Mangaluru: The ‘Moinyali Manchi’ is a monthly theatre programme organised by Mandd Sobhann, a leading Konkani cultural organisation born to preserve, promote, propagate and enrich the Konkani language and culture and to ensure the transmission of the unique Konkani heritage to the future generations. On August 5, the organisation will be celebrating the 200th episode of the ‘Moinyali Manchi’, titled “Aputt”, at the Kalaangann, and it is all set to be a momentous occasion for the Konkani crowd.
With the objective of encouraging and promoting Konkani art and artistes, Mandd Sobhann (meaning ‘beautiful stage’) began conducting the monthly theatre starting on January 6, 2002. The Mandd Sobhann was lead by the visionaries, Eric Ozario and Louis J Pinto, who wanted to keep the Konkani culture and art alive. The Kalaangann, a sort of cluster of auditoriums, was soon built at Shakthinagar to provide a platform to the various Konkani artistes, who would display their art before eager audiences.
It has been more than 16 years since the ‘Moinyali Manchi’ began, and it has been conducted on the first Sunday of every month non-stop at the Kalaangann. As one can imagine, it is not an easy task to maintain this continuity for so many years. It is truly a credit to the Mandd Sobhann and its dedicated members and a great source of pride for Konkanis all over.
NewsKarnataka got in touch with Eric Ozario and asked him what led to the formation of the Mandd Sobhann. “‘Mandd Sobhann’ means ‘beautiful stage’ and it began as an experiment in Konkani music on November 30, 1986. We noticed that in many Konkani songs, while the lyrics were in Konkani, the style of music and the instruments were either western or Indian Classical. So, we thought that there should be a “Konkani world” between these two, the konkani lyrics and the music. The experiments were conducted to find and create that a unique style for Konkani music. We drew inspiration from sources such as Konkani folk music,” he said, adding that over the last 32 years, they had conducted 33 such experiments. “Over time, ‘Mandd Sobhann’ became the name of the organisation that was conducting these musical experiments,” he informed.
When asked how the journey had been so far, Ozario said that although it was tedious and painful, it was well worth it as they were able to continue conducting the monthly shows for 16 years and 8 months without a break. “It is a great source of pride for us to have been conducting these monthly shows for so long as we do not have any foreign funding or help from the government. It is us and the public that are working to sustain and promote Konkani art forms,” he said and added that for now, they rely on the contributions given by the public to help with the expenses.
The “Moinyali Manchi” programmes are always held at 6.30 pm and go on for two hours, during which the audiences are enthralled with music, dance, drama and various other art forms. It is only during special occasions that performances exceed the normal run-time of two hours. Konkani artistes and performers come from all over the world to perform for their admiring audience. Each of the performances is carefully planned and practised to perfection well beforehand. For their efforts, each performer is paid an honorarium and travelling allowance.
Each show sees a team of about 20 to 25 artistes perform at the Kalaangan every month and, depending on the venue being used, there are on average, 200 to 500 people who come to witness the show. “Not everyone will like all of the art forms. People only come to see the art forms that they like. Some like theatre, some like Yakshagana. But, it is our duty to support and display every form of Konkani art form there is, as our motto is to provide a stage to encourage Konkani art and artistes,” Ozario said.
In the earlier days of the “Moinyali Manchi”, an entrance fee of Rs 30 and Rs 100 was charged. The entrance fees were slowly phased out and the organisers moved to a system of voluntary contribution to supplement their funds. Now, each programme costs an average of Rs 55,000 and the donations come up to less than Rs 5,000. Though the “Moinyali Manchi” has been running under a loss for the last 16 years, the Mandd Sobhann keeps on conducting these theatrical shows as they are not concerned about the money but, the continued existence and growth of the Konkani art and culture.
The Mandd Sobhann faced a lot of difficulties when they initially started organising the monthly shows. The people visiting the Kalaangann to watch the shows were few in number and there was the problem of transportation as the Kalaangann is located on the outskirts of the city, which makes it a little difficult to access. But, through it all, the Mandd Sobhann was determined and managed to maintain the continuity of the show for close to two decades.
In the past, artistes from the Siddi, Kudmi, Kharvi, Daldi, GSB, Saraswath, Gawde and Catholic communities from Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa and foreign countries have presented their craft here. Artistes of small groups from other villages have also performed on here along with groups from the city.
Asked what the future held for Mandd Sobhann and the “Moinyali Manchi”, Ozario said that the two would continue to exist, although they would need to look for sources to be able to continue to sustain the monthly shows. “We have been giving awards in six different categories to Konkani artistes of all communities for the last nine years. This year, for the first time, we have introduced the Konkani Cine Awards, for Konkani cinema of any dialect, community and region. We are also conducting two seminars on August 26, one of the seminars will be dealing with intellectual property rights for Konkani works for which we are bringing an advocate from Bengaluru, who is an expert in the field,” he informed.
The 200th show, titled “Aputt” which means ‘pure’ in Konkani, will have songs penned by various Konkani poets and tunes composed by Eric Ozario. A huge pandal has been erected at the Kalaangann maidan to accommodate as many people as possible (over 1000 people are expected to be in attendance) and the artistes are already preparing for this day with great fervour.
For this mega event, the Deputy Speaker of the Goan Assembly, Michael Lobo, will be the Chief Guest and the musical programme is being sponsored by the ‘Friends of Lawry’. The event will be free for the public. The programme will feature the talents of singers like Eric Ozario, Joyce, Shilpa, Prajoth, Robin Sequeira, Adolf, Jacqueline Fernandes, Prakash, Zeena, Nihal, Sonal, Jason, Dealle and the kid duo, Gia and Aman.
Talented artistes such as Butto (flute), Manoj (violin), Cajetan (keyboard), Alwyn (guitar), Deepakraj Ullal (tabla), Jerome (bass) and Sachin (percussions) will also perform at the gala event.