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Comical and nostalgic, Tiatr’s greats get caricatured

To mark 125 years of tiatr, the 125th Anniversary of Tiatr Celebrations Committee, Kala Academy Goa and Tiatr Academy of Goa is hosting an exhibition, ‘Caricatures of 100 Great Tiatrists’ by cartoonist Alexyz on April 16 and April 17. NT BUZZ spoke to the artist to find out more about the exhibition

Janice Savina Rodrigues |NT BUZZ

Kid boxer, Jacint Vaz, M Boyer, H Britton and many others make it to a caricature exhibition! And they are all set to entertain through their amusing portraits, with tongue-in-cheek humour. As the adage goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ and a caricature adds a lot more to that number, given that it brings out not only what a person looks like, but the artists also try and dig deep into the traits and other information on the personality that they are drawing up. One of Goa’s best known caricature artists or ‘cartoonists’ as they are very colloquially called, is Alexyz. His art is seen as something that can tickle your funny bone and give you messages or worthy information that very few artists can boast about.

After having exhibitions around the world and conjuring up caricatures of practically every type of person, Alexyz has turned his keen eye to the tiatr world. As we know, the highly popular genre of dramatics is in its 125th year of existence, the artist decided to collaborate with Tiatr Academy of Goa to host an exhibition of caricatures of iconic tiatr personalities all through the years.

“When I heard that there was a committee formed for the celebration of the 125 years of tiatr, I was excited because tiatr is a phenomenon not only restricted to Goa or India, but is popular globally,” says the cartoonist. The world of the tiatr is truly a fascinating one and it’s not only what was happening on the stage that enticed Alexyz but the entire functioning of the industry. He considers works of these tiatrists “absolutely amazing”. The fact that there are people who work in tiatr and are all-in one – actor, writer, singer, composer and director, does not fail to inspire and amaze people. “You don’t find this in any other art form, it is more like a full-fledged industry with about three or four tiatrs releasing every month. You don’t see this happening, in India or even abroad, even in Broadway if you go to see there is a show or two every two or three months, but here it is happening almost every other day!” he exclaims, adding that the tiatr genre has enough to secure a place for itself in the Guinness Book of World Records.

He has brought the greats of the tiatr world, especially those who have passed on, back to life through his caricatures. Be it the prominent Fr Freddie who wrote the revolutionary ‘Utt Goyenkara’, urging the people to wake up to what was happening around them; or the controversial Kid Boxer who was in and out of jail for his hard-hitting songs, depicting the artiste singing behind bars; or the caricature of tiatr’s most loved clown Jacint Vaz, who is depicted as Charlie Chaplin; all these are impeccably illustrative of the traits of these versatile artistes.

There is one very interesting caricature of a ‘Miss Julie’ who was in reality a man. “In the earlier days women refrained from stepping onto the stage. There was Rozinha Fernandes, Pai tiatrist’s wife, but that was a one-off thing. Miss Julie was a man from Candolim who dressed up as woman and his portrait tells of one incident of when dressed as a woman, he was followed by a group of Portuguese soldiers who began teasing ‘her’ and when they reached the tiatr stage, they tried to grab hold him, and he slapped one of them causing them to realise it was indeed a man,” says Alexyz.

For people viewing this exhibition it will be more like going for a tiatr; the older generation who has seen some of these stalwarts in action are sure to get nostalgic. “The current generation has not seen them in action and I wanted them to know what these artistes were like,” says Alexyz. The tiatr personalities are indeed in the midst of performance in the caricatures, because he has not just profiled their faces but has drawn them in character.

It wasn’t an easy feat for the cartoonist to draw up the portraits of all these artistes, “It took me nine months to complete this series, as it involved a lot of research. The younger tiatrists were easier to draw but the older ones were a challenge. Even the pictures that I found were old and blurry, I read up about what they were like, spoke to people who told me little anecdotes of what happened and I tried to incorporate all this here. I look at this as a kind of documentary; otherwise these people are all lost and forgotten,” says Alexyz.

The exhibition is in association with TAG and the 125th Anniversary of Tiatr Celebrations Committee will be releasing a book which will have these caricatures in it. “The book titled ‘Caricatures of 100 Great Tiatrists’ is an extension of the exhibition. It will have all the caricatures and added information,” says Alexyz.

Alexyz stresses that the tiatr form of art needs to be given more importance than what it gets now. “People are not really aware of the significance of a tiatr now. They just go, watch it and come back home. I am a sociology student and from a sociologist point of view it is very interesting to see how this form of drama has grown and survived. And with the youngsters joining in, it seems even more interesting. It shows that tiatr has a bright and long future ahead,” he concludes.

(The Caricatures of 100 Great Tiatrists by Alexyz will be inaugurated by senior tiatr artist Titta Preto, and gynaecologist and tiatr follower, Sidney Pinto do Rosario and Kala Academy member secretary, Gurudas Pilernekar at Kala Academy Black Box at 4.30 p.m. on Monday April 16. The exhibition will remain open for public viewing till Tuesday April 17.)


For the details of the other events associated with the celebration of the Tiatr Day celebrations, turn to Page 7.


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