KONKANI CINEMA BEFORE IFFI!

Versatile: Prashanti Talpankar is one of Goa’s outstanding actresses. She has seen in “Aleesha” which was about injustice to women. Prashanti also in real life went on a 6-day fast to get Dayanand Narvekar to resign from his Speaker’s post in a 1989 sex scandal.

By Rajan Narayan

Isidore Dantas has pointed out in his path-breaking book on Konkani cinema titled Konknni Cholchitram’ that the history of Konkani films go back to pre-Liberation times. The first Konkani filmMhoje Utor’ was released on April 24, 1950. The first post-Liberation film Amchem Noxib’ was made by Frank Fernandes and inspired by the Shankar- Jaikishan duo who provided the music. The film echoes Raj Kapoor’sBarsaat’ and SD Burman’s `Shabnam.’

THANKS to Isidore Dantas, who has written a comprehensive book on the history of Konkani cinema, we know that there were more Konkani films before IFFI came along than after. The first Konkani film was released as far back as 1963, two years before Liberation, and this was “Amchem Noxib” (Our Fate). The film was produced by Frank Fernandes. Frank was associated with Shankar-Jaikishan, the famous musical duo of Hindi films. Frank was also influenced by Raj Kapoor’s film “Barsaat” and SD Burman’s “Shabnam.” The cast of the Konkani film “Nirmonn” (released in 1965) was C Alvares, Shalini, Jacinto Vaz and Bal Kolaker.
The late comedy king of tiatr Jacinto Vaz was the Charlie Chaplin of Konkani tiatr. He was a major player in Konkani cinema. The film “Nirmonn” pays tribute to St Francis Xavier and features the 10th year exposition of the relics of St Francis Xavier. The inspiration & support for this film came from Bharat Bhooshan, Jalal Agha & Farid Jalal. The songs in the film “Nirmonn” were for the first time recorded on His Master’s Voice HMV.
The third landmark in Konkani films was “Sukhachem Sopon” (Happy Dreams) and released on September 9, 1966. It was produced by Helen Productions. The actors were Jerry Braganza and a little boy called T Laxman. The boy talks of his impressions of growing up in the world. The other Konkani actors who are well known are Alfred Rose (star of the tiatr “Arozin”), June Maria and Srirang Narvekar. The songs were recorded on HMV. It was the first Konkani film to be made in color. In a tribute to St Francis Xavier there’s the song – “Vhor vhor ga Saiba, tujhe borabor vhor…” (Take, take Saiba, take along with you)
A woman called Shalini Mardolkar broke into the elite club of male producers. In 1969 “Mhoji Ghokarn’n” was produced by Shalini Mardolkar and A Salam. Salam was the financier of the film. It was based on the Hindi film “Taqdeer.” The music was by Frank Fernandes. The other actors were Tatoo Velenkar and Rita Rose. The most popular song was “Happy birthday…” in the kantar mode. The recording was by Agnel Fernandes. This was the first Konkani film made by Shalini Mardolkar.
The 1972 film “Jivit Amchem Oxem” was produced by Baab Muthu Krishna Das, his banner was Ambika Films. The actors were Betty Naz, Dr Shiresh Ramani, Cecilia Michado, Felicio Cardozo. The writer of the lyrics of the film was none other than Dr Manohar Sardesai, who also wrote the famous, much loved Konkani poem-song “Bebeanchem Kazar”(The wedding of the frogs).


The next landmark film was “Kortubancho Sonvsar” produced by Albert D Britona. The theatrist Rico Rod played a major role in the film. It was the first modern film. It has six hit songs including “Chedeyancha mogak…” In 1973 there was “Tisri Chit” (The Third Letter). It was produced by Willy Rabim Dus. “Tisri Chit” was about a love affair told through an exchange of letters. “Boglanntt” followed in 1977 and was directed Muttubab Krishna Das. The patron financier was Prem Kumar and the star heroine Rita Rose. This film was inspired by the tiatr “No Vacancy.” It may be noticed that most of the film producers and directors were from Goa’s considerable community of theatrists.
The film “Mogi Ani Mopias” was made by United Youngsters Company. They had made an earlier film too, the chief of youngsters was Captain Mervin J Pinto. This was the first Konkani film in 35mm format. “Bhuanrantlo Monis” was made by famous musician Chris Perry. Chris Perry was the most outstanding singer, he it was who took Bombay by storm with Lorna by his side. It is popularly said that Chris Perry set the Mandovi river on fire.
“Bhuierantlo Munis” (Caveman) was the first Konkani color film and had an orchestra with saxophone and clarinet players. Other Konkani films include “Jana Mana” by Ramesh Baab Kamat, a student of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune, was made in 1980. Then there was “Gireshtkai”.
Bab Krishna Das with the support of Gemini Studios and which was based on the famous novel by Lambert Mascarenhas titled “Sorrowing Lies My Land” (published in 1970).
In conclusion this is to say that there have not been many Konkani film after or in spite of IFFI coming to Goa in 2003. Particularly in the light of the fact that in the last eight years when the 50% subsidy for making films in Konkani was stopped. The only Konkani film which has broken even financially and internationally recognized, awarded and celebrated, is “Nachom-ia Kumpasar” produced and directed by Bardroy Barretto.

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