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Goa: not just fish, feni and football... but films too

GOA, India: Over 90 films have been shot with Goa as their backdrop, talented Goan musicians have contributed a lot to Bollywood, as the Mumbai (Bombay)-based film industry churning out 1000 films year currently is called

Actresses from Goa like Ermelinda Cardoso (screen-name: Sudhabala) have played an important role in the silent movie era, a book called 'Location Goa', looking at the links between films and
this small region on the west coast, says.

Its author, the journalist Mario Cabral e Sa, suggests that Cardoso -- who used the stage-name of Sudhabala -- probably also "introduced (prominent Bollywood star) Prithviraj Kapoor to Indian cinema. 'Sudhabala' starred in more than 30 films, and acted opposite Prithiviraj Kapoor in 'Cinema Girl'.

Goa, now home of the International Film Festival of India and fighting hard to ward off the claim that it has little or no film-culture, has hit back with a 257-page large-sized book that traces this small region's links with the film industry here.

IFFI, the International Films Festival of India, shifted here since November 2004 for the past four years, was meant to be permanently sited at Goa.

But after investing huge funds, the glitches in past years resulted in hints from New Delhi that the festival may be shifted out of Goa. Indian regional film-industries protested against Goa being sited as the permanent venue, and the 'lack of a film culture' has frequently been cited against Goa's case.

Released during IFFI 2006 -- but yet to be widely circulated or noticed even here -- the book 'Location Goa' is by journalist-author and Goa expert Mario Cabral e Sa. Cabral e Sa has researched scripts for Goa-related feature films and documentaries. He has authored 16 books too.

'Location Goa' also makes a case to suggest that Goa "from a cinematic point of view ... has a charm of its own, a tradition, culture, and both man-made and natural environment which are unmatchable".

Director Shyam Benegal writes in the book: "I visited Goa for the first time in 1967, a few years after its liberation from Portuguese rule. It was an extraordinary experience. Goa was both a part and apart from the rest of India."

Indian journalist-critic-screenwriter Deepa Gahlot comments that "films too numerous to list have been shot in Goa", and besides Bollywood, these include international films like 'The Sea Wolves', 'The Bourne Supremacy', 'Bride and Prejudice', 'Marigold', among others.

She adds: "Hindi films have had many characters with (Goan) names like Pinto, Braganza, Fernandes, Gonsalves, D'Costa and D'Silva; lots of Monicas, Rosies, Michaels and Monas. Two
films with Goan heroines named 'Julie' have been made, and the legendary Bobby was also a Braganza from Goa. One of Amitabh Bachchan's most loved characters (Amar Akbar Anthony)
was called Anthony Fernandes (another typically Goan name)."

But the critic suggests that some films showed Goa as a stereotype. On her list of best films linked to Goa, Gahlot lists Jaal (1952), Johar Mehmood in Goa (1965), Saat Hindustani (1969), Bombay to Goa (1972), Bobby (1973), Julie (1975), Ek Dujje Ke Liye (1981), Pukar (1983), Trikal (1985) and Saagar (1985).

Also on her list are Jalwa (1987), Goonj (1989), Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na (1993), Khamoshi-The Musical (1996), Josh (2000), Musafir (2004), Dhoom (2004), My Brother Nikhil (2005), Shabd
(2005), and Holiday (2006).

Some films on Goa like 'Saat Hindustani', dwell on the fight against Portuguese colonialisation, or a Bollywoodised version of it. Others like 'Trikal' look at changes brought in on Goa by its diverse rulers, from Portuguese to the Indian government.

"Hindi cinema represents Goans as people on the margins of society," complains journalist Jerry Pinto, himself a Mumbai-based Goan.

Another journalist tracked down the legendary Anthony Gonsalves, and "scores of other talented Goan musicians in the Hindi film industry".

There's also a chapter on local Konkani film, whose history was almost forgotten, till some fans of it pointed out that its roots extended five decades -- with films mostly created by expat Goans often based in Mumbai (then Bombay).

This book also lists the big stars who have "pranced and danced on the sets in Goa" which is a popular place for shooting Bollywood films too. They include Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Aishwarya Rai, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherji, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and others.

This book also compares past IFFIs held in Goa -- some full with traffic-jams, extravagance and political gamesmanship, and others "more relaxed, more focused on serious cinema".

Criticism of festivals here have also been connected to which side of the BJP-Congress political divide one is on.

Frederick Noronha http://fn.goa-india.org Ph +91-832-2409490

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