|From L-R: Tomazinho Cardozo, Rajendra Talak, Premanand Lotlikar and Walter Menezes|
Tiatr Academy of Goa (TAG) in association with Dalgado Konknni Akademi (DKA) observed Konknni Cinema Dis (Day) on April 24, 2011. It was on this day, in the year 1950 that the first Konknni cinema – Mogacho Aunddo – was premiered. This film was produced and directed by A L Jerry Braganza, who also acted in the lead role along with Leena Fernandes. Since Mogacho Aunddo was the first Konknni film on the silver screen, A L Jerry Braganza has rightly been considered as the Father of Konknni Cinema.
Rajendra Talak, noted Konknni filmmaker and recipient of many national awards, graced the function as the Chief Guest. The presidents of the TAG and the DKA, Tomazinho Cardozo and Premanand Lotlikar respectively too shared the space on the dais.
The gathering was welcomed by Premanand Lotlikar. In his speech, the president of the DKA, stressed on the immense contribution of A L Jerry Braganza to Konknni films. A L Jerry Braganza ventured in a place that no one before him had dared to go, he said. In order to raise the finances for the movie, A L Jerry Braganza visited each and every kudd (Goan club) in Bombay and did not hesitate to collect a donation of even five rupees. The shares of ETICA (Exchange Talkies of India, China and Africa) which co-produced the movie came in for a special mention during the function.
What was interesting to note was that Premanand Lotlikar, by a dint of good fortune, came across a share certificate of ETICA and displayed the facsimile of the same to the gathered audience. He also shared a letter, which states that the said company was also in the process of producing two documentaries, but unfortunately no record so far is available of them, the DKA president informed. He also opined that perhaps, due to the huge financial resources required to make a film, A L Jerry Braganza may even have taken loans without thinking as to how to repay them.
|Succoro de Santacruz and Maria Cardozo|
Rajendra Talak in his address marveled at the feat achieved by the Father of Konknni cinema. He said that even with the latest technology and equipment available, the task of making a film is not rendered any easier and hence it would be have been a lot more difficult to make movies during the time of A L Jerry Braganza. Rajendra Talak suggested that such a historic day like this and such a colossal contribution to Konknni cinema by A L Jerry Braganza merits not a modest function like the one organized by TAG and DKA but a full-fledged Konknni film festival lasting a few days. He pledged his full support to any future endeavours by TAG and DKA (which incidentally do have big plans in the future). Rajendra Talak was also happy to inform that the number of people going to theatres to watch a Konknni movie is steadily increasing. There is a need, he stated, for directors and producers to continuously offer good Konknni cinema as people are starting to appreciate such films.
The common thread running through all speeches of recognizing the true contributions of personalities hitherto neglected (like A L Jerry Braganza) and giving them their due was also found in the address of Tomazinho Cardozo. He was of the opinion that comparing Konknni films with that of Bollywood films was not proper. This is because Bollywood films are made on a huge budget compared to a budget of a few lakhs spent to produce Konknni films. By unceremoniously dismissing a Konknni film as substandard, Tomazinho opined, that we dismiss the hard labour of everyone associated with the film. It is our duty, he stressed, to purchase a ticket and watch every Konknni film as that is the only way films in Konknni can thrive.
The formal function was followed by a brief musical programme wherein Succoro de Santacruz, Sonia Fernandes, Clarissa Fernandes and Maria Cardozo belted out hits from Konknni films and they were accompanied on the keyboards by Mukhesh Ghatwal. Walter Menezes compered the function and gave valuable information about Mogacho Aunddo.
(A version of this article appeared on Gomantak Times, dt: April 27, 2011)