This was the scenario about 30 –40 years back, there were no computers, no TV, no mobiles. In the whole town of Barkur there were only five land telephone lines. Even the Church had no telephone…!
People had to depend on Radio and newspapers both for information and entertainment. Native folklore yakshagana, traditional sports like Kambala, feasts like rathotsava were the only occasions to public to enjoy en-masse. In our parish annual feast in the 3rd week of Dec every year was the one young and old eagerly waiting? However, Dec last week feast of neighboring Brahmmavar and 2nd week of January in Sastan too was attended in large number by us. Even if the feast was missed for compulsory school attendance, it was the evening Drama’s in all these parishes we never missed….!
Before the CYM of Barkur took birth in September 1976, it was the banner of St Peters Association Barkur, which was very famous in the surrounding to present classic plays in the evening of parish feast day. The plays like, Mister by Benna Ruzai, Ishtagat by JB Rasquinnah, Shegunachin Sun, Doth Dha Hazar, (writers names forgotten) Roktachin Zalin Dukhan by Sunny A.D'Souza, are some titles I can still recollect, watched during my Primary School / High school days in late 60’s and early 70’s. Most probably VJP Saldhahna’s Nirmonn was enacted in late 60’s. Versatile actors in James D’Lima, Cyril Sequeira, Leo DÁlmeida, Norbert Fernandes, Stany Pais, Anthony Fernandes, Clifford Lobo, Augustine D’Lima, Karamchand Sequeira and others are of supreme quality. Well supported by Victor Gonsalves, Henry Fernandes, Mark Fernandes, Vincent Furtado and many others are well remembered. Tomato, written by CF. D’Costa, a one act short play in 1973, was the one enacted by veterans during farewell to Rev. Fr. Mark D’Sa.
Moreover, the Annual School day of National Jr. College and Maryknoll High school had its annual dose of good Kannada plays. Well known teachers direction was visible in the quality of such plays. In between, I still remember a classic play enacted by Mahila Mandal in Satya Harischandra at NJC open stage. The local Ganeshotsava samiti used to present one quality play every year, since it was late night show, people like me missed most of them. Here too best of the Barkurian talents put into test to show their acting skills. Nagesh Rao, Liaqat Ali, Shantarama Shetty, Sudhakar Rao are just few names……! Around this time NJC Staff also presented couple of new trend Kannada plays ably directed by Prof. Ram Bhat, participated by Prof. MVR Achar, Prof. Raghavendra Bhat, Laxman Bhandary, Nagesh Rao…….!
Almost during same time, our CYM youth engaged themselves in satiating the thirst or likes and preferences of Konkani drama loving spectators, since 1976. I can state with great confidence, the Church open stage was the one which had record performances to its credit. Earlier a make shift arrangement for Parish feast evening drama, later with the dedication and support of then Vicar Joseph D’Souza & the Assistant parish priest Rev. Fr. Henry D’Souza, todays permanent open stage was constructed. The stage was inaugurated by then Bishop of Mangalore. Rt. Rev. Dr. Basil S. D’Souza and the first curtain raiser was Chedo EK Chedvan Sadesaath, penned by great JS Alvares. Ronald DÁlmeida played the lead role with 8 young girls. Veterans in Rita Picardo, playing mom of hero, and Shanthi Sequeira, Vera Montherio, Freda Vaz, Maria Picardo, Shanthi Gonsalves etc. gave their near perfect performances, ably directed by Fr. Henry D’Souza…..With this co-acting i.e. males performing males and females roles by our lady members given a start and patronage to continue till now……Depending on talented Barkurian, Budan Basha Saheb for costumes, curtains and make up also come to an end with this.
In the following year in December, all-time hit written by Dolphy Cassia, Di Maka Bhogsane was enacted in the evening of Parish feast day. Sylvan DÁlmeida, Louis DÇosta, were in the lead with others and Lawrence Sequeira and Ronald DÁlmeida duo were at their best in comic roles of fun and laughter. As usual, Arun Dias, Vera Montherío at their best, supported by Shanthi Sequeira, Rita Fernandez and many. Very next year, Rodd Thujen Patak, again a social play by Dolphy Cassia, was a super hit by the same band of youngsters with Joseph D’Souza making his powerful presence for the first time, though he played character roles in other plays, earlier. Chedvacho Hankar Polle penned by JS Alvares, in May 1978, for Youth day and on August 15th 1978, Chood kotru, in the Maryknoll Hr Primary School, was yet another farce by the veterans, to be remembered. Louis DÇosta, Sylvan DÁlmeida and Vera Monthiero once again in the main roles…..
