Monday, February 15, 2010

Khell-Tiatr Ani Carnival

Khell, Khell-tiatr ani Carnival

The good old days...here is a short account of the zomni khell during
the Intruz (Carnival) in my village, Chinchinim.

Zomniche khell were mostly popular during Carnival (Intruz) and
Paskanchem fest (Easter). After the New year and three kings feast,
people eagerly waited for Carnival because of the khells,
especially in the villages of Salcete.

In Chinchinim, there are 15-20 wards or Vaddos. Each Vaddo has
a place called 'Mandd',which was usually located close to a Chapel
which was surrounded by trees.

Khell was mostly performed at the "mandd" or near Regidor's
residence and sometimes in compounds of pvt homes if they
could afford.(mostly tarvotti ) The ward committee members
collected a small amount (Rs 5 at my time) from each house
to pay for the performers of the khell.

A Khell was formed by a group of artists. The head or the writer/
director was called "Mestri" and other participants were khellgaddi.

The band consisted of player of instruments like drum, trumpet,
clarinet and at times a banjo.

With the exception of band members, all other members of the
troupe wore a colourful uniform. There were no ladies taking part
in the khell, but some gents enacted ladies role; they wore a sari
or a dress. Anita Pereira from Chinchinim was the first female
to act in a khell called "Mundkar Nores'.
In addition to the performers, there used to be a lady cook and
helper to carry their bags n other musical instruments.

The famous khell groups came mostly from the coastal villages of
Carmona,Varca, Orlim, Marjorda Benaulim, Colva, Betalbatim,
besides some groups from Chinchinim, Verna and St. Jose de Areal.
In those days, they mostly travelled on foot from one village to
another and/or from one ward to another. In the late 70's and 80's,
they started travelling by mini buses or open tempos.
Wherever they traveled, they always played music.. the drum,
snare drum, trumpet and clarinet. When a khell reached a 'mandd',
the ward members negotiated the rates of an act/play..depending
on the popularity of the group. If a group was famous one,then they
would agree for two acts/plays. At times when the mestri or ward
members could not reach an agreement, the troupe would leave
the'mandd' but not without singing one or two songs at the 'mandd';
this was to give respect for the 'mandd'. If they reached an
agreement, they would give time for the mestri to start the play till
most ward people arrived.

As kids, the moment we heard the beat of the drum, we used to run,
leaving whatever work we did, and so did our elders. At the mandd a
circle was formed and the children had to sit on the ground;
the elders stood around them. Some would get chairs if their houses
were close by; others would make it on treetops..madd or ambe.

One got to see many khell in my ward "Dandeavaddo" in Chinchinim
as it is located on the main junction of Cuncolim-Sarzora road and
close to Chinchinim bazaar.

The khell would start with an Imno - opening chorus, wherein the
khellgaddi would stand in two rows in front of the band and introduce
themselves, and the act that was to follow. After the Imno, they
would stand in a circle and then start the play with dialogues,
followed by a song which was sung in two pitches. “ primeiro
and segundo". The songs were mostly related to the story or
dialogue. At the end of the song, if the act required them to visit
another house, they would say: "Atam hanv kit kortolom?‌...
Matxe bhattant pasoi martolom or bazrant voitolom or Jaki ghor
voitolom" and then as he starts to walk, the band would play.
If there was a policeman, the popular police march would follow..
for a batkar a decent tune and if a comedian..a comic tune.

The plays were mostly based on short stories..on family,
bhatkars,
kunbis, Akbar and Birbal etc. Children were fascinated with the
'Rakhos' or Rakesh...(Giant ) part wherein the actor would wear
a black dress covering his whole body from head to toe with
a tail hanging from behind...his opening dialouge would be...
ha ha ha anv rakhos...maka pel munxeacho vas yeta..:)
(ha ha ha...I am the giant and I can smell humans)

At times there would be 2-3 groups waiting to perform at the
same "mandd". Whenever we heard that another khell arrived there
used to be some commotion, and then the ward commitee members
would stop the play for a few minutes n announce
"Bosai Bosai..ho khell somptoch dusro nachtolo"'
(sit sit after this play gets over the next one will start)

To know where the khells are performing one had to keep an ear on
the drum beats or ask the passerby on cycles"arey khell fuim
nachota (where are the khells performing).n they would reply,
"Dandevaddo mandar nachota or Olinda tinga nachta
(khell is going on at dandeavaddo or at Olind auntys place)
or simply follow the khellgadi where ever they perform.

This way, all the 3 days of Intruz would go on. But their performance
was best on the first and the second day, as by the third day they
would be exhausted and their voices would become rough.

There was khell competition during the Carnival, which was performed
onstage. The competition was mostly with rival groups; whoever won,
was awarded a big trophy. The handbills and the boards would show
both the parties pulling on the cup from both sides. In course of time,
these competitions were with the Tiatros. The first to perform was a
tiatro, a short one, and then a khell...ultimately it gave rise to what is
now called "Khell Tiatr".

Mestri Kuddo Minguel from Chinchinim was famous for the "opari";
also Sucor Piedade from Verna. There was another mestri from
Carmona..Anton Marie whose khells with emotional dialogues and
opari mesmerized the hearts of the people, Francis Mestri from
Durga was famous for his songs while Buk Buko from Chinchinim
and Xempea Minguel from Benaulim made the people laugh.

Mestri Niclau Marian from Nesai and Santiago Pereira from Padde
khells were also good. The only Hindu to act in khells in those days
was Gunno from Chandor. Marian from Vhodlem Bhatt Benaulim
and Don Toklo from Colva were also very famous mestris, besides
the well known Xalibai, F.Coloi and Bhataghotto.

Antonio Moraes .. well known as A. Moraes was the first to make
changes and take the zomni khell on the stage...and there after
the best of the Khells were seen on stage; the famous groups
refused to perform on the ground; they performed only on stage...
Vitorin Pereira, Patrick Dourado and Ligorio Fernandes
were famous on stage. Slowly, these khells were aired on
Akashwani as 'Lokham khell'.

It was in the early 70's, the late Rosario Rodrigues came up with a
non-stopshow...'Ekech Ratri ani Ami Fator'. The highlight of this
show was that music was played non-stop, besides show was well
received by the people for its powerfull dialouges, comedy, acting
and it completed more than 150 shows in Goa and Mumbai.
From then on, every show of Rosario was a hit! I can say that
Rosarios non-stop shows brought an end the Bomboikar
Tiatrists and Tiatrists reign from the North.

A lot of changes have been made from the original zomni khell to the
present Tiatro, but the smaller groups still perform the zomni khell,
ofcourse with the changes as ones I have seen in the videos with
new changes. The present day Tiatr is a combination of the old
zomni khell and tiatr, in that the Khell had songs which were related
to the story, whereas in a tiatr, the songs sung were not related
to the story.

Some of the current well known khell-tiatrs who have changed to
tiatrs are Prince Jacob, Mario Menezes,Roseferns, Menino Mario..
Jose Rod, etc.