Thursday, July 16, 2009


Managing Editor, GOA TODAY

Passaing Away of the Pasha

On February 27 Goans were in for some deeply distressing tidings. The day witnessed the passing away of the acknowledged pasha of the Konkani drama (tiatr) and cinema, C.Alvares. The profundity of his death's impact has been such that myriads of his admirers haven't been able to get over the shock yet. Drawing a parallel, staturewise, I would say C.Alvares was to Goans what Raj Kapoor was for the Hindi buffs, or for that matter what Satyajit Ray meant to the Bengalees. Make no mistake, he was indeed that great, perhaps even greater! That he remained relatively unsung was very unfortunate.

The pride of Saligao (he was born there), C.Alvares trod the boards for the first time when he was a mere seven-year old tot. The event was a tiatr show at Sangolda. And that marked the start of what was to be a marathon career in theatre. For close to seven decades, he was at it parading his phenomenal theatrical versatality by acting, directing, writing, composing music, singing, in short doing just about everything that could possibly be done in the field of theatre and films.

To C.Alvares went the worthy distinction of being the youngest ever to direct and present a play. He achived that when he was in his nascent teens. The name of the play was Niddukai and, mark you, it had several stalwarts of the tiatr acting in it. One other seemingly unbeatable feat to his credit was the speed with which he had managed to script some of this hundred-plus plays - in just a day's time flat!

When I interviewed this master thespian that last time round for our magazine a shad over four years ago, I recall, how he had gone on to expatiate on his mode of writing plays. "I get everything well worked out in my mind - the plot, the sequence, the lyrics, the tunes, etc. Then I get two or three people to sit before me with pen in hand. And I start acting and dictating to them the lines flowing non-stop from my mind," he had said.

A committed tiatrist, C.Alvares was extremely upset of late to seek Khell tiatri take the centre stage at the expense of the traditional tiatr. Khell tiatr was out and out anathema to him. He hed it entirely responsible for besooting the image of the Konkani stage by introducing a combination of cheapness, obscenity and vulgarity on it.

Through C.Alvares was primarily a theatre person, his achievement on the Konkani silver screen was also worth going ga ga over. He figured exactly in a quintet of Konkani films, enacting the main male role in all of them. In that tear-jearker of a film, Nirmon, his part of a long-suffering father is imply unforgettable. Like the Hind matinee idol Dev Anand, C.Alvares has retained his youthful looks even after turning a septuagenarian. To him the epitet 'Evergreen Hero' was most befitting. Incidentally, 'Duet King' was yet another sobriquet he had attracted. That was for his majestic singing in tandem. The lack of State government encouragement to the Konkani cinema had saddened him no end.

Personally, every time I met C.Alvares (and I did meet him quite a few times) my admiration and respect for the man kept growing. In fact, I had begun idolizing him ever since the time I saw his tellar role in Amchem Noxib. I found him totally devoid of ego and at times behaviourally unright and endearing, almost to a fault. If he had so desired he could have wallowed in wealth, but he never chose to hanker after the lucre. The tiatr and the Konkani cinema was all that mattered to him.

If any Konkani artiste deserved a 'Padma' award it was surely C.Alvares. But he was not one given to lobbying for any personal honour, and as such never came into the reckoning for that coveted laurel. He died just the way he had desired to, remaining immersed in theatre work even when death was at his door-step. I am reminded of that famous quotation of John McCreery which reads thus. "There is no death! The stars go down to rise upon other shore, And bright in Heaven's bejewelled crown, They shine forever more". Let's all console ourselves by believing that our departed super star has done just that. Our cover story in this edition is on C.Alvares. It's our humble way of rendering posthumous honour to this genius.

[Cover Story in GOA TODAY - April 1999 - Cover picture by Alister Miranda]
Volume XXXIII Number 9 - April 1999

[As archived by gaspar almeida,]