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A man of many hats

JP Pereira

Hailing from Telaulim in Navelim, Avito Pires de Menezes has always enjoyed being part of the Christmas programmes organised in his parish.

One year however, the organisers could not arrange a host for the show. Menezes was requested to step in, which he did after some hesitation.

“The show was a success and some of the audience members told me that I should continue hosting. So, when I got an offer for a show in Cuncolim, I accepted. That was the beginning of my journey as a host for various musical shows,” he recounts.

And over the last few years, Menezes has hosted musical shows by Lenoy Gomendes, Norman Cardozo, Lawry Travasso, and Goa’s Nightingale Lorna.

“Hosting a musical show for Lorna was a great achievement. For me, Lorna is a star and I always looked up to her. When I got this opportunity to announce for her show, it was a dream come true,” he says.

Besides this, he has also been part of the organising committee and host for the big YMCT Entertainment musical shows held in Telaulim, for many years. Top Goan singers like Lorna, Sonia Shirsat, O’luv, Cyril Ferrao, Sidhanath Buyao and Antonette Mendes, etc, have performed in these shows. “I was appreciated for my efforts in my village and that is a good feeling,” he says.

The son of Antonio Pires de Menezes, a stalwart of the Konkani stage and the recent recipient of the Kala Gaurav Puraskar from the Department of Art and Culture, Menezes has also dipped his toes in the tiatr circuit.

At the age of six, he sang a ‘cant’ for his dad’s tiatr in the village and later acted in a play for the school gathering.

He returned to the stage when Fr Jose Antonio de Costa was releasing ‘Jezu Soddvonddar’, a Lenten play. “I got an opportunity to render songs in this tiatr, which was staged all over Goa. This was my first performance after many years and I felt good and continued in his subsequent plays,” he says.

Menezes later sang choral songs in ‘Postman Dias’ and ‘Point’ by Alfie de Divar. “I consider Alfi Fernandes to be one of the best directors on the Konkani stage today. This prompted me to continue with this director, when Lenoy Gomendes released his first Lenten play ‘Mhojem Jivit Konanchea Hatant?’ directed by Alfi,” he says. Menezes played the role of the ‘evil one’ in this superb show, sang songs and was involved with the setting. The same team released ‘Khorench Hanv Patki Kai’.  Menezes has also acted in ‘Jezu Soddvonddar’ and ‘Hanv Porot Ietam’, Lenten plays by Fr Jose A Costa.

Besides this, he was invited to Dubai to render a song for a tiatr by Rafael de Margao. Menezes also plays the saxophone and performs with Lenoy Gomendes. Previously, he has also played the drums for Alfie’s tiatr ‘Pakam’.

His brother, Armstrong leads the choir ‘Serenaders of Telaulim’ and Menezes has been part of this group that has won many prizes at carol singing competitions and  also winning the Hymn Singing Competition 2019 organised by the Kala Academy.

Besides this, Menezes has also been part of the prize-winning mando group ‘Curtorechim Sallkam’. The Serenaders have released three Christmas albums and he has sung for audio discs by Fr Costa. A video with Cielda Pereira on Sao Joao, was also uploaded on YouTube. And he credits his many achievements all to hardwork.

Commenting on the standard of tiatr however, Menezes believes that there is scope for improvement.

“Vulgarity in comedy cannot continue just because the audience laugh. Established directors should also introduce new talent, if tiatr has to survive. Newcomers should love the stage and work for its upliftment, giving due respect to seniors,” he says, adding that he is happy that his mother tongue has given him wide exposure.

“I will continue to work hard to raise the standard of entertainment in my language. God has blessed me with this gift and I thank Him for this. With His help, I am going to achieve more,” he says.

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