FROM MOGACHO ANVDDO TO MOGACHI ZHOR…
A CHRONICLE OF KONKNNI CINEMA
By Walter Menezes
After Vozram, a treasure trove of Konknni adages with English interpretations,
Isidore Dantas’ second book on Konknni Cinema will be launched in Goa today.
Ten years ago, an article on Konknni Cinema appearing in a newspaper caught Isidore Dantas’ attention. Not satisfied with what he read, the Pune-based Goan writer was soon on his feet, determined to dig deeper and set the record straight. Ten long years later, his search was complete: Konknni Cholchitram, a 276 pages rich, hard-bound chronicle of 31 Konknni celluloid films, funded by George Pinto & family and sponsored by other Goans whose names are duly acknowledged, was released during the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of Goa Sudharop on April 4, 2010 in California, USA.
The first Konknni film, "Mogacho Anvddo" was screened on April 24, 1950. Collecting information spanning a period of 60 years may look easy to the eye but the task was daunting. Oso sod ghetana sabar oddchonneo dolleam mukhar aileo (I encountered many obstacles in the process), Dantas discloses in his preface, Mhojem Utor. From Doordarshan in Mumbai to National Film Archives of India in Pune to many producers, his journey ended in dead-ends. Even records of old songs were difficult to find at the Akashvani offices in Mumbai and Panaji.
Inspite of all these odds, Konknni Cholchitram stands out and not only provides various information on the films listed in the book in easy and lucid Konknni but includes 269 photographs, some rare, and lyrics of 109 songs with as many as 85 of them complete with kantaranchi surlipi (music notes).
Konknni Cholchitram sets off in earnest with Mogacho Anvddo, the first film ever to be made in Konknni. Produced and directed by Al Jerry Braganza (Antonio Lawrence Jerry Braganza), Mogacho Anvddo was based on Dioguinho De Melo’s novel, Mogachi Odd with Al Jerry himself playing the lead role opposite Leena Fernandes, then working as a telephone operator / receptionist in United Artists, an American company in Mumbai. Presented by ETICA (Exchange Talkies of India, China and Africa), the film was simultaneously released on April 24, 1950 at Mapusa’s Dashrat Cinema, Matunga’s Rivoli and Star in Mazagaon.
April 24 is celebrated as Konknni Cinema Day every year but the Day and the Father of Konknni Cinema, Al Jerry Braganza are, on many an occasion, sidelined and forgotten. A week after the curtains came down on the 4th Konknni Film Festival in May 2008, Tomazinho Cardozo writing in Vavraddeancho Ixtt (June 7, 2008) made a candid observation, “... puroskar vanttni hea dobajea vellar nodrek ailoleo kaim chuki. Survatekuch kariavollicho sutrdar vo ‘compere’ hannem thoddkean cholchitracho itihas sanglo. Bharotantlo vhoddantlo vhodd cholchitrkar sorgest Dada Saheb Phalke hanchem porian nanv ghetlem. Punn Konknni filmanchea itihasachi matui khobor kelina. Konknni cinemachea itihasachi taka mahiti asa vo na hoch mhaka dubhav poddlo (…and some mistakes which were noticed during the presentation ceremony. The compere, at the start of the function, gave a brief history of cinema. Even late Dada Saheb Phalke, one of India’s tallest film personalities, was acknowledged. But no mention was made of the history of Konknni cinema. Was he even aware of the history of Konknni cinema? I had my doubt).
It would take another 13 years before Frank Fernand produced the next Konknni film, Amchem Noxib in 1963 and followed it up two years later with Nirmonn. So successful was Nirmonn (awarded Certificate of Merit by Central Govt.) that a Hindi edition, Taqdeer soon rolled out with Shalini Mardolkar playing the lead role in both the films. It is said that this movie was dubbed in seven other languages: Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malyalam, Bengali, Assamese and Oriya. (Source: 50 years of Konkani Cinema edited by Andrew Greno Viegas, Vol I, Issue I, 2000). Some of the songs from these two films like Mollbailo Dov, Claudia and Nhid Mhojea Bai still do the rounds at Goan get-togethers and wedding receptions.
From 1966 onwards, there is a marked change with Konknni films making their presence felt at regular intervals not only in Mumbai and Goa but Karnataka as well. Sukhachem Sopon (1966) is followed by films like Mhoji Ghorkan’n (1969), Kortubancho Sonvsar (1970), Jivit Amchem Oxem (1972), Tisri Chitt (1973) and two films in 1977:Boglantt and Mog Ani Moipas (remember Konknni Kogull Wilfy Rebimbus’ unforgettable song, Mog Tuzo Kitlo Axelom sung by P B Srinivas?)
For lack of space and no other reason, I will randomly sift through the remainder of 21 films which makes Konknni Cholchitram at once out of the ordinary. From K G Nayak’s Toposvani and Dr K Ramesh Kamath’s Jana Mana to Prince Jacob Productions’ Padri and Rajendra Talak Creations’ Aleesha, Ontornad and Sawariya.com, Dantas takes the reader through the finer details of the films, including its cast and cost and lyrics and locales. There are others, too. Like Dnyaneshwar Moghe’s O Bai, Sanjeev Prabhudesai’s Sudd, Tiburcio Fernandes’ (T-Bush) Black Nhesop Fashion Atanchem, Fatorda MLA Damodar Naik’s Zagor and of course, Laxmikant Shetgaonkar’s much acclaimed film, Poltoddcho Monis.
Not many will know that the hymn, Sogott Sangata Melliam sung during the house-to-house visit of Mother Mary’s statue is actually a creation of Wilfy Rebimbus and finds place in Dr. Richard Castellino’s Bhogsonnem. Similarly, the story of Muthu Krishan Das’ film, Girestkai (1983) drew its inspiration from Lambert Mascarenhas’ Sorrowing Lies My Land. “Tantunt tontrik dox aslolean, tem borem cholunk pavunk na. Tem porot dub kelear taka boro protisad mellunk xokta (There were technical faults, reason why the film did not fare well. If it is dubbed again, it can get a good response),” observes Isidore. Is anybody listening?
Finally, it is ‘The End’ of Konknni Cholchitram with Sucorina D’Costa’s Dumiana Niagara Motion Films and Bonifacio Dias’ BV Films joint venture, Mogachi Zhor screened in Goa and Niagara in the last week of December 2009.
With a list of personalities from the Konknni community who have enriched Indian cinema in various spheres and a glossary of difficult words explained, Isidore Dantas’ chronicle is a glowing tribute to the fraternity of Konknni Cholchitram.
[This article first appeared on Gomantak Times dated 21.09.2010 - the day 'Konkani Cholchitram' was officially released in Goa under the auspices of Goa Sudharop - USA, www.goasudharop.org]