The first ever International Konkani Film Festival held in Kuwait was a celebration of cinema par excellence that will certainly be talked about for years to come. The festival spread over 2 days (25 and 26 February) brought a continuous flow of audience to the American International School auditorium.
The fest's forward-looking heart is apparent from the words of chief organizer Shri Carmo Santos, who expressed a dream to make the event an annual platform for Konkani film premieres and award ceremonies.
While sharing his happiness on the success of the festival, Mr. Santos stated, “We are delighted to unite Goans and Mangaloreans through the medium of cinema. The ‘winner’ of this film festival is our mother tongue Konkani, and the talented, smart, innovative people involved in the field.”
Indian Ambassador to Kuwait H.E. Sunil Jain, chief guest at one of the movies, had a word of praise for Goan Cultural Centre (GCC), who arranged the festival in association with T-Bush International Films and the Konkani Community of the Holy Family Cathedral.
“It is a delight to know this is the first international Konkani film festival and Kuwait is the host,” stated Shri Jain, further adding, “we shall support Konkani art, language and films, always.”
It should be noted Konkani films has a limited scope. Just a handful of Goan and Mangalorean films are produced in a year. Limited audience, difference in dialects and lack of resources has been a drawback to Konkani cinema for long.
However, this has gradually vanished with the release of some spectacular movies in recent times. Many Goan stars are seen in Mangalorean movies while Mangalorean artistes are working together in Goan films too.
Ester Noronha, lead actress of Noshibacho Khell, who was present at the festival, has sung for Nachom-ia Kumpasar and is lined up to feature in a forthcoming Goan film.
Kuwait-based filmmaker T-Bush who was in-charge of the technicalities, ensured each sound and image was reproduced with digital accuracy, just as the directors intended.
Select movies that were screened at the Kuwait festival included Big Ben, Nirmon, Home Sweet Home-2, Enemy, Noshibacho Khell, and Nachom-ia Kumpasar.
A number of dignitaries, personalities and artistes representing the films were on visit to Kuwait as part of the festival.
Present among the delegation were Glen Barretto, and Simon D'Silva – Producer and Co-producer of Nachom-ia Kumpasar; Swapnil Shetkar - producer/writer/director, and John D'Silva - lead star of Home Sweet Home-2; Nilesh Newalkar and Armando Fernandes - producers of Nirmon; Mark de Araujo - producer/writer/director/lead star of Big Ben; Henry D'Silva - producer and Ester Noronha - lead actress of Noshibacho Khell.
Religious clergy who were special invitees at the event included Fr. Antony Lopez, Fr. Franco Pereira, Fr. Xavier D'Souza and others.
REVIEW OF FILMS BASED ON AUDIENCE OPINION
Written, directed, edited by Mark de Araujo, who also plays the lead role, BIG BEN is a film which will surely capture hearts of Goans connected to friends and families living in the UK.
The film reveals some of the unspoken lifestyles of Goans, their hardships, addictions, immoral bondages related to their life, and their influence on families back home in Goa.
The movie showcases some of London's landmark monuments including the famous Big Ben tower clock (reminder of life in the glittering city), and explores into a number interesting must-see facts that are well presented by Mark de Araujo in words that weep and tears that speak.
Some of the dialogues and language used in the movie has a true-to-life flair and alluring effect on the audience to watch the film with delight.
Big Ben’s title track ‘Eio London-chea Xharant’ penned by Mark de Araujo himself and sung by playback singer Veeam Braganza is perhaps one of the best title tracks among the screened movies.
Jessica Gomes, in the role of a wife, has done super acting, and the way she is gracefully captured in every scene is highly admirable.
The role of Steffi Goes, as ‘girlfriend’ needs ‘special mention’ too.
Mark de Araujo's acting in the movie and his stellar screen presence promises a star on the horizon for future Konkani films, and a filmmaker of immense vision and creativity.
A remake of the 1966 classic, made with a fresh cast, new screenplay and improved dialogues, NIRMON retains all the elements of the original movie from the storyline to the soulful songs, although with a few improved pinches and twists.