It was December in the year 1979; Devnchar Nadtha was another successful presentation with Alwyn D’Souza being the Devnchar……played to its villain character. It was such a role of hatred and impact, small children used call the actor by the role for following years….! With this, the best first batch of CYM artists, left the stage to generation next, with the exception of Joseph D’Souza.
While I was in my B.Com. studies in Milagres College, Kallianpur had a one sentence, one scene acting opportunity during the talents day in 1979. It naturally, inculcated likes for plays as the CYM provided me the required platform and for following 3 years no looking back…..!
To begin with, we competed during the Catechism day skit competitions in February, 1980, to win First place, which continued following consecutive three years. Mojina Mahalu, in Kannada had best of my contemporaries and neighbors in John F. Gonsalves, Joseph Fernandes, Derrick D’Souza, Lancelot DÁlmeida, Canute D’Souza, and Norman Furtado; of course it’s all about prodigal son Biblical story at the background. The best appreciation ever we received from our Vicar Rev. Fr. Joseph D’Souza….!
It was Rev. Fr. Patrick Rodrigues who handpicked me to play a drunkard father in Kaisar Asa Bachavi in Dolphy Lobo’s social play as Ruzram. Asha Martis enacted as daughter and Joseph D’Souza as villain. Vincent DÁlmeida too made his first entry into the full-fledged dramas in the lead role. Apart from the high voltage serious story line, side by side yet another team of hilarious acts. First time, John F. Gonsalves, Herald Sequeira with Vera Monthiero gave the audience the lighter moments to enjoy otherwise a well woven family story with a strong message to the society. During the farewell programme to the then parish priest Rev. Fr. Joseph D’Souza, Kazarachi Dothorn was played with Joseph D’Souza in the lead with Joseph Rodrigues, Peter Alva, and Herald Sequeira playing the characters of priest, Mirnyam and butler respectively. Gongo, a well known farce by Cyril G. Sequeira, Takkode was enacted in the following year. I can recollect Kishore Gonsalves as child artist in that play.
One of the best plays written by Wilfy Remimbus Tisri Chit was picked by us for fund raising drama for New Portico., in October, 1980. Excellent direction of Fr. Patrick was the real force behind its wonderful presentation. Personally I was stunned to see the talents of Peter Alva, Freda Vaz, Joseph Fernandes, Herald Sequeira, Joseph D’Souza, Vinod Sequeira, Pius James D’Souza, Romantic brothers and sisters roles were well performed by Stephen Lewis, John Gonsalves, Noelyn D’Souza and Rita Fernandes. It was a great occasion to act with Freeda Vaz who at her life time best, as Mornel, the grandmother to four troublesome, running agrocery shop. I had the role of a grand-pa, supporting these notorious grandchildren….! The Music was provided by Silver shine Brahmmavar.
It was Main Khain Asai’- another classic play chosen for Parish feast day in Dec 1980, it was written by Fred Muscarenhus, with an excellent story line with suspense attached. Joseph D’Souza was the hero, supported by Noelyn D’Souza the leading lady. Rita Fernandes gave her best as mother, we, viz Cynthia Carvalho, Peter Alva, Joseph Rodrigues with villain role, and me had Modthin Porab’s part, Vincent DÁlmeida, as police Inspector etc. were contented with these supporting character roles. John Gonsalves, Eric Carvalho gave their best as comedians.
Tisri Baill, was a suspense play, though it was a crude translation of a popular Kannada drama we selected for Youth day on 30th May, 1982, well acclaimed by the general public. It was also the day of our then Vicar Rev. Fr. J.N.Lobo’s Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee. One of the drama where I was fortunate to play the lead as CID with Cynthia Carvalho, who was playing heroine hesitantly. Joseph Rodrigues was the villain. Other roles of Lawyer played by Derrick D’Souza, Inspector by handsome Denzil D’Souza….Steevan Menezes was noticed for innovative acting skills…..!
