Konkani language forms an integral part of Goa’s culture and identity; to keep the language alive among the people, Konkani cinema plays an important role. On the occasion of World Konkani Day, NT BUZZ traces the journey of Konkani cinema, through the years and how is it working towards promoting the language to the masses.
VENITA GOMES | NT BUZZ
April 9 is marked as the World Konkani day, also called ‘Vishwa Konkani Dis’, as it is celebrated in remembrance of noted Konkani activist Shenoi Goembab. Over the years the language has flourished with many writers, filmmakers, singers, poet and musicians preserving the language in the form of their work.
And cinema has been playing an important role in documenting the language and culture of the state right from the 1950s. Director of Konkani film Nachom-ia-Kumpasar (which was vying for a place at the Oscars 2016), Bardroy Barretto says: “It is true that language is an essential tool for understanding the historical, technical and cultural significance of a film; but it is also true that the cinema plays an equally important role in preserving and promoting language of a particular place. When I was shooting my first feature film ‘Nachom-ia-Kumpasar, the story was set in the 1960s and to create an atmosphere of that era I had to adopt and use the culture and language of that specific era.”
While researching for the film, Barretto came across the various facets pertaining to Konkani language. He says: “It was quite fascinating to see how the Konkani language has evolved over the years. There were several words that were used in the past which now have gone missing from the Konkani vocabulary. Also, the language keeps changing depending on the region and place. Understanding the whole idea, I attempted to use some of those words in my script to replicate the environment of the past.”
Recalling how Konkani cinema has revived over the years, vice-chairman of Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) and filmmaker, Rajendra Talak says: “Mogacho Aunddo (loves craving) directed by Al Jerry Braganza was the first Konkani film that was made in 1950 that gave birth to Konkani cinema. Then on, with the coming of filmmakers, musicians and producers from Bombay, it helped Konkani cinema to strengthen its roots and that’s when films like Amche Noxib and Nirmon began production in Goa.”
Nirmon was among the first Konkani films to get a national certificate of merit for its storyline. The film which was made on the budget of one lakh rupees, was later remade in Hindi in 1967 with the name ‘Taqdeer’ and was also dubbed in other languages like Tamil, Telegu, Kanada, Malayalam and Bengali, Assamese.
Later in the year 1977 ‘Mog ani Moipas’ was the first Konkani coloured film directed by Mangalore based director N L R Sahyadri. After which in 1978 ‘Bhuierantlo Munis’ became the first Goan Konkani coloured film.
Explaining how Konkani films were made more in Mangalore rather than Goa, Talak says: “Belonging to the Konkan region, people of Goa and Mangalore, mostly spoke the Konkani language. But the accent was different from what was spoken in Goa. Hence, at that time many Mangalore based directors came forward and started directing films in Konkani which also came under the banner of Konkani cinema.”
Talak also mentioned about the era when there was a break in Goan Konkani cinema and how it was revived. He says: “There was a break because there was not much of a market for Konkani films; there was a need to help filmmakers to come up with good quality films and that’s where the International Film Festival of India, Goa State film festival and National Film Festival played a vital role.”
With the starting of various film festivals, filmmakers got a platform to showcase their films to larger audience. Talak adds: “with the support from the government, filmmakers began entering the fray and that’s when the film industry got kick-started once again. Films like Aleesha, Antarnad, Jaagor, Tum Kitem Kortolo Aslo, O Maria and several others were made in Goa. Many of the films got several national awards. Also the government has recently, revamped the film finance scheme and it has now become easy for filmmakers to produce their films.”
Today, Konkani cinema in Goa is gaining viewership but there is still a need to involve viewers to keep the art of filmmaking alive. Margao-based, Arthur D’Costa says: “It is the responsibility of filmmakers to get good films themes to the people and also keep the process of filmmaking on-going. Similarly, there should be audiences coming for the film and appreciating the efforts of the filmmakers. If you analyse the films that were made in the past and are made now they have a lot to learn in terms of Goan culture, language and identity.”
Virtual literacy could also be promoted through other forms of cinema like short films, advertisements and documentary. Film editor of Konkani film ‘Juje’, which had its world premiere at the 41st Hong Kong International film festival (HKIFF), Siddesh Naik says: “not only movies but if we try to make advertisements, short films in Konkani it can help in promoting the language.”
Since 2004 more than 40 Konkani films have been released in Goa and around five to six films amongst them have received national awards. The Goan Konkani film industry has also given birth to renowned directors like Al Jerry Braganza, Rajendra Talak, Dammu Naik, Bardroy Barretto, Dnyanesh Moghe, Laxmikant Shetgaonkar and others. This only goes on to show that the Konkani movement is not fading, but is ever evolving through its cinematic endeavours.