Tiatra Deserves UNESCO Heritage Inscription
Nandkumar M Kamat
Tiatra of Goa (TOG) is flourishing -proving that in the age of globalisation and digital info-floods, Goa’s traditional cultural spine is intact. Look at some of the representative Tiatra names – ‘Podevedar’ by veteran Roseferns, ‘Konnak Patieupachem?’ by veteran Francis de Tuem, ‘Forever Yours’ by veteran Milagres de Chandor, ‘Amchaea Panvkank Uzvadd’ by Domnic Caravalho, ‘Tukai Tench Assa’ by veteran Sharon, Sally’s ‘Tumi Konnak Zai?’, ‘Goyem Konachem’ by ‘Seby De Divar’, veteran Menino de Bandar’s ‘Paichem Te Bhurgeachem’, ‘Fot Ulooinaka, Sot Uloi’ by Ives Tavares, ‘Don Roste’ by Mario Menezes, Menino Mario’s ‘Mogacho Ghonter’, Elvis Carmen’s ‘Mennache Pakate”, ‘Aadhar card’ by comedians Domnic and Luis Bachan, ‘Sopon’ by Pascoal de Chicalim, ‘Porzoll’ by veteran John D’ Silva , ‘Mog, Kazar, Divorce’ by comedian Agostinho, and ‘Zomnichi Dhul’ by Leonora D’Costa.
Not less than 16 Tiatras (and many more) would present estimated 500 shows this month and 1000 more next month. This means direct and indirect employment of 5-8000 people and a turnover of a few crore rupees. The cultural business model of Tiatra without any state subsidies is simple. It ensures that the money from Goans goes to Goans to create and maintain jobs for Goans in a non polluting cultural industry.
Tiatra of Goa (TOG) is being defined by this author as “an indigenous artistic creation, aimed to present a four dimensional cultural cosmos to overcome contemporary post industrial societal chaos, the stress of existential alienation of the working class, a theatre, a cathartic ventilator of Goa’s Konkani speaking folks, which blends elements of mass entertainment, often oscillating between pathos to eros while encompassing traditional and contemporary streams in stagecraft to champion progressive and reformist ethical values in the society.
Tiatra is wholesome, pure entertainment for the whole family and there is hardly any Tiatra which doesn’t stress on importance of the family system. Taking note of 125 years of rich multicultural traditions of Konkani Tiatra of Goa and the sustained popular patronage in our state and all the locations where Konkani speaking Goan NRIs are settled, in the forthcoming monsoon session of Goa legislative assembly a unanimous resolution needs to be passed by the government to approach UNESCO through Government Of India to get this unique form in India and Asia- the most deserving inscription as intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The Tiatra Akademy Of Goa (TAG) can then advocate and follow the implementation of this resolution. It could get full support of UNESCO member countries from EU, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Both the Prime Minister of Portugal and Secretary General of UN have connections to Goa and would be willing to support such a sensible demand. UNESCO inscription would bring TOG on global stage.
Cultural anthropologist and critic late Dr Pramod Kale had already brought it to the attention of the western world. Like GIP registered Cashew Feni, and the famous Malcordao mangoes, the Neolithic mask dance drama Perani Zagor, ecofeminist Dhalo, multicultural Mando and aesthetic Dekhani, Tiatra is Goa’s unique gift to the world. TOG is a gift from the working class, the subalterns of Goa to humanity. It is multidimensional and stunning form of mass entertainment and moral education. What a priest fails to achieve in several sermons, a powerful performance of well-directed Tiatra can achieve in a single show. And Tiatra of Goa is not an ordinary gift. It’s one of the most cosmopolitan, socialist, progressive, multicultural and dynamic gift.
When my good friend and guide in all facets and affairs of Tiatra, ex-Speaker of Goa Assembly Tomazinho Cardozo requested me to contribute an article in February 2005 for the special souvenir to celebrate 25 years of Kala Mogi of Candolim to Tiatra, I had to take a very serious look at the origin, genesis, evolution and transformation of this form.
In my article published by “Kala Mogi’ –‘An epistemological interpretation of Tiatr-the popular Konkani medium for folk catharsis’, I had mentioned that the Tiatra is product of post-industrial Asian colonial society and if the founding father of Tiatra Lucasinho Ribeiro were not to be employed in an Italian opera company probably Tiatra would not have originated. On April 17, 1892 Ribeiro may not have envisioned the future of the form when he presented the first, historic Tiatra- ‘Italian Bhurgo’ followed by– Alladin, Alibaba, Carlos Magno- trying to experiment under foreign influence. But Tiatra underwent a transformation in the hands of Margao’s Joao Agostinho Fernandes. He may be called the liberator of Tiatra from foreign influence and giving it a real Goan skin.
The pre liberation Tiatra had its limits under repressive, feudal, elitist Portuguese colonial society. The masses continued to entertain themselves with “Zagors” and “loka khel”. Establishment of Kala Akademy and the beginning of state level Tiatra competitions launched a new movement in TOG. A few culturally spirited Tiatra lover Goans who formed Goa Cultural and Social Centre simultaneously launched another movement to promote “Mando’ tradition of Goa. It is credit to them for organizing 51 state level Mando competitions despite lack of sustained state patronage.
Under the guidance of Tiatra veteran Tomazinho Cardozo from 2000, I actively lobbied with the state government to form the Tiatr Academy of Goa. When the government nominated me as chairman of task force committee to prepare the draft of state cultural policy in 2002, I requested Tomazinho to submit his recommendations. He formed a small subcommittee of stakeholders and came out with wonderful suggestions.
Finally, the government accepted these recommendations after notifying Goa state cultural policy in January 2007 and Tiatr Academy of Goa was established in 2009. The then chief minister of Goa Digambar Kamat was fully convinced about the importance of TOG and the need to form TAG. He knew about the contributions made by Tomazinho Cardozo to unite all the Tiatrists and work for their welfare. Naturally on January 6, 2009, Cardozo was nominated as founder president of TAG. In less than 10 years TAG has done impressive work. It has managed to keep the Tiatrists of Goa united. TAG needs to train, recruit and finance talented youngsters for Tiatra, launch state Tiatra promotion fund, promote and publish better scripts and organize select Tiatra performances in cities in India and abroad with sizeable Goan residents. Goans should unite behind TAG to get UNESCO inscription to Tiatra as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.