BY MATHEW ALMEIDA
Culture, language and land have a great influence on our identity. It defines who we are and gives us a sense of belonging.
Osmitay is one such movie, which aims to appeal to the Konkani-speaking people to discover the roots of their history, value its immense richness and preserve it for posterity.
Osmitay was released in Mangalore in September and now in Goa on October 20 at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao.
It will be premiered at Inox multiplex in Margao and Panjim from October 27. Directed by Vilas Ratnakar Kshatriya and produced by Louis J Pinto under Mandd Sobhann productions, it has Ashwin, Wencita, Nellu and Harry as lead actors who have delivered impressive performances.
Saiesh Panandikar, who plays Laxman Pai, is sure to melt many hearts, while Prince Jacob will surely awaken the pride for Konkani within all who watch it. Even though most of the team is new, the outcome has been splendid.
While the movie is well presented, researchers from Goa and Mangalore have questioned the historical aspects projected in the movie. Goa’s well known researcher and intellectual Rev Dr Victor Ferrao highlighted the one-cause theory that this movie proposes in regard to the origin of Konkani and the migration of Konknne or Goans.
According to the writers of the movie, Konkani is said to have originated from the Saraswat Brahmins. Dr Ferrao points out that this is injustice to the SC/ST communities of Goa who too speak Konkani and it may have originated from these tribes. No one is certain how Konkani originated but to fall for single cause or origin of Konkani is dangerous.
The other error which he highlights is that the migration of Goans or Konknne at large is claimed to be solely due to the Goa inquisition.
According to K M Pannikar in his book 'A History of Kerala 1498-1801' the 'Konkanis' formed flourishing communities in Kerala along with Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Jews even before the arrival of the Portuguese.
Fr Jason Pinto (SDB) a Mangalore-based Catholic priest and researcher, wrote in his review about the movie Osmitay that "the Mangalorean upper caste Catholics, in line with their Konkani upper caste brethren, have always preferred the colonisation-conversion-destruction-migration narrative and this movie is pictorial representation of the same."
He also wrote as to how the writers of the movie have given into traditional oral narrative of events and not evidence-based research methodology.
Dr Pandurang Pissurlencar, who worked for the Goa archives, in his books, 'Portuguese Maratha Relations' and 'Agentes da Diplomacia Portuguesa Na India-Hindus, Muculmanos, Judeus E Parses,' offers us a glimpse into the characteristic trait of the upper caste groups, who irrespective of their religious affiliations, always aligned with the dominant powers.
Since the movie relates the migration of Konknnes to the Goa inquisition and also depicts that Hindus were burnt at stake for being unwilling to convert and give up their culture, it also demands clarification of these claims.
The Goa Inquisition began in 1560. Alan Machado (Prabhu), the author of the books, Slaves of Sultans and Goa’s Inquisition: facts-fiction-factoids, speaking to GT Digital categorically said that there are 3444 records from the years 1561 to 1623 and 8250 records from the years 1640 to 1806 of those tried under the inquisition.
There are around 225 cases among these who were executed and burnt at stake but none of these cases contain any case of a Hindu.
The subjects of the inquisition were newly-converted Christians who were tried for heretical acts. It is an injustice to the Goan Catholics who actually suffered under the inquisition. Conversions may have happened for various reasons.
The film has gained much love from Konkani-speaking folk across the world and yet given the recent communal strain in Goa, what effect it could have is yet to be ascertained.