In the year 1981, August, we had a short play in Havn Koventak vetan, first time I had the chance to act as comedian butler. Other roles performed by Rita Fernandes, Peter Alva and Steven Menezes……
CYM selected a social play in Ekach Rukachin Phollan written by Denis Peris, Sangeeth Ghar, in October, for fund raising. Many new comers made their presence. Daphne Furtado, as mother, with Vincent DÁlmeida playing the lead role, with Noelyn D’Souza, Vinod Sequeira, Eric Carvalho, Pius D'Çosta, of course can’t forget & Steven Menezes & me are performing comedian father and son….. Pius James D’Souza, Ancilla Crasta, Rita Fernandes are few other names to mention.
In the same year December, 1981 a tough play with multiple characters written by well-known Johnny Maria-bhoomi, Udyavar – Shirapachi Shirant was selected. It had five ladies, Cynthia Carvalho, Pramila Roche, Ivy Rebello, Joyce Furtado and as many as 12 male characters. The great villain in Stephen Lewis made his un-matchable impression by his all-time best performance role of KK, with rare mannerisms and costumes, associated with the role of Kevin, played by Joseph Rodrigues, will remain ever green. I was fortunate to play a dream lead role of Ruben, and my twin brother, mentally retarded Foben by Steven Menezes, to its perfection.
In February, for Parish day Celebrations, Purin Babu by Johnny Mariabhoomi was the farce selected with John Gonslaves, Cyprian Henry D’Souza, (now a well known priest) playing the title role and Sunita Carvalho, child artist then…….!
For youth day, in May, 1983, a social play specially knitted, for Barkurian audience with local flavor by our own John F. Gonsalves Kallokathavn Uzwadak, was selected. Vincent DÁlmeida and Ancilla Crasta playing the lead roles. Freda Lewis, as Remez, Joyce Furtado, Freda Vaz were also there with character roles well supported by Pius D’Çosta, Herald Sequeira Eric Carvalho, John Gonsalves and yet again Stephen Lewis as the cruel villain Rudy. Probably the role of Ruzaram was the last big role I was fortunate to play during my first stint in CYM Barkur, as I left Barkur behind, to reach Mumbai in May 1983.
In the following year in Dec 1983, Molbavoili Divti by Dolphy Cassia was enacted on Parish feast day with Vincent DÁlmeida and Rita Fernandes at the lead with Dolphy D’Souza, Herald Sequeira, Steven Menezes, Alwyn D’Souza……Of course Stephen Lewis playing the role of John the furious villain. Mostly it was Tunch Mojen Jiveet in December, 1984 with Vincent DÁlmeida and Marceline Menezes in lead roles and in the following year 1985, it was Pius James D’Souza as Dadarcho Dada, was an instant hit. Nelson Sequeira, Dolphy D’Souza. Probably Nirmala Sequeira and Frenny DÁlmeida were also participated in this play.
The CYM of Barkur crossed an all important milestone, fruitful existence in service for 10 glorious years. The three day Decennial celebrations marked with 10th Annual day on 12-12-1986 with drama Bebdyachi Dhuv, written by Wilfy Remimbus. Pius James D’Souza, Shaila D’Silva, Christopher Fernandez, Herald D’Souza, Edwin Picardo, John Picardo, Ivan Gonsalves, Alex Cutinho, Frenny DÁlmeida gave their best to enthrall the audience. The last court scene still alive in my memory, with Pius James the Lawyer at his best. On the third day of the celebration, Bhogsane, with a moral message written by Ivan Gonsalves was enacted by young and old like Donald Vaz, Victor Gonsalves, John Picardo etc. is a worthy play to remember over here.
It was the SPCYA (St Peters Catholic Youth Association, Barkur – Mumbai) established in the year 1985, created history in presenting a social play, Mogachi Deswatt, written by Henry D’Silva Suratkal, (producer of Noshibacho Khell, 2016) in Mumbai – St Mary’s Hall Mazgaon on 1st November, 1986 with the then known Konkani artists, prompted us to enact the same drama on Thanks giving and Ex Members Day, 13th December, 1986, in Barkur. The entire Church ground was full to its capacity. The greatest number of spectators at least I have not seen, before, gathered to watch the glittering function, presided over by the then Bishop of Mangalore, Rt. Rev. Dr. Basil D’Souza, along all four previous and present Directors of CYM. The best of the performers on stage in Vera Montherío, Irene D’Souza, Freda Lewis, Late Lawrence A.Sequeira, Joseph Picardo, Vincent DÁlmeida, Late Herald Sequeira, Late Patrick Gonsalves, Sylvan D’Almeida, John Gonsalves, Eric L.Carvalho, Edwin Picardo, Divyanand Gonsalves etc. gave their life time best in acting, to live up to the expectations of Barkurians in particular and the neighboring Sastan, Brahmmavarites watching us with curiosity, in general. For years that followed, many a times, elders whispered, no play like that was witnessed by them before or after, for years……!
