Sunday, 1 June 2014

Utram



                                                                                                   
-Brian Mendonca

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to watch a tiatr? The feast of options available during this season leaves one spoilt for choice. Tiatr is vibrant in South Goa. Banner headlines greet you in the newspaper with colourful ads heralding the tiatrs which are to be performed.

 Margao is blessed with Gomant Vidya Niketan’s AC hall and Pai Tiatrist AC hall at Ravindra Bhawan. An ad announcing the last show of Utram written and directed by comedian Ambe made us wait back in Margao last Sunday to take in the 3.30 p.m. show at GVN. This was after a leisurely lunch at a beach resort at Colva by the sea.

What we liked best was that it started on time and wound up by 6.10 after an intermission of 10 minutes. The social ‘message’ was simple. Utram / ‘Words’ showed how the words we use affect the lives of those around us.  The old and the handicapped are often chided with harsh words for no fault of theirs and feel unloved and unwanted.  What we prefer doing is throwing flowers in the river in memory of the dead but fail to show our concern and care for them when they are living with us.

The 2½ hours sped by. The tiatrists provided a gleeful take on current happenings and endowed it with heaps of satire and wit. With political satire; buffoonery; laying of bets where the loser always loses; slapstick comedy; soulful songs; crisp dialogue; dazzling and often outrageous costumes -- it was a spectacular affair. Though we reached an hour earlier we preferred the back row (Queenie suggested ‘Q’ row) where we could scuttle out anytime we wanted. But we stayed right till the end, with baba braving the AC and attempting (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep.

Here was creativity at its best -- without too much sexual innuendo -- offering family fun with even a few ‘ghost’ scenes thrown in.  The ghosts raid the kitchen every time they make an appearance and once disrobe the tattler (aptly called Aadhar Card-ozo) to teach her a lesson! Saxtti Konkani had us in splits with the cameo of the frustrated music director taking auditions -- dejected that there are no singers worth their salt in Konkani. Hopeful singers screech their songs in Hindi, Tamil and English to no avail—except for an assault on the ears! The lungi dance is performed with a Goan twist.

Numerous Goans vacationing in Goa at this time soak in their mai-bhas /’mother tongue’, brush up their Konkani, and get acquainted with local issues. Alternately, tiatrists travel within the country and abroad to present their tiatrs.

It is interesting to simply sit and watch the crowd who attend the tiatrs.  There was a person who could not walk – he ‘climbed down’ the staircase on his buttocks. An enormous lady could hardly sit. Both of them, despite their severe bodily limitations, came anyway to watch the tiatr. The appeal of tiatr remains undiminished to tiatr-lovers. See one today!
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Published in Gomantak Times Weekender on Sunday, 1 June 2014; also see 'Comedy's Ambe-saddor' by Daniel de Souza in The Goan, 28 September 2013 at http://www.thegoan.net/The-Great-Goan-Weekend/Tiatr/Comedy%E2%80%99s-Ambesaddor/06016.html; pix source; article.wn.com

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