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On the funny side of things

Popularly known as Ben Evangelisto, comedian vangelisto  Agnelo Fernandes from Benaulim regularly has the audience in splits during his performances

JP Pereira

Benaulim-based Evangelisto Agnelo Fernandes’ talent for acting was first discovered by the Franciscan Brothers when he was a young boarder at St Anthony’s, Duler. “I would write short plays in Konkani and English and the brothers would help us enact these. Late mestre Anthony Velho also helped train us in music and singing,” he recalls. In particular, his English play ‘Goa Today’ dealing with drug addiction that was slowly entering Goa, was performed at his school gathering and
appreciated.

However, he took his first steps in tiatr when Mini Mario introduced him as a child artiste in ‘Adim Tum, Atam Hanv’. Following this, his dream to act for Rosario Rodrigues came true when he was cast in ‘Hanv Kallokant Sandlim’ and later for three other shows. Roseferns then picked him for ‘Beiman Tum’ and later ‘Xinxe’, in which he enacted the role of a grandmother (‘Xamaim’). “This role was my speciality and many directors wanted me to do it. I am happy that I introduced a character and flattered that this role is enacted by many new actors today. They request me for tips and comments!” he says, adding that newcomers today must show a sense of responsibility by attending practices, working hard, being punctual and respecting seniors. “The flavour of the tiatr has to be maintained,”
he says.

After shows by John D’Silva, Ben joined Mario Menezes and performed for many seasons. ‘Mhoji Maim, Mhoji Dusman’ and ‘Sangat Ami Bhurgim Konanchi?’ were two of the classics by this director that he acted in. His own dramas include ‘Kidd’, which was also staged in London, the big hit ‘Chondrim’ that displayed a waterfall in the setting, ‘Pez’, and ‘Devak Zai Zalear’. He also presented ‘To Amkam Visorlo’ written by Jacinto Vaz and played the late comedian’s role to the hilt. And when the late M Boyer classic, ‘Sounsar Sudorlo’ was staged again by Anil Kumar, he did it again. The audience felt that Jacinto Vaz was back on stage. He also convinced Lorna to return to sing live and performed with her in musical shows in London, Paris and Lisbon. He also brought in Nephie Rod to sing in his tiatr.

After two years in London, Ben returned and joined Menino de Bandar. Everything was fine till the day he was playing the tuba for a comedy act. “I played the interlude and while trying a second time, I collapsed. It was a heart attack. My left side was paralysed and I was bedridden. Many, including some tiatrist friends, felt I was a goner. But God and my Jesus are good! My family and I prayed and God has brought me back on stage,” he says. He further adds that many people who did not even come to visit or see him when he was ill, are asking him join their troupe.

Ben went on to make his comeback in ‘Goy, Goykar, Goykarponn by Mariano Fernandes and is now releasing his new tiatr, ‘Utt Ani Chol’ based on his life, his sickness, and the mighty power of God. “I have roped in veteran C D’Silva. Both of us had played old ladies in ‘Kidd’. This is going to be nostalgic and funny,” he says, with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

His wife, Sibila, the daughter of Batu Rodrigues, a well known tiatrist from Ribandar, will be the voiceover for this new tiatr. An accomplished singer, Sibila has previously rendered 12 songs on AIR and won awards for best singer at the Kala Academy Tiatr Competition. “In her third year in college she completed a project titled ‘Amcho Goyncho Tiatr’. She interviewed me for this project. We fell in love, got married and now she helps me with the typing of the script,” says Ben fondly, adding that he wants to be on stage for “as long as my God permits me”.

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