Anagha Joshi’s perfection in the role of Claudia, impeccable selection of all characters, beautiful 'photography', perfect editing, and the immortal songs and dialogues of the film is what makes the film so iconic and popular.
The film’s songs including the everlasting hits ‘Claudia’ and ‘Dol Mhojea Bai’, which are so synonymous with every Goan household as the most favorite lullabies for kids, were released in an audio CD at the festival.
The original NIRMON remains the only Konkani movie to be remade into a Bollywood film, and dubbed into 7 different languages.
It will surely remain one of the best films in Konkani.
HOME SWEET HOME – II
Home Sweet Home-2, a sequel to its earlier part, is attractively done like an A-Grade commercial Hindi movie.
A mixture of dialogues in different languages, variety of songs, brilliant background music, etc, makes the film spicy. However, the movie sounds extremely ‘noisy’ at times.
The script based on alleged scams unleashed by ‘Goan’ politicians in the state makes the film a must watch for ‘locals’.
If truth be told, the movie seems to have drawn audience (out of interest) purely on the basis of its earlier episode which was far superior than the concluding part.
Aryan Khedekar who has played such 'photogenic' roles in both the HOME SWEET HOME films looks great enough for a place in Hindi film industry.
Prince Jacob plays a role of Goan CM which is exceptionally enacted and portrayed.
Rajdeep Naik and John D’Silva have played their part to perfection, however, they do not seem naïve and demure enough like they did in the first part which made them popular with the audience.
The movie should stand documented in the annals of Konkani cinema as the best ‘nonfictional’ film.
The unique subject is wisely explored and studied. It is sure to catch the eye of national media and international audience alike.
No wonder the film won the Best Konkani film Award at the National level and was awarded Best Foreign Language Film at the Milan Film Festival in Italy.
The movie is a must-watch for Goans as it is alleged in reality that Indian Home Ministry has identified over 250 ‘ENEMY’ properties worth more than Rs 100 crore in the state that belong to Goans who have acquired Pakistani nationality.
‘ENEMY’ properties are those whose survey numbers are registered in the names of Goans who migrated to Pakistan decades ago.
Dialogues of the movie, apparently written by Sahitya Akademi Award winner Shri Damodar Mauzo, are among the best dialogues for films screened at the festival.
The dialogues are executed to realistic excellence and interest by Meenakshi Martins playing the role of a ‘mother’. The actress who aslo plays an important role in Nachom-ia Kumpasar could be nominated for the best actress role if there was one at the festival.
Salil Naik rightly justifies his role as the army captain and young son in ENEMY, while Samiksha Desai presents attraction to the film by her beautiful presence.
‘ENEMY’ audience are bound to stay glued to the screen and enjoy the movie. It is the script, dialogues and on screen treatment that makes the movie so over the top.
Given the subject is so valuable to other Indian states as well, one wonders why the movie has not yet been dubbed in other languages?
The Mangalorean-made film meaning ‘a game of destiny’ revolves around the story line of rural life, love and mystery.
The highly melodramatic film has done numerous shows since its release and has become very popular among Mangaloreans; it drew a huge audience at the festival too.
Lead star Elton Mascarenhas has done a great role. He is a super star.
Ester Noronha, the beautiful heroine of the film brings glamor and grandeur to the film by her celebrity presence and stardom. She is ‘class’.
Ranjitha Lewis, in the second lead role, looks pretty confident in her act, so is the actress who plays Ranjitha’s mother.
Prince Jacob, comedy sensation from Goa, has impressed in the film with his unpretentious comedy and meticulous Goan-Mangalorean dialects.
Clenwin D’Souza, the actor who starred in the negative role, is the catch of the film. He is amazing for his age.
Mr. Henry D’Silva Suratkal, producer of the film, was present at the festival along with lead heroine Ester, and gave a great speech before screening of his movie.
A lot of publicity and glowing tributes can be found on the net referring to ‘Noshibacho Khell’ being the best movie ever made in Konkani.
However, the hype created around the movie seems overly magnified. There is nothing extraordinary about the film even though it is entertaining.
Flow of the movie is dazzling, no doubt -- the characters have performed with great passion, the delicious dialogues and ‘suspense’ keeps the audience captivated.