In my opinion, trend of CYM presenting 3-4 dramas in a calendar year, almost come to an end by this period, so also a decade of colorful, variety of dramas in our Barkur.
Today, we are having n number of options for entertainment. It’s a herculean task to make or persuade people to come out to watch the dramas. Exceptions like Wilfy Nite, events programmed & arranged by The Expressions, comedy packed plays by Alwyn Andrade and team, are few exceptions, still enjoy sway or grit over the spectators. If there is a 3 Hour Konkani social drama, now in Barkur, I am sure, it’s doubtful to attract a sizable audience.
Occasionally, here and there some quality shows are taking place. I still recollect one hilarious play Keppo Cyril, written by Sunil Menezes and enacted by Alfred Furtado, Peter Menezes, Lancer Fernandes, Steven Fernandes, Shaila D’Souza, Santhosh Fernandes. Siluchen Philu was the one enacted in the year 2001 and The Povitr Dolle in Dec 2002 are two other plays worthy a mention by youngsters of next generation. Roshan Picardo, Allwyn DÁlmeida, Sabitha Mascarenhus, Santhosh Fernandes etc had in depth talent, but by then, TV made its permanent dwelling, not to allow housewives to leave homes to watch dramas……!
We have to appreciate the people who supported behind the screen as prompters, People who were smart in stage settings, those engaged in stage management, etc. Francis Picardo, Wilfred Sequeira, Ronald Fernandes, Herald Sequeira, Joakim Mendonca, Joseph Rodrigues were experts off the stage. Artistic Poster writer Greshan D’Silva needs a special mention over here…….Excellent prompters in Ivan Rebello, Cynthia Carvalho, Pramila Roche, Ivy Rebello, Kishore Gonsalves, Arthur Mendonca, during our time, greatly responsible for our success, since people like me never had the habit of practice or dialogues rehearsals….!
Nevertheless, the passion for dramas never separated from me, even after reaching Mumbai. Henry D’Silva after Mogachi Deswatt, offered roles for two of us, viz Harry William Fernandes (known Director of Noshibacho Khell, incidentally this was a filtered story of Kazarachen Utar a drama by the same playwright) and me the Priests role, in his all time super hit Kazara Upranth, which was staged in all most all suburbs of Mumbai, Malad, Bandra, Thane, Borivali, Mazgaon etc. It was with this drama, we were fortunate to perform in Don Bosco Hall, Mangalore, Suratkal, Brahmmavar, Kundapur etc…..Its success persuaded the team to produce first ever video film in Konkani in 1988……..! Once it was filmed, and ready for release, I left Mumbai to land in Muscat in November, 1988.
We in Barkur have great and quality talent. The veterans of yester years in Leo DÁlmeida, James D’Lima, Cyril Sequeira, are just few names…..and today while viewing the movie Nosibhacho Khel, it was a proud moment to watch fellow Barkurian talents in Kishore Gonsalves, Alwyn & Sujata Andrade, Stany Pais, Franklin Fernandes, Stephen Lewis, Dolphy D’Souza, Gretta Andrade, Jessie Menezes, Eugene Quadrus etc etc …..on the silver screen. Thanks to our own son of soil, high profile Director, Harry William Fernandez, who know the pulse of Barkurians, more than anyone, for giving these opportunities?
Today’s trend is skits, short comedy dramas of one hour, dancing to the film songs etc……….Three hour long serious plays hardly have any audience……..Let us be grateful to our Barkurian spectators who at times tolerated and encouraged us to be in the limelight of recognition, during those days of CYM in Barkur.
While recalling each and every one’s contribution, request to keep the undersigned excused if any names / events were missed out….However, readers are welcome to add their own experiences and opinions, and as the length of the article already crossed its allotted three pages. Thanks to one and all.