Now, Jesus speaks Konkani
A 1979 Warner Brothers film, based on the gospel of St Luke, has now been dubbed into Konkani. This is an important milestone in the chequered history of Konkani films. In the last four decades, 15 Konkani films have been made in three dialects of the language, which are specific to different communities and different geographical locations. MICHAEL PATRAO takes an overview of the industry
With the dubbing of the film Jesus in Konkani, a new dimension has been added to the saga of Konkani films.
Jesus, based on the gospel of St Luke, was first released by Warner Brothers in 1979 and produced by John Heyman. The film has been dubbed in a number of languages, Konkani being the latest. The Konkani version was premiered at the city of Mangalore recently.
Konkani films have a chequered history and over the past four decades only 15 films have been produced with varying degrees of success.
Konkani has different dialects. While 10 of the 15 films were in the Goan Konkani dialect and came from Goa, three films are in the Mangalore Catholic dialect and two more in the Saraswat dialect.
The earliest films in Konkani were made in Goa, the subject matter being social themes, religious beliefs, triumph of good over evil, trials and tribulations of the common man and the like.
One of the striking features of these films, indeed of all Konkani films, is the melodious music. Be it the Portuguese fado-inspired sad songs or the mando and baila inspired dance songs, they never failed to move the audience. Most of the artistes in the film had a theatre background and all the early films were in black and white. The Konkani films from Goa, produced over the last four decades, include Mogacho Avando, Sukhache Sopan (both directed by Jerry Braganza), Amchem Noxib, Nirmon and Moji Ghorkarn all directed by A Salum, Curtubacho Sounsar directed by Albert da Britona Jivit Amchem Osem and Boglant both directed by Prem Kumar, and Jait, a telefilm directed by Sridhar Bandolkar. Bhuyarantlo Munis (The man from the cave), a Konkani colour film released in the Eighties, was a potboiler in the mould of Hindi films. Perhaps, the only highlight of the film was a medley (baila) comprising folk and popular songs towards the climax. Nevertheless the film was patronised by the die-hard fans of the Konkani language.
Mangalore, which has a sizeable number of Konkani speaking people, made a surprisingly late entry into Konkani films and to date, only three films have been made here.
Teesri Cheet, a film made in the Seventies by Peter Gonsalves, with story and music by the wellknown Konkani composer and singer Wilfy Rebimbus, did not do well. Technical flaws and the fact that the film was made in black and white in 35 mm at a time when colour films was the rule rather than the exception led to its failure. Mogani Moipas, a film made in the Eighties in colour was technically much superior to its predecessor.
Although the story itself was average, the highlight of the film was melodious music scored once again by the ‘Konkan Night ingale’ Wilfy Rebimbus.
Director-Producer Dr Richard Castetino ventured into making Konkani film only after the success of his Tutu film, Bangar Patter.
His Konkani film Boksane (which translates to ‘Forgiveness’) was on a social theme. This Rs 25 lakh production was about a joint family in the Konkani Catholic community and dealt with the conflict between two brothers. Given the economics of making Konkani film, the film was fairly’ successful. Above average technical cal finesse, music by Wilfy Rebimbus, beautiful locales o coastal Karnataka and Andamans contributed to the success of this film.
Tapaswini made by the Konkan speaking Saraswats was a film it a class of its own. Rekha Mavinkurve played the title role and stole the hearts of the viewers K Srinivas Bhat’s role as the wicked postman showcased his versatility as an actor.
Some of the well known names in the Saraswat community formed the cast of the film: B V Baliga (who later became the President ol Konkani Sahitya Academy), S R Balgopal, H V Kamath, V Mangesh Bhat, Dinesh Prabhu, C Upendra Kamath, H Surendra Kamath, R M Kamath, Dr M S Nayak, Sadananda Mallya, K Anantha Bhat, Mohandas Pai and Gokuldas Pai.
It may be significant to note here that a number of Konkani speaking people have contributed to the Indian cinema other than Konkani cinema.
The most notable among them is, of course, the late Guru Dutt, who made a mark with films like Pyasa, Kagaz ke phool and such others.
Others include famous director Shyam Benegal, Jnanpeeth award- winning playwright Girish Karnad, actor turned minister Anant Nag and the late Shankar Nag.
Peter Pereira is a popular Hindi film cinematographer. In recent times Mulki-born Lawrence D’Souza, who shot into limelight with his directoriat debut Saajan, has subsequently directed a number of films.
Now, Jesus speaks Konkani
Clipping (49kbs) - Deccan Herald, 02-05-1999. By Michael Patrao