flip through a 257-page book that traces this region's links with movies to lay such doubts to rest.
"Location Goa", by journalist Mario Cabral e Sa, was released during International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2006, but is yet to be widely circulated or noticed even here.
And what better time to go through it than another IFFI.
The film festival shifted here in November 2004. But after investing huge funds, the glitches in the past years resulted in hints from New Delhi that it may be shifted out.
Regional film industries have protested against Goa being kept as the permanent venue, and 'lack of a film culture' has frequently been cited against Goa's case.
Author Cabral e Sa has researched scripts for Goa-related feature films and documentaries. He has authored 16 books too.
"Location Goa" also makes a case to suggest that Goa "from a cinematic point of view... has a charm of its own, a tradition, culture, and both man-made and natural environment which are unmatchable".
Director Shyam Benegal writes in the book: "I visited Goa for the first time in 1967, a few years after its liberation from Portuguese rule. It was an extraordinary experience. Goa was both a part and apart from the rest of India."
The book also throws up delightful nuggets of information - for instance, the fact that over 90 films have been shot with Goa as their backdrop.
Actresses from Goa like Ermelinda Cardoso (Sudhabala) have played an important role in the silent movie era, says the book. Cabral e Sa suggests that Cardoso - who used the stage name of Sudhabala - probably also "introduced Prithviraj Kapoor to Indian cinema". Sudhabala starred in more than 30 films and acted opposite Prithviraj Kapoor in "Cinema Girl".
Journalist-critic-screenwriter Deepa Gahlot comments that "films too numerous to list have been shot in Goa" and, besides Bollywood, these include international films like "The Sea Wolves", "The Bourne Supremacy", "Bride and Prejudice", and "Marigold".
She adds: "Hindi films have had many characters with (Goan) names like Pinto, Braganza, Fernandes, Gonsalves, D'Costa and D'Silva; lots of Monicas, Rosies, Michaels and Monas. Two films with Goan heroines named 'Julie' have been made, and the legendary Bobby was also a Braganza from Goa. One of Amitabh Bachchan's most loved characters (Amar Akbar Anthony) was called Anthony Gonsalves."
But the critic suggests that some films showed Goa as a stereotype. On her list of best films linked to Goa, Gahlot lists "Jaal" (1952), "Johar Mehmood in Goa" (1965), "Saat Hindustani" (1969), "Bombay to Goa" (1972), "Bobby" (1973), "Julie" (1975), "Ek Duuje Ke Liye" (1981), "Pukar" (1983), "Trikal" (1985) and "Saagar" (1985).
Also on her list are "Jalwa" (1987), "Goonj" (1989), "Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na" (1993), "Khamoshi-The Musical" (1996), "Josh" (2000), "Musafir" (2004), "Dhoom" (2004), "My Brother Nikhil" (2005), "Shabd" (2005), and "Holiday" (2006).
Some films on Goa like "Saat Hindustani" dwell on the fight against Portuguese colonialisation, or a Bollywoodised version of it. Others like "Trikal" look at changes brought in Goa by its diverse rulers, from Portuguese to the Indian government.
"Hindi cinema represents Goans as people on the margins of society," complains journalist Jerry Pinto, himself a Mumbai-based Goan.
There's also a chapter on local Konkani film, whose history was almost forgotten, till some fans of it pointed out that its roots extended five decades-with films mostly created by expat Goans often based in Mumbai (then Bombay).
This book also lists the big stars who have "pranced and danced on the sets in Goa". They include Amitabh, Sanjay Dutt, Aishwarya Rai, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar.
This book also compares past IFFIs held in Goa - some full with traffic jams, extravagance and political gamesmanship, and others "more relaxed, more focused on serious cinema".
(Frederick Noronha can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )