Saturday, 14 May 2011

IMPROVING AND ENCOURAGING TALENT IN TRADITIONAL 'KHELLS'


Seby de Quepem receiving the best play award
Despite the onslaught of cable and other more glittering forms of entertainment, the traditional khells have survived all odds. The khells along with the tiatrs are the most loved form of theatre amongst Goans, especially Catholics. Originally, the khells were performed on the ground and hence were called zomnnivoile khell. These khells which were staged during Carnival in Quepem received a shot in the arm due to the efforts of the Navyug Vikas Manch, Quepem.
The Navyug Vikas Manch held the prize-distribution ceremony of Konknni Traditional Folk Play Festival organized during this year’s Carnival on 11 May, 2011. The folk plays were staged at various places in Quepem and were judged by a panel of three eminent judges: John Claro Fernandes, the noted tiatrist from Quepem, Jose Salvador Fernandes, the secretary of Dalgado Konknni Akademi and Jerome Rodrigues, a music teacher from Quepem and former conductor of Kala Academy’s Goa Symphony Orchestra. The khells are a traditional part of the Carnival celebrations which consists of three one-act plays called partios.
            A total of seven troupes participated in the competition taking the overall sum of individual actors to more than a hundred (inclusive of musicians and back-stage support artists). Seby de Quepem’s Him Amchim Konn? was adjudged as the best play. Ubaldo Fernandes (Salam’ Tuka) and Celina Fernandes (Sonvsar Mon’xak Haloyta) bagged the best acting award (male and female respectively). The best child artist (male and female) award went to Floid Fernandes (Sonvsar Mon’xak Haloyta) and Kenisha Fernandes (Tunvem Mhaka) while the funniest comedians (male and female) were Saldie Colaco (Pois Kelo Mhaka) and Jenifa Simoes (Gõychi). The prizes for the best Kant, best direction and best script was bagged by Jose de Velim (Pois Kelo Mhaka), Seby de Quepem (Him Amchim Konn?) and Xavier de Sanguem (Tumkam Visvas Asa?) respectively.
Twins in real life, Clarina and Clarissa Gonsalves (Fottoilem) and Bobet de Quepem received special mention awards. Clement Goes (Him Amchim Konn?) was judged as the best musician. All the participants received a certificate, a gift and a Romi Konknni book of either short stories or one-act plays. The winners of special awards received a memento.
            The later tiatr had its antecedents in the zagors and khells and organizing competitions of this nature will only ensure that such traditions and heritage is kept alive. Case in point proved to be the competition organized at Quepem during the Carnival. Remedio Rebello, member of the Navyug Vikas Manch informed that because the judges could pay a visit anytime to any venue where the plays were staged, the directors and actors had put in much hard work and people were able to enjoy some good plays. Since most of the people residing in the interiors and backward areas of Quepem rarely come to the cities during Carnival, staging the plays at their doorsteps “made them feel very happy,” informed Mr. Rebello. He further revealed that the competition was organized with the main intention of improving and elevating the standard of the khells, which are a part of our heritage.
            I tried to get some local feedback on the plays that were staged and although many felt that this was a good beginning, much is needed to be done as far as standard is concerned. The talent and enthusiasm is very much there, only it needs to be channelized in a proper way. Many of the performances were raw but a diamond only becomes a diamond when properly cut and polished.
On being asked how he felt after winning the best play award, Seby de Quepem said, “It was a great moment. This award is encouragement enough for me to pursue bigger forms of the drama.” Commenting on what improvements should be made in the traditional folk plays he said, “A message needs to be conveyed through every song and skit. There should be no vulgarity and foul language included in the play as they are always meant for family viewing.”
The chairman of the Navyug Vikas Manch and the MLA of Quepem, Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar, when contacted said, “We are going to continue organizing this festival every year as it would lead to a healthy competition amongst the directors of Quepem.” Asked if any workshops would be conducted to improve the standard and impart guidance in khells, he said, “Whatever steps that are needed to be taken to encourage talent in khells and tiatrs, will be taken by our trust.”
The students of the Fr. Agnel School of Music and Performing Arts led by Fr. Mark Furtado, enthralled the audience with a rich repertory of instrumental music at the beginning of the awards ceremony.
Seby de Quepem, who won the award for the best play, has already been motivated enough to leap from the ground (zomnnivele khell) to the stage with his maiden tiatr scheduled in December. We wish him and others like him, all the very best!

(A version of this article appeared on Gomantak Times, dt: May 14, 2011)

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