In the business of funny

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One of the top comedians on the Konkani stage today, Mathew de Souza has been a part of plays performed at the Kala Academy Tiatr Competition for many years, and has also made inroads into commercial tiatr recently

JP PEREIRA

Coming from a tiatr family background, Merces-based Mathew de Souza, was attracted to the stage at an early age.

His father Dionisio de Souza wrote and acted in tiatrs and was known for his comic roles. Besides this he also wrote Konkani novels and was editor for ‘Goychem Ful’ a bi-monthly. His elder brother Andrew, has produced tele films in Konkani while his other brother Peter is based in London and has presented three tiatrs there.

De Souza began with short plays at the annual school gatherings – ‘Bappa Montri Zata’ and in the subsequent year, ‘Hanv Montri Zalom’, written and directed by F Martins.

“After that initial acting in school, I continued performing in village shows. My first major role was in ‘Noxibacho Khell’ by award-winning writer and director Joaquim Dias who introduced me as the comedian,” he says.

Later, he acted for Merces Club, Konkani Kala Kendr Merces, Avito Fernandes, Mark de Araujo, and other directors at the annual Kala Academy Tiatr competition. Besides these, he did comedy for directors from the village.

He found more appreciation when he joined top writer -director Alfie de Divar, for the KA Competition tiatr. He acted for ‘Pullam’, ‘Pai To Mhozo’ and the award-winning ‘Panchvo Mandament’ winning awards at least five times. He has done comedy for ‘Mhojem Jivit Konanchea Hatant’ and ‘Khorench Hanv Patki Kai?’, two top notch Lenten plays written and directed by the same director, conceptualised and produced by Lenoy Gomendes.

This year, he created quite a laugh riot with ‘Poilo, Xetkar’, a timely presentation on the importance of the farmer and the food he provides. The play bagged second place and Mathew won second place for the comedy.

As for commercial tiatr an opportunity came through Betty Alvares who introduced him to Peter de Benaulim and then Socorro de Sta Cruz cast him as comedian in ‘Hanv Porot Ietelim’. He played a major role in ‘Devan Ghodlelem’ by Roseferns. He has helped many other commercial directors as a replacement comedian too. A good singer too, he writes his own lyrics for solos, duets and trios. These are usually performed in the tiatrs he acts for.

Besides his government job and drama, De Souza has acted in various Konkani tele films. These include ‘Bhuim Kamp’ by Mark de Araujo and Andrew de Souza’s ‘Ghat’, ‘Mhonisponn’, and ‘Ovisvaxi’, besides others. He is involved in social activities in his village and has published three books in Konkani, for various religious practices and ‘Novo Somaz’, a book of short plays. He also edits ‘Porzoll’, writes for ‘Vauradedeancho Ixtt’ and ‘Gulab’.

Mathew wants to continue in tiatr “as this gives me a chance to keep the audience happy and amused”, he says. “Because of tiatr, I have managed to visit and perform in many cities in India and abroad,” he says, while also sharing some advice for younger artistes. “Please respect the seniors and ask them for advice. Dress for the role, avoid vulgarity both in language and action and be humble. Success comes to those who work hard with humility,” he says.