Jacinto Gracias has been on the Konkani stage for the last 28 years playing a variety of characters. Hailing from Maina in Curtorim, he is a regular with Prince Jacob Productions, as an actor and driver for the troupe.
But this talent almost went untapped. In fact, although his family enjoyed watching non-stop shows and tiatr, Gracias never had an interest in acting. However, one day, an actor played truant at the last minute before the staging of the tiatr ‘Praschit’ by Prince Jacob in Divar. One of the senior tiatrists then coaxed Gracias to take up the role. The director along with the other cast also convinced him. “It was a small role and I was nervous, extremely nervous. This was the first time I would face the audience. But I did it! And then onwards began my journey as an actor with Prince Jacob,” he reminisces. Post this, Jacob began giving him minor roles which he did with confidence. “The stage fright disappeared,” he smiles.
His first major role came in Prince Jacob’s hit show titled ‘Pedo’. This was a role of a destitute, a cripple who lives in the cemetery, and the audience enjoyed the act. Gracias then continued playing various characters like an Arab jailor in ‘Rupia’, the obnoxious and evil ‘Roldao’ in ‘Padri’, an old priest in ‘Padri Mhonis Nhoi’, and a corrupt minister in ‘Roddonaka’. All these were presentations by Prince Jacob. At present, he is cast as a loving brother in ‘Ek Ghor Don Chulli’. “Prince Jacob’s direction and moulding has helped me to be the actor that I am today,” he says. Besides this, he has played major roles in ‘Amchoch Dhorom Kiteak Halta’ by Simon Gonsalves, ‘Somudaiecho Fuddari’ a Lenten play by Calado de Verna, and ‘Tannem Mhaka Obhixek Kela’ written by Valency and directed by Michael Gracias. In this highly acclaimed show, he played a drunken father with no qualms, even when his daughter is misused although good sense prevails later.
Ever since, his first brush with the tiatr stage, Gracias has helped many directors in emergencies. “I remember a substitution I did for a well known director. He came to my house at 10 a.m. in the morning and asked me to act for his first show in Margao. The show was to be staged at 3:30 p.m. I was a bit worried, as I had not seen the show and it was a major role. I took the risk and went ahead. With the help of my co-artistes and reading the script in between my entries, I did the role. The applause and the smiles from the entire troupe proved that I had done the role well,” he recounts.
Gracias has also previously presented Carnival ‘khell’ for many years with professional artistes who are well known on the Konkani stage. He has also released ‘Hanvuch Fottoulom’, an audio disc, and ‘Hanv Tiatr Boroitam’, a video presentation. His three Carnival shows ‘Trasant Poddlem’, ‘Sojea’ and ‘Ladli Laxmi’ have been released on DVD. He has played roles in the movie version of ‘Padri’ and ‘Roddonaka’ and ‘Pearl’ by Annie Quadros. Plans are on to release a tiatr in the near future. In fact, the name and the script is getting finalised and the release will be at a convenient time. As of now he is busy with Jacob’s troupe, dropping kids to school and running his bar and restaurant in Curtorim.
“My wife, Ermelinda and sons Shawn and Shenoy have been very encouraging. In fact Shenoy made a good comedian in my carnival shows. This hobby of acting in Konkani drama has given me a lot. I thank God and I am very happy as those hours of involvement in the show, keep me free from worries and tensions. I wish to continue as long as I can,” he says, adding that parents should also their children to act in tiatr and directors should encourage and mould the new actors.