Drawn to tiatr for the love of Konkani
Ester Noronha from Mangalore is an established film actor who can speak in seven languages and has worked in Hindi and regional cinema. After performing in several Konkani live shows, she recently made her debut on the tiatr stage. Café catches up with Ester to talk about Konkani and her contribution towards the language through cinema
While most actors start off with theatre before venturing into cinema, Ester Noronha starred in several Indian films before being drawn towards tiatr. Ester found her way back to her Konkani roots by singing on the Konkani stage. A noted singer, dancer, performer and film actress in Konkani, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada languages, Ester is currently working in several film projects. However, she has also reserved her dates for Mariano Fernandes’s tiatr, ‘Goem, Goenkar, Goenkarponn’ in which she is singing three Konkani songs. Currently, wrapping up a shoot in Hyderabad, she is waiting to come back to Goa for the next tiatr shows.
“I came down from Bahrain when I was a child and since then I have been in India. I completed my Masters in Political Science in Mumbai and I used to speak to my mother, Janet, in our mother tongue,Konkani, every day. As Mumbai receives students from different parts of the country, many of my classmates didn’t even understand what language I was speaking and that’s when I realised that we take our language for granted or feel pressured to speak in other languages and ignore our mother tongue. Once we are out of our home state, we will speak in English or Hindi, while people from other states are proud of their culture and openly speak in their languages,” says Ester.
Growing up in Mangalore, Ester was not new to the music stage.As a teenager, she would be present for major Konkani musical shows. However, what broke her heart when she returned to Mangalore after a few years was the decline in musical shows as youngsters had lost interest. “We should not be ashamed of Konkani as it helps us establish our identity. As bigger languages started coming into the state, the youngsters were lured to watch films in Hindi or English in the cinemas instead of attending shows in Konkani. I was constantly singing in Konkani on the stage and I loved live performances. It would be mostly people from my parents’ or grandparents’ generation who attended them. We had to do something to attract youngsters to the language,” says Ester.
Her first brush with cinema was when she sang ‘Meu Amor’ in the Konkani movie ‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’. “I didn’t know that the film would be such a big success. I was then offered a role in the Manglorean Konkani film, ‘Nosibacho Khell’, directed by Harry Fernandes. Since I had acted in different films in Mumbai and other parts of the country, I had come across various actors, technicians, light men, choreographers, musicians who had roots in Konkani and were working in these cinemas. It would be very progressive if we could make them come back to Konkani and contribute even ten per cent of what they are doing in their work, for Konkani. My mother shared the same idea and we set up Janet Productions, which produced the film 'Sophia', where we used Goan and Manglorean Konkani in the script so that it was easily identifiable by both the speakers,” explains Ester.
“I met Mariano Fernandes, who introduced me to tiatr and told me about the songs in his tiatr, ‘Goem, Goenkar, Goenkarponn’. I didn’t get an opportunity to see other tiatrs, but I have been told by many, that this tiatr is different. Hopefully, I will move on to play a role very soon in some tiatrs,” says Ester about her part in the world of tiatr.
Ester is also making her singing debut in Kannada for the film ‘Atiratha’. She recently starred in a Telugu film, ‘Jaya Janaki Nayaka’, and Kannada film ‘Nuggekayi’. “I would love to act in a Konkani film in Goa and I am getting many scripts. However, I don’t want to act in something created by amateurs. It has to be a really good script with great quality,” concludes Ester.
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