But the script is akin to any Hindi ‘masala’ movie which unbelievably runs into far too many impractical coincidences (not considering the ‘language’ itself especially in a metro like Mumbai) for the acceptance of logical minds.
Nothing marvelous about the songs, dance or action either that are ‘hot-mixed’ to make the movie entertaining, which is ultimately what the audience wants.
The titles and sub-titles look average for a mega film like ‘Noshibacho Khell’ while the dialogues of the film all throughout do not really sync to the lips of characters (probably only at the Kuwait screening?).
There is no denying that Nachom-ia Kumpasar’ has created a strong niche and buzz among films in the Konkan world after it was declared a stunning hit.
Since its launch, the masterpiece film has earned large amount of praise across India and abroad winning many awards; the film requires no further reviews.
The classic hit will leave any audience mesmerized.
It’s a nostalgic recreation of the 1960s era, an age that showcased Goa’s musical heritage.
One cannot but have a word of admiration to the lead stars of the film - Vijay Maurya and Palomi Ghosh.
Palomi is perhaps the perfect choice to play the role with her sparkling looks - a symbol of youth and maturity.
Comedian John D’silva, who was one of the attendees at the festival, is simply super in the film. His one liners are worth every applause – precise and expressive.
Meenakshi Martins, in the role of mother, is well noted in the film. Glen Barretto, producer of the film, who was present at the festival, revealed in his ‘splendid’ speech that this was the 25th film festival Nachom-ia Kumpasar had represented.
In his vote of thanks at the closing ceremony, Goan Cultural Centre (GCC) President Carmo Santos specially singled out Mr. Tibush Rebello of T-Bush International Films for great praise for his undying support towards the success of the festival, and the Kuwait Church for its undivided support towards the event.
Mr. Santos also thanked all the sponsors, supporters, volunteers, executive members of GCC, invited delegates, directors, producers, artistes, etc, who attended the festival.
Special mementos were presented to all the film delegates who attended from overseas.
The 2-day festival was compered by Anjali Amonkar and Gasper Crasto.
Special thanks were extended to: Arab Times, Kuwait Times, The Times Weekly (Media Partners), Jivit (Goan Konkani Monthly Magazine), Goencho Avaz (Konkani Weekly), Heraldo – Goan Newspaper, Navind Times, Indians in Kuwait, Mangalorean.com, Daijiworld, gaspersworld – blog, canaranews.com, indianfrontliners.com, Gulf Cable, Expat Properties, Mughal Mahal Restaurants, Eurostar Satellite Int'l Est (Onyx), Bhasin Co., Al Rashed Int'l Shipping Co., Shuwaikh Electrical Co., Indian Bangladeshi Translation Center, Air Arabia (Official Carrier), Eternity Travels & Tours, Pearl Vaz Photography (Official Photographer), Nazareth Brothers, Joseph and Elvira D'Souza, Mr & Mrs Mahesh Kaveri, Mr & Mrs. Bosco Leitao, Tony Dias & Fly, Reaven D'Souza, Agnello & Neeta Fernandes, Mr & Mrs Manoj Bandodkar, Lucy Aranha, Agnelo Rebello (Benz), Austin Abreo, Kamil Al Rais Theater (American Int’l School Auditorium), Kuwait Continental Hotel, Eternity Travels (Sohail Shaikh), Anand (Sound & Screen), T-Bush Rebello, Gasper Crasto (Compere & Media), Anjali Sushil Amonkar (Compere), Ramdas Revadkar, Casmiro Afonso, Felia Afonso, Simplicio Fernandes, Flavia Fernandes, Kuwait parishes, priests and members of Konkani Community.
FESTIVAL FOR A CAUSE
In a statement, the GCC president Mr. Carmo Santos disclosed that funds raised from the Film Festival would be donated towards the construction of Bahrain Cathedral.
Dedicated to Our Lady of Arabia, once completed, the cathedral would be the biggest church in the Middle East Gulf holding 2,600 congregants, and serving over 2.5 million Catholics.
Report by: Gasper Crasto
Photographs: Pearl Vaz