Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why Konkani cinema gets viewed with one eye ...

Why Konkani cinema gets viewed with one eye ...
... or, why Goa needs to build itself as a better destination for culture

By Tomazinho Cardozo
tomazinho at

In November 2004, Goans witnessed one of their region's greatest cultural
bonanza, the International Film Festival of India in Panjim. I call it a
cultural bonanza because it involved the screening of films in four to five
theatres and showcasing of Goa's culture right from the Dempo House to
Miramar beach.

If about 1500 delegates witnessed the films, over 25000 people enjoyed the
cultural programs presented on the Mandovi riverfront every day. On specific
days, the audience crossed 50,000. Throughout the nine days programs,
thousands of Goan artistes performed and a few hundred thousands of Goans
enjoyed. However, dissenting voices are being heard about its continuance in
Goa this year. Whether IFFI should or should not be once again organized is
a very serious matter.

Although it is 55 years now since the first Konkani Film 'Mogacho
Anvddo' was produced by AL Jerry Braganza, Konkani cinema has not
seen bright days till date -- with few exceptions such as films like
'Amchem Noxib' and 'Nirmonn'. There are various reasons for this
state of Konkani Cinema. Goa has communal harmony but no cultural
harmony. It is evident from the fact that a Konkani 'Nattok' is
overwhelmingly witnessed by Hindus while a Konkani 'Tiatr' is
patronized by Christians. Commercially, the 'Tiatr' is very
successful as each 'Tiatr' completes hundreds of shows, and that too
with priced tickets for entry.

The same does not take place in case of 'Nattoks'. The audience of Konkani
cinema is also the same. It is due to this reason that Konkani cinema has
adversely suffered in the past, and continues to suffer even today. Recent
examples being Konkani films like 'Aleesha' and 'Sood'.

However, if you take for example a Hindi Cinema, both of Goa's major
communities enjoy it without any hesitation. That would suggest that an
experiment of the type of a Hindi cinema in Konkani is needed, in order to
make Konkani Cinema commercially viable. It is time to gear our efforts in
that direction. In view of this, the continuation of the IFFI in Goa
acquires more importance. By organizing the IFFI one thing is sure: Goa will
not lose anything, on the contrary, it will gain something.

As an artiste from the cultural field, I am of the strong opinion
that the IFFI should continue to be organized in Goa. The question
whether the festival should continue here or not; that should have
been asked before the infrastructure was created. Crores of rupees
have already been spent on the development of infrastructure of an
international standard. Now it is time to get the benefit out of
that expenditure. In what way will it harm Goa if IFFI is continued
to be organized here? And what benefit would Goa get if IFFI is not
organized here this year? I think we should not look at IFFI through
the prism of politics. Instead, today, we should concentrate on
finding ways and means to organize it in a better way.

Last year, the IFFI was organized in Goa for the first time. There must have
been many mistakes committed by the organizers, as it was their maiden
venture. Even I brought to the notice of the then chief minister, Manohar
Parrikar, certain glaring blunders in the planning of the presentation of
Goa's culture during IFFI. The chief minister rectified the mistakes
immediately. However such mistakes should not be intentional, because the
communal harmony prevailing in Goa should be protected, preserved and
promoted under any circumstances. And this can be achieved by giving due
representation to cultural aspects of all communities of people.

Organization of an event like IFFI, I feel, does not require staging of
cultural programs as it was done last year, although it attracts the
involvement of more people. However, the screening of films in various parts
of Goa, like last year, may be continued. Emphasis should be laid on
obtaining copies of old Konkani films and screening them during the festival
in a special slot. This is not done anywhere in the world where
international film festivals are organized but let it be the uniqueness of
IFFI in Goa. Continuation of IFFI in Goa, besides numerous other benefits,
will definitely help in strengthening the film culture in Goa.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tomazinho Cardozo, besides being a politician (and former
Speaker of the Goa assembly), has long been associated with the field of
Konkani culture. He is known for the plays he has staged, and a vast number
of other popular cultural products he has catalysed over the last three
decades. (GOANET.ORG)

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