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Redefining poor

Can poverty solely be defined by the amount of economic wealth that one possesses? Agnelo Borim’s ‘Minnminnti Vat’ attempts to answer this, reports NT BUZZ
For Agnelo Borim putting forth an idea to his audience is often a difficult task, and thus he uses symbols and connects its traits to the message and idea.
In keeping with this practice, his new tiatr ‘Minnminnti Vat’ (which translates as smouldering wick) is a symbolic title. When a lamp has less oil in it, the flame flickers, and a person has to put in effort to keep it burning as long as it can, says Agnelo. His tiatr follows a similar theme.
While his previous tiatrs ’Davarne’ was based on the education system; and ‘Akhaddo’ on justice and judicial system of India, this time around, Agnelo tackles poverty.
Fond of basing his tiatrs around pastoral themes, with his concepts usually influenced by professor at Rachol Seminary, Fr Victor Ferrao, ‘Minnminnti Vat’ is similarly based around this year’s pastoral theme – ‘God has selected me to give good news to the poor.’ Agnelo says that if we want to help the poor, we should first understand who can be called poor. “Who should be considered as poor? Usually for us, a poor person is the one who begs or is financially backward. But I have questioned this stereotype in the tiatr,” says Agnelo.
According to Agnelo, money is not the only index that determines poverty. Beyond money there are many more aspects that can be used to term a person as being ‘poor’. In this tiatr, Agnelo has portrayed moral bankruptcy, bankruptcy of health and education in the lives of many people. “There are many people who are well-settled, have money, but have no moral values. Similarly, there are those who are rich in all the other aspects but have numerous health problems,” says Agnelo, who has illustrated this in his tiatr by portraying several students who fail in their exams. “Poverty is not just related to monetary wealth, but many other aspects, and could also mean poor in terms of opportunities,” he says.
The story of ‘Minnminnti Vat’ is based on two families. On one hand is a family of two elders and their son who belong to the fisher folk community who are financially poor. On the other hand is an affluent family. The fisher folk family lives in a hut and due to their economical condition use candle light. The concept on ‘Minnminnti Vat’ thus has roots here. The affluent family has inherited wealth and have everything they need. Their wants are endless. Agnelo has balanced the stereotypical meaning of being poor while bringing out a different perspective of poverty.
He has also provided a solution to the problem in this tiatr. He believes that there is need for justice if we want to come out of poverty. “We are so busy with our lives that we do not spend time thinking that there are poor people in this world, who are in real need of help. If there is a flood, tsunami, earthquake in any part of the world, we all donate and never follow up on their situation later,” he says. “We live as if poor people don’t exist in this world. Until we realise that what we have in excess doesn’t belong to us, but is deserved by someone else who is poor, poverty will continue to be a problem.”
Agnelo has further demonstrated in his tiatr that needs can be fulfilled but greed and wants can never be fulfilled. The more one has, the more he wants and wants are infinite. And in this quest of amassing wealth, and happiness one fails to realise that happiness can be attained with the little that one possesses. When you wish for more and have high expectations, and it doesn’t materialise, one becomes frustrated. Through his tiatr ‘Minnminnti Vat’ he wants to convey that being humane and respecting humanity is important, and that greed cannot be taken over by human values.
There are 13 kaantaras in this tiatr done by several composers. Usually, Agnelo admits, when he writes songs, they are all quite similar and this he feels can be very monotonous for his audience. “By having kaantaras by different composers, I can assure, that people will love the tiatr,” he concludes.

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