With the passing away of Manohar Parrikar, Goans feel a void at this moment. The quintessential man, the face of Goa was high in josh until his last breath. And it was this energy and determination, power and will, with which he created a unique Goa during his reign, the success of which we are currently seeing and will continue to see in the years to come. There wasn’t a sphere he didn’t tend to, from art and culture, to language and history, museums and architecture, and cinema, his contribution has been immeasurable.
In tune with music
Goa is synonymous with music and Parrikar played a part in supporting and promoting this art form. “In the various music projects that I worked on with the government, he always emphasised on quality without worrying too much about the fees,” recalls musician Mukesh Ghatwal.
Playback singer Gautami Hede meanwhile highlights the infrastructural work that Parrikar undertook like the Inox complex, Sanskruti Bhavan, all the Ravindra Bhavans across Goa.
Fadista Sonia Shirsat makes special mention of how music teachers are now employed to teach music in schools, while former principal of Goa College of Music, Pandit Kamalakar Naik is grateful to Parrikar for allotting a special space for the Goa College of Music in 2001. “Earlier the college was at Kala Academy and we were given four rooms with a small office. This was not enough,” he recalls. Naik states that Parrikar understood the need for this and told him of a complex that was coming up at Altinho. This, Naik was told, would be given to the music college and the Goa College of Architecture, which was at that time operating in Campal, where the Goa College of Home Science is presently based. “When I went to see the space, I realised that a small space had been marked out. I then told him that we needed much more. After further talks, a bigger space was granted and we shifted to Altinho in 2001,” he says.
Boosting Goa’s culture
Manohar Parrikar has also worked on the promotion of Goan culture. Chairman, Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, Prashant Naik says that besides providing infrastructure for IFFI, another initiative by Parrikar is Ravindra Bhavan, Canacona.
Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar who was part of ‘Goa Cultural Policy 2007’ committee under the leadership of the then Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar says: “During his tenure, Goa was the first state to draft a cultural policy and this draft was soon implemented and came into force. That is why the artisans and craftsmen of Goa got incentives in the form awards and other policies. Also, the budget allocation for the field of art and culture was enhanced under his guidance.”
The ‘Goa Cultural Policy 2007’ was initiated in order to utilise the culturally creative potential of the people of Goa at the local, national and international levels. It was a roadmap for cultural activities in the state.
In terms of promotion of culture in Goa, Mahendra Alvares’ Ancestral Goa Museum comes to mind. And Alvares states that Parrikar was a fan of the space. “We had invited him for a book release at the museum. He had just returned after visiting Chokhi Dhani in Jaipur which has live performances. It was he who suggested that this should be started here,” remembers Alvares. “He had a vision of what would go a long way in enhancing the culture of Goa,” he says.
Parrikar also was an inspiration in the formation of the voluntary youth organisation YUVA, in Mala. “He always made it a point to visit us and discuss issues,” recalls Raghuvir Mahale. “When he visited us on his birthday, he appreciated our eco-friendly Ganesh dekhava. The following year he made it a point to come for the launch of our Ganesh idol.”
Setting stage for theatre
Fondly remembered for introducing the International Film Festival of India in Goa, many will agree that in doing so, he ushered in a new era for filmmaking in Goa. But it was not just the film fraternity which benefitted from this. “When Manohar bhai began IFFI in Goa, he opened the door not just for filmmaking, but also better play production. Those in the field of theatre could watch good meaningful cinema from the world over and this was then reflected in local plays and at competitions,” says theatre personality Saish Deshpande.
Deshpande further adds that Parrikar always supported folk and traditional art, and village festivals. “His presence at these folk art festivals always gave a boost to the participants,” says Deshpande.
Parrikar’s biggest achievement in performing arts however, believes Deshpande, was his support to the College of Theatre Art which was started in June 2018 at Kala Academy, Panaji. The four-year degree course is affiliated to Goa University and any student clearing class 12 in any stream can seek admission, age is no bar. Deshpande also mentions that through the Directorate of Art and Culture theatre teachers are now appointed in schools.
Theatre artist and educator Tanvi Bambolkar also recalls how Parrikar loved promoting the arts. “I have seen him at many cultural events of schools and colleges and he never failed to mention the significance of the aesthetic side in a student’s life,” she says.
Creating a film hub
It was in 2004 that Goa hosted the first edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). It was Chief Minister and former defence minister, Manohar Parrikar’s vision to bring IFFI to Goa and it was his resilient efforts that made Goa its permanent venue.
The film industry has changed quite a bit since 2004. And since then, Goans have had access to not just IFFI but a host of festivals like Goa Environmental Film Festival, Science Film Festival of India, Goa State Film Festival, Marathi Film Festival, etc.
In a bid to boost the film industry in Goa, Parrikar started the Film Finance Scheme and initiated a single window system for film shooting clearance for filmmakers; he also supported the Cinephile Film Club and other yearly calendar activities of Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG).
Former vice chairman of ESG (2014-2016), Damu Naik says, Parrikar always said ‘Goa is a film destination’. “The progress we have seen in the film industry in Goa in the last 10 years has been because of Parrikar,” says Naik.
Vice chairman of ESG, Rajendra Talak says that initially there were only one or two films made in Goa. Now seven to eight films are made annually. By bringing IFFI to Goa, Parrikar put Goa on the map. He says: “People from the world over participate in IFFI and through this Goa is also promoted as a film and shooting destination.”
Sharing his personal experience, Talak says that when Parrikar announced Goa as the IFFI venue in 2004, he met Parrikar and told him about the idea to screen his Konkani film ‘Alisha’ to which the latter gave the go ahead. “That is what you expect from a state leader, he is a decision maker. There were only 10 days left for IFFI and the censor board told me it would take 21 days to get the clearance. I called up Parrikar and narrated the incident to him and within minutes the then Censor Board chairperson, Sharmila Tagore agreed to the screening and that evening I got censor certificate,” adds Talak.
This motivated Talak to continue with his journey in films. “Parrikar was always there to promote talented people.”
Parrikar’s good rapport with Bollywood stars and central government ensured things went on smoothly. He also mentions Parrikar’s plan to have a permanent IFFI venue at Dona Paula which is currently in process and should be ready next year.
Writer-director-producer, Miransha Naik says that apart from his love for Goa and Konkani, one of the reasons he could go ahead with his movie ‘Juze’ is because of the support he received from ESG. He adds: “I don’t even have to mention the contribution from Manohar Parrikar for the same. If I’m not mistaken, it was his idea to make Goa the permanent venue for IFFI along with the NFDC Film Bazaar, which took our Konkani film to the international level. Compared to all the states of India, Goa has the best film finance scheme courtesy again Parrikar.”