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Rosario d’Melo is known for his  comedy roles in tiatr over the  years, especially that of  essaying an old woman. He is  now planning his own tiatr

JP Pereira

He walks on stage with a hunch, wearing a sari, a pepper and salt wig, chattering like an old woman, at times evil, at times helpful, but always humorous. And, he convinces the audience, that it is an old lady doing her act.

Indeed, a tiatrist for many years now, Rosario d’Melo from Curtorim is noted for essaying the role of an old woman to perfection. But this talent would not have been discovered had it not been for the keen eye of a teacher back in school at the St Xavier’s Institute, Curtorim

“Vijaya madam made me perform as Tarzan for the school annual day and in the subsequent year, she made me mimic cries of seven animals,” he recalls.

He also regularly participated in Christmas programmes held in the Curtorim Parish, and at times sang duets with his sister Antonette (today popularly known as Antonette de Maina, a star on the Konkani stage).

“Those were the good times and I had a lot of support from my sisters, parents and the audience too. We loved tiatr and would enact shows at home, using bedsheets and sarees for props, charging neighbours and friends who came to watch a nominal fee,” he reveals.

When he was seven years old, Rosario acted in ‘Mhozo Pai Konn’, a tiatr by the late C Alvares and was cast to play the son of the character played by Jessie Dias. Seeing the enthusiasm of the youngster, Star of Areal approached him to act in his carnival khell tiatr. Rosario went on to act with him for three years. Subsequently he joined Dada de Maina for three years and went on to act on stage in a tiatr, by Joaquim Jack.

In 2003, he got a big break when he was cast in Jr Reagan’s ‘Satvo Sakrament Samballat’. He continued in ‘Sun Tea Gharachi’, where he played a double role of an old lady and later a ‘lamani’ migrant. And Rosario recalls that he had little time in between the two roles for a costume change, as, soon after the old lady is flung off the stage, the lamani appears onstage.

“As I came on stage in the lamani costume, the skirt that was loosely tied fell down. But the crowd whistled and clapped and there was a roar of laughter. I had to be careful for the subsequent shows,” he says with a laugh.

“Most of my acts have been of an old lady. This was started in the tiatr by C DSilva and Ben Evangelisto. I picked it from them and Ben helped me improvise. I use my grandmother’s saree to enact the role of the old lady. I offer a prayer for her soul when entering the stage and this gives me confidence,” he further adds. In 2008, he acted in ‘Hanv Porot Ietelim’, by Socorro de St Cruz and a video production titled ‘Godmother’ by Martin de Ponda.

Post this, a job in the Gulf beckoned. On his return, four years later, he joined Jack de Colva and Rodson to act in their khell tiatr. After this, Jose Fernandes was releasing ‘Hem Kalliz Mogachem’ featuring Jessie Dias and once again he had an opportunity to act with the veteran. He now acts in ‘Mogan Fullam Ragan Kantte’  by Jose Fernandes again, and plays a funny elderly man. “A friend advised that I would be typecast as an old lady. So I have made this change and many have noticed the difference and appreciated it, ” he says.

A singer too, Rosario renders songs composed with the help of Tony de Ribandar. Recently Tracy Dias helped him out with a duet, when he approached her at the last moment, as the original singer met with an accident.

And Rosario is now planning a tiatr. “I have completed the first half with help from my friends, Sharon and Valent Tavares,” he says.

As for newcomers looking at making it big on the tiatr stage he instructs them to accept advice from veterans, as they are more experienced.

“I am thankful to God for gifting me with this talent and many blessings. I am grateful to my directors, co-artistes and my family for all the encouragement,” he adds.

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