Pio Agnelo Fernandes was fascinated with khell tiatr from a young age. “From the age of seven, my father used to take me to watch khell tiatr during the Carnival in Goa. I used to love watching these shows performed on the ground and had this great wish to become an actor,” says the artiste who hails from Ambajim. His father too used to act and write songs for village shows, which further propelled him in this direction.
Fernandes further recalls that as a kid, he would sing all day long and gradually realised that he could compose lyrics for songs and set them to music. And so, he began writing songs.
“In school (Holy Spirit HS in Margao), I wrote songs to be performed during the assembly and for other celebrations and gatherings,” he says. He also wrote and directed one act plays that were performed in the village and found great support from his mother
Rosaline and his father.
It was during one such performance that Estella Barreto, a comedian from Ambajim, saw him perform and introduced him to veteran
C D’Silva. “The director cast me when I was 11 years old in ‘Pixem’, which went on to be a hit,” recounts Fernandes who then continued with a few popular tiatrs and soon joined the troupe of Agnelo de Borim, to perform in tiatrs that were staged for the Kala Academy ‘A’ Group Tiatr Competition. He began with ‘Poltoddcho Saib’, followed by ‘Takit’ and many others, including the latest ‘Goal’.
Many songs in these tiatrs were composed by him, and some of those he has rendered in his own pop style. At the age of 17 he also staged ‘Bhogsonnem’, his first tiatr, in Ambajim. Receiving a good response from the audience he later wrote and directed Lenten plays, ‘Jezu Jivitacho Unddo’, ‘Jezu Sodvonencho Kunvor’ and two others, all over Goa.
But it is composing of songs that holds a special place in his heart and he shares his work with other artistes and newcomers. “Composing a song is something I enjoy. That is my strength. I have no formal training in music but sitting at the keyboard, tinkling with the keys, I try to get a tune of my own and then write the lyrics. Then I take the help of professional musicians to arrange the music,” he says.
His favourite composition till date is ‘Dis Udelo’, a song of love performed by Mark Revlon backed by music from Filip Barreto. Many of his songs have been uploaded on social media and have been appreciated by listeners. He has also released two audio discs. ‘Viva Goa’ a Konkani pop album in 2011 and a Gospel album titled ‘Come Follow Me’ in 2019.
Besides this, he has written and directed ‘Khuris Jivitachi Vatt’ a tele film and acted in ‘Noshaa’ a feature film by Edison Gomes, ‘Fake’ by Amod Mardolkar, and ‘Diat ani Gheiat’ and ‘Bori Khobor’ by Conceicao Miranda.
“I would like to compose many songs and share these with young singers, so they can perform,” he says, adding that tiatr has changed a lot over the years and most of the writers and directors are giving their best. “There is development in all aspects like direction, costumes, music, sound and other requirements,” he says, while doling out advice for new entrants in this profession: “Believe in yourself, work hard and do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. Never stop learning, whether you want to be an actor, director, musician or singer. Try to perfect yourself and never quit, no matter how long it takes. It is advisable to also have another source of income instead of depending totally on shows.”
“I have been blessed with this inborn talent and a beautiful family,” he adds. “I run a sports goods shop with the help of my wife Sabina. My sons are studying and are already into singing. All these are gifts from God.”
Other tiatrs acted in:
‘Bori Khobor’ by Conceicao Miranda
‘Ti Tuka Ravta’ by Dominic Carvalho
‘Devan Ghodlelem’ by Roseferns
‘Akhaddo’, ‘Minnminnti Vat’, ‘Selfie’ by Agnelo de Borim.
Best duet and lyrics at the Kala Academy Tiatr Competition 2016-17
Best solo and duet at the Kala Academy Tiatr Competition 2019-20