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Purnanand Chari – From his fortress in Canacona, his mission is Konkani

Though always the bright kid in his class, Purnanand Chari was a regular guy until he entered his 20s. When he reached there, after acting and singing in Konkani nataks for years, something struck Chari — Konkani songs were devoid of the rhythm of the land, and were always imitating music trends elsewhere.

It isn’t easy to describe what Chari achieved as a result of this realization. For one, most recently, the troupe he formed, ‘Bhangarallem Goem’, was one among many Konkani music bands that helped break a world record of playing music for 36 hours straight. Chari helped make the challenge tougher to break by three hours, in an effort organized by Kalangan in Mangaluru.

But there was more ‘Bhangarallem Goem’ had to its credit. It was arguably the first troupe to be an assimilation of all types of Konkani music into one — cantar, folk, and that leaning heavily towards Indian classical.

“If a cantar is played, few Hindus hear it. If Indian classical music is played, no Catholics are interested. So we blended both. Our group was made up of 40 artistes, including folk dancers and singers of the traditional and modern varieties of music,” says Chari. The reception received by the group is apparent from the fact that it completed 125 shows performed across Goa, Mumbai, Kerala and Mangaluru. It is this group which could take at least part of the credit for catapulting the celebrated singer Sonia Shirsat to fame.

But ‘Bhangarallem Goem’ was formed in 2003. Chari had by then already taken many leaps for Konkani.

He first introduced Goa’s folk beats to the words of poets like Manoharrai Sardessai in the mid-80s, with the formation of the troupe ‘Udenteche Vangdi’ in his native Bicholim.

“The use of our ghumat was restricted to accompaniment to aartis sung in Konkani homes. I wanted to change that,” said Chari.

It was during the Konkani agitation of 1986 that Chari’s own poetry, in his own words, received the ‘vitamin’ of appreciation from noted writers like Pundalik Naik and Ramesh Veluskar, besides Sardessai himself.

From there, there was no looking back for Chari, who bagged at least 15 awards for the best script at state-level Konkani drama competitions. He took his plays to the audience through All India Radio and Doordarshan, published his collection of Konkani poems ‘Chingar’, had his play, ‘Srujan’, included in a Sahitya Akademi publication, and presented papers on Goa’s folk art and culture to national seminars.

What helped him rally for Konkani across Goa were circumstances. Chari was first sent from Bicholim to study at his maternal uncle’s home Panaji. He later graduated from PES in Farmagudi and moved to Panaji again to complete his post-graduation from Goa University – both degrees, not surprisingly, in Konkani.

“I was lucky to be surrounded by musicians and actors in the family and be blessed with appreciative teachers in school,” says Chari.

Chari now lives in Goa’s southernmost end of Canacona, where he is a Konkani teacher at Shree Mallikarjun College of Arts and Commerce. His wife Rupa teaches Hindi at the same institute. It is hardly surprising that Rupa is an artiste herself, while daughter Manasi, a postgraduate, is a Konkani writer and critic. His son Maurya a Class VIII student, is already more than comfortable juggling between the drums and tabla.

As for Chari himself, when he is not attending to his duties at home and at work, he is busy singing Konkani duets with Anuradha Paudwal and making Shaan sing to his tunes for music albums and acting in Konkani films like the remake of ‘Nirmonn’, ‘Paltadcho Munis’ and ‘Gunaji’.

His most recent mission was yet another first.

“Most abhangs and bhajans sung in temples in Goa are not in Konkani (and are in Marathi). So I decided to compose Konkani abhangs and bhajans, then trained troupes in them, and then held competitions to encourage their singing. This competition has now been taken over by Ravindra Bhavan in Margao. I have made sure to add devotional songs praising Goa-specific deities like Shree Ranganath and Shree Shantadurga. Today, these songs are sung even in Mangalore,” said Chari.

Ask him what’s next on his mind, and Chari, of course, is not without an answer. “The film ‘Tiatrist’ has its story, screenplay and dialogues written by me.” [TOI] [image-google]