PAGE 03: The Pioneer

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The Contours of Loss

By Damodar Mauzo

In early 2020, the Coronavirus shattered the world with its giant spate, and then soon, it shuttered the cinema halls, entertainment theatres, and cultural events. We have lost talented writers, artists, musicians, actors, comedians, and other stars to the global pandemic.

Amongst the global death tally are many celebrity filmmakers who. Kim Ki-Duk, the veteran South Korean filmmaker, who participated in the 43rd IFFI edition, died just a month ago. Jay Benedict, an actor with more than 100 film and TV, and credits to his name, died last April due to COVID-19. The illustrious singer and guitarist, Charley Pride, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museumin 2000 did live to see the glorious moment in his life when he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Country Music Association. But he did not live further; a month back Covid-19 snatched him away. 

In India itself, the virus has taken a toll of over 150,000 so far. We have lost the veteran poets Mangalesh Dabral and Sugathakumari, the popular playback singer S P Balasubramaniam, veteran Bollywood producer Amit Suri, and eminent actor Soumitra Chatterjee.

The smallest state in the Indian union has suffered as well. Goa’s renowned fashion designer Wendell Rodricks died in February 2020, and though he did not succumb to the deadly virus, the loss was colossal. Just as we were coping with that grief, Covid-19 claimed the much-loved son of the soil, Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardozo, who died at 59, in New York.

Floyd’s memorable visit to Goa in 2013 was at the Goa Art and Literature Festival. He was very happy to participate as he discussed Life in Food. Like a host of Goans, he went to the USA in search of greener pastures. Proud and confident of his culinary talents, he opened his first restaurant in 1997. His love for Goa and Goan cuisine was evident from the way he designed the façade and the interiors of the restaurant. Tabla immediately earned him three stars from the New York Times. In 2011, Cardoz won the Season 3 of Bravo’s hit show contest, Top Chef Masters. Upon his death, Padma Laxmi wrote, “He had an impish smile, an innate need to make those around him happy, and a delicious touch. This is a huge loss, not only for the professional food world but for Indians everywhere.” Floyd, who promised us to come back to the Goa Litfest, is lost to us forever.

Goa has also lost our own veteran film personality, Ashalata Wabgaonkar. Born in Palolem as Ashalata Nadkarni, she acted in over 100 Marathi, Hindi and Konkani films. Though she began her career as a singer and stage artist, her career got a boost when Basu Chatterjee offered her a role in his Hindi film Apne Paraye (1980) for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Filmfare Award. She loved to work in Konkani films. 

Ashalata sung some memorable songs in Konkani, like Vaat sopum, Raat aas, Kazarachem utor tukaa dilam and Mogaan pishem zalaam khoshi penned by the lyricist Uday Bhembre.She had a flair for writing too. She wrote plays in her early years and now has a book of memoirs to her credit. She was in Satara shooting for a Marathi TV serial, Maazhi Aai Kalubai, when she was found infected with Coronavirus. She did not respond to the treatment and was on a ventilator before she succumbed to the virus.  What a sad end to a brilliant career!

I have taken a sample stock of the losses we suffered. Now let us look forward to a new-normal where we can experience new ways of being creative. Long Live Cinema!

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