A drama ends
Celestino Alvares, popularly known as C Alvares, was born on August 11, 1924, in Saligao, in a Catholic family nicknamed fokanneager (comedians). His debut on the tiatr stage at the age of seven, was when he sang a comic song taught by his cousin the late Champion Alvares, himself a formidable tiatrist of yesteryears.
When Alvares went to Bombay in search of livelihood, Champion Alvares was there to introduce him on the tiatr stage in his own drama Bhattkar Goencho ani Cuzner Bombaimcho. Alvares sang five songs on that occasion and enthralled the large crowd. Soon enough he came to the notice of Joao Agostinho Fernandes (father of Konkani tiatr), J P Souzalin (known for religious dramas) and Alexinho de Candolim.
In course of time, Alvares began composing duets and started singing with famed female impersonators of the Konkani stage like Remmie Colaco, Romaldo D’Souza, Vincent de Saligao, Star of Arossim, Andrew, etc. It was the age when no female would dare to act on the stage.
It is probably from the need to have a female to accompany him while singing the duets that he became one of the pioneers to bring girls to enact the female. Miss Mohana, who was acting in Hindi movies, was ushered on the tiatr stage by Alvares. Shalini too, who was a popular Marathi stage actress, joined tiatr because of Alvares. If several girls are popular on the Konkani stage today, it is primarily due to his efforts.
The talented Saliganvkar will always be remembered for his poignant duets, typically Goan, on a variety of social themes. He picked on every foible of his community and sang it on the stage and they here heard on HMV records. His vocals were perhaps run of the mill but the topics he selected for composing the song were definitely noteworthy. Therefore he was duly credited as an “ace director” and “patxai Konkani duettancho” (emperor of Konkani duets).
Alvares must have scripted more than 100 plays during his lifetime, the 100th being Tuje Dolle. Though he was not known so much as a forceful playwright, one has to remove his hat to his exceptional ability to mould artistes to suit the specific role he had in mind. He was one of the best directors of Konkani theatre.
He has performed in Konkani movies like Amchem Noxib, Nirmonn, Mhoji Ghorkarn, etc. He gave evidence that though some people consider tiatrists as mediocre performers, they could face the movie cameras without batting an eyelid. However, his excellent role in Nirmonn, is definitely memorable. The movie was later adapted in Hindi and called Takdeer (of course, without the actors from the Konkani film).
Alvares also produced a video cassette known as Faxi Mogachi, which achieved much popularity. Despite his advancing age, he was in the process of producing another video movie but death called it curtains for him. The best dressed tiatrist--on and off the stage--probably never believed that he could age or die.
Even at the age of 60, tall and handsome Alvares was the evergreen hero of the Konkani stage. His beautiful blue eyes had a strange way of mystifying the audience. Girls loved to act with him. There was hardly any other actor who shone so brightly as Alvares as far as the delivery of dialogue, stage sense, emoting and dress code mattered.
Alvares was not only popular but a very friendly, engaging person and gentleman to the core. The Konkani stage is losing all its stalwarts one by one, and among them he will be the one badly missed for his precious contribution to its immense popularity among the Catholic community of Goa spread all over the world. He has performed not only in Goa and Bombay but even in East Africa, the Gulf, England, etc.
Alvares always maintained that theatre was his first love and that all those connected with theatre were like a part of his family. Hence it was quite natural that the Goan stage was stunned by the news of his demise on February 27 morning at the age of 74 years. He died in Bombay of cardiac arrest.
Speaker Tomazinho Cardozo, a theatre personality himself, condoled the death saying that C Alvares was the greatest Konkani artist, who served Goan tiatr for the last 60 years. Srirang Narvekar, who has been associated with tiatr for a long time, John Gomes, a tiatr columnist now, veteran folk-artist Robin Vaz, tragedienne Jessie and several others too expressed their sorrow at Alvares’ passing away.
A condolence meeting was held at the Woodlands Hotel in Margao, where several tiatrist gathered to pay their tribute to the “ace director”. Veteran actor-director-comedian M Boyer wept when he heard the sad news.
At the Margao meeting, singing actor Wilson Mazarello said that no man has given to Konkani stage as much as the late C Alvares. Fr Planton Faria said that Alvares was a formidable pillar of the Konkani stage.
Perhaps even the Konkani tiatr may die a natural death one fine day (it is already on its last legs) but the name of C Alvares will probably outlive it. Of the 100 years that tiatr has been going on, he has dominated the scene for nearly 60 years.