Parrikar gets the stick from tiatrists

PANAJI: Just like in his tiatr, Mariano Fernandes did not name the offender, but the message was loud and clear.

"Freedom of speech and expression is being suppressed by top-level officials who have threatened to shut down my show," Mariano screamed in one advertisement for 'Apunn Apleak Dev Somestank', his latest offering that ran to a packed house.

In his tiatr, Mariano is critical of the state government and its policies, and even though the central character is only referred to as Minister-who holds the education portfolio and wears short-sleeved shirts-the target, unless you are oblivious to what is happening around, is clearly chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

Parrikar gets lambasted all through the tiatr; in most scenes and songs actually. He is called several things, vanshel (bear), Hitler (needs no explanation) and a devil with two large horns, amongst others. But the most cruel blow, as always, is delivered by Francis de Tuem who drags a replica of a two-faced snake on stage, of course with Parrikar's face plastered on it.

Lawry Travasso, one of Goa's topmost singers, also tears into Parrikar insisting, "We know just how much you love the Catholics", while Francis de Tuem declares, "One year after becoming chief minister, Goans know who you are."

In the same song, Francis de Tuem, who has made a name for himself by cutting politicians to size, makes a significant point. "I was the only one who criticized you (in the past)," he sings, as the crowd listens in rapt attention.

The firebrand singer has a point. Last year, most tiatrists were eating out of Parrikar's hand, singing praises and ridiculing the then extremely corrupt government, championed by Digambar Kamat. It's an unspoken truth but Parrikar, to a large extent, rode piggyback on the tiatrists, especially in Catholic-dominated constituencies of South Goa.

Now, as Parrikar gets caught in a web of promises and the cry to save Dabolim only gets louder, the honeymoon seems to be over.

"Parrikar has forgotten everything. We will show him his place (now)," Junior Nelson sang in Constantino Crasto's hit tiatr 'Amchem Chintop Tumchem Xinkop'.

The crowd enjoys the Parrikar bashing and most singers are called back at least twice on stage. If you are Francis de Tuem and lambasting the chief minister, the whistles and applause simply grow louder.

The tiatrists-clearly incensed by Mopa, the recent meat ban, the Vasco schoolgirl rape case, casinos, law and order issues-are making bold predictions as well. Junior Nelson, an influential singer from Vasco, vowed to quit singing if the BJP could bag the South Goa Parliamentary seat in next year's elections. Lawry Travasso claimed the Congress were better and Tony de Ribandar felt it would be difficult for Parrikar to complete his five-year term as chief minister.

Parrikar is not oblivious to the criticism from tiatrists. Last week, he accepted an invitation to attend the Gulab Awards, amongst others, for tiatrists, and left just before a political singer was to take the stage.

Parrikar may well have saved himself the embarrassment but there is still no escaping. Hell hath no fury like a tiatrist scorned!

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