Comedy at its best

Comedy at its best

J P Pereira

Jose Jesus Antao has neither had any family in the tiatr field nor any godfather. All he had was a god given talent for making people laugh. And today, the Chinchinim-based artiste has made a name for himself in the tiatr field.

In fact his tryst with comedy onstage began during his school days at St Bosco’s School, Chinchinim. One of the teachers there, Prakash Narvenkar, used to present a tiatr with the students for the school annual day every year. This paved a way for the young boy to perform.

“One day, as I was singing I took the wrong pitch which was quite high and could not continue. I was so embarrassed that I ran off the stage and did not come to school for three days,” recounts Jesus laughing. But his talent could not be suppressed and he continued acting in the annual tiatr.

In 1982, Vijay Dias cast him in his one act play titled ‘Thank You Doctor’. This was followed by ‘Khoim Tum Vetai’, a tiatr by Anthony Mendes, performed at the Kala Academy Tiatr competition where Jesus bagged the award for Best Comedian. George Fernandes spotted him and offered him the comedy role ‘Dusman’. The non-stop show was staged all over Goa, 60 times. But shows were cancelled thereafter following a grave error during the 61st performance at Mapusa.

In one of the scenes depicting the hanging of a criminal, the supporting rope around the shoulder slipped and the noose tightened around the neck of the individual. With the flickering lights on, noone on the stage noticed! Fortunately the trumpeter in the band saw what was happening, jumped up onto the stage and held the actor. “Our band leader saved the day or else there would have been a great tragedy,” says Jesus.

Jesus continued to get other offers for commercial tiatr. Menino de Bandar cast him in ‘Deodita’ and later in ‘Sucorrina’ as the main comedian. This was the nonstop show that completed a double century in its first run. Jesus had made a mark on the stage as one of the liveliest comedian, who provided humour with his body language, dialogue delivery and a ‘no nonsense care a damn’ attitude.

In 1987, Rosario Rodrigues, the creator of the nonstop shows and one of the best writer-director in Konkani entertainment, invited him to join his troupe in ‘Fulam ani Kole’. Jesus went on to become a hit with the audience. He continued with Rosario for many seasons and was a part of many shows that completed a century.

However things came to a standstill when on February 15, 1990, while returning home from Ponda after performing for Rosario in ‘Mhoje Voniecho To’, he met with a serious accident. He lay in coma at the GMC for 38 days, and was later shifted to Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai. After recovery he took a year’s break from the stage before making a grand comeback in ‘Anik Ek Mhoino’. He later acted for Roseferns, Patrick Dourado, Pascoal Rodrigues, Mike Mehta, John Claro, Mario Menezes, John D’Silva, Ligorio Fernandes, Maxcy Pereira, and others. He has rubbed shoulders on stage, with the late stalwarts like Ophelia, C Alvares, M Boyer, Prem Kumar, Alfred Rose, Bab Peter, Jacinto Vaz, Seby Coutinho, Betty Naz, Jessie, Rita Rose, Antonette Mendes, Joe Rose, and many others.

And along the way there have been a few ‘incidents’ on stage too. Jesus recalls one that happened while performing in Majorda: “It was a non -stop show. The plank of the makeshift stage on which I was standing collapsed and I did a ‘disappearing’ act falling with the plank. It was embarrassing, but the audience did laugh but later looked worried!”

Apart from Goa, Jesus has performed in most of the Gulf countries where tiatr is staged. He has also performed in many places in India, especially Mumbai where he has been well appreciated. Besides tiatr, he has released ‘Hanv MP’, ‘Saguvad’, ‘Holiday’ and two other audio discs. ‘Ashirvad’, ‘Budvont JakInas’, ‘Hansot Rav’ and ‘Fottkiro Agent’ are the four comedies he released on video.

Recently, Jesus performing for ‘Thank You God’ by Pal Soares, and the Lenten tiatr ‘Khursachi Vatt’ by Willie Silveira. Talent, hard work and perseverance has taken the comedian this far. Today, he lives with his wife Luiza and their son Sheldon is working abroad. And he is glad that he had made use of the talent given to him by God. He also hopes that tiar will continue to entertain in the coming years. “This traditional form of entertainment should be continued by newcomers. They should show interest, responsibility and the acting should be natural,” he says.