The Flowering of a Festival and a Culture

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By Damodar Mauzo

Despite the fact that Goa had no significant film culture until the International Film Festival of India arrived here in 2004, the Utasav-Priya or Fest-Mogi Goa has embraced the IFFI very tightly, no
t ready to let it go. Historically Goa has left a deep-rooted imprint on Indian Cinema, besides being a favoured destination for moviemakers. India’s film industry has benefitted vastly by the abundance of scenic beauty here.

But that is not all. The legendary Kamala Kamat of Assanora was the heroine in Dadasaheb Phalke’s 1913 film, Bhasmasur Mohini.  Sudhbala, as she was known to Bollywood in the 30’s of the last century, was actually Ermelinda Cardozo, hailing from Divar island in Goa. Another Goan, Waman Bhosle, was most sought after in the industry as one of the best editors.

Most importantly, Goan music arrangers formed a major component of the making of Indian cinema. The music maestro Anthony Gonsalves of Majorda was adored by the Laxmikant-Pyarelal composing duo. Chic Chocolate of Aldona enlivened Bollywood music by his brilliant arrangements. Music director and dholak master Dattaram Wadkar of Mavlinguem in Bicholim was famed for his innovative beat, that came to be known as Dattu-theka. All these artistes have added Goan flavour to Indian filmdom.  

Goa is known for her craze for audio-visual media, whether Natak or Tiatr or musical performances. It is not surprising that Goa’s creative talent ventured into making a film in Konkani even before Goa was liberated. The first Konkani movie, Mogacho Anvddo was released in the year 1950. I was thrilled to watch the second Konkani film Amchem Noxib in 1963 in Mumbai, in my college days. A number of movies were subsequently made, of which Nirmonn became so popular that it was soon made into a Hindi film titled Taqdeer.

Indeed, Goa has moved on since then. Talented young filmmakers are keen on drawing attention to the social issues that are relevant to Goa today. Rajendra Talak’s Aleesha highlights the ill effects of mining, while O Maria focuses on the shortsightedness of people who sell their ancestral land for short term gains. Home Sweet Home is a markedly different film that warns Goans settled abroad about how their property back home can be grabbed by land-sharks. The focal point in Diganta is the changing lifestyle of the Dhangar community in the wake of globalization. This film underscores the distancing of the village folk from Ma Vasundhara, Mother Nature.

Our films are gaining worldwide recognition too. Paltadcho Munis, the Man Beyond the Bridge, received critical acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival and has been included in some world’s best films of 2009 list. The forthcoming movie Enemy? centers around the government of India’s rights to forfeit property that is in the name of the citizens of enemy countries under the Enemy Property Act, an issue that is as vital to Goa as it is to the nation. And how can I resist the mention of Nachom-ia Kumpasar! It is a story that revolves around Goa’s two most revered jazz music personalities, and has been an absolute feast for the eyes and ears of the music lovers of Goa. I am glad it will be part of IFFI this year. I can equate it to the latest Marathi film Katyar Kalzant Ghusli, in terms of nostalgic memories of the glorious music of the past.     

The short films scenario too is very encouraging. Goan creative youth are seen competing with the best across the country. I recollect the Konkani short film Zor, whose protagonist is a man whose shadow gets a fever. With magic realism to its optimum, the film was nominated for the Best Short Film Award at the New York Indian Film Festival this year. The happening of IFFI in Goa has certainly motivated young talent to face challenges boldly. Konkani films make negligible or no profits today.  But the undying spirit and ever growing zeal of the talented youth is commendable. The Goa government has promised schemes that are yet to come through. When they do, film-making in Goa will undoubtedly get a tremendous boost.

I have been attending every edition of the IFFI since 2004. The eleven day fiesta is a boon. Screening of outstanding films, panel discussions and interactive sessions will certainly help encourage local talent, while competitive spirit will invariably help their talent grow. I hope the 46th edition will take Goan Cinema further ahead, in leaps and bounds. Damodar Mauzo is one of Goa’s best loved Konkani writers.

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