The Khell Tiatr (Traditional Folk Plays)
For many of us Carnival may just be watching and enjoying parades of colorful floats in Panjim, Margao, Vasco and Mapusa. But wait a minute, for many who do not know the rural and suburban parts of Goa especially in South Goa people celebrate carnival with much more enthusiasm by hosting ‘Khell Tiarts’. Khell Tiarts (folk plays) tradition is kept alive by renowned Khell tiartists who are based in South Goa. “Khell”, a form of street play is held at every ward, every village and every town in Margao, Quepem, Maina, Velim, Navelim, Dramapur and others.
In the olden days when there were no theatres and televisions, entertainment to the Goan masses was provided by folk dramatic forms such as Zagor and Khell. Khell also known as Fell in South Goa was and is very popular.
In the year 2015, I was fortunate enough to be a part of Khell Tiarts representing Xavier de Maina troupe, which won 1st place at All Goa Khell Competition 2015 organized by Tiatr Academy of Goa. The Khell is normally a story told through vocals- Kants (songs that consists one chorus and one verse) accompanied by music played by the band. Khell is made up of three different parti (three different folk plays) that are performed back to back that may or may not have resemblance to real life events but are made entertaining with humor and jokes.
Of late the Carnival Khell’s have become quite competitive wherein different troupes aim to have the best of costumes, best of musicians and good performers for the enjoyment of the audience. Even though the commercial and competition tiatrs at Kala Academy, Panjim and Ravindra Bhavan, Margao attract thousands of people to buy tickets and watch them, the Khell which was documented to be first staged in 1659 still remains the favourite of the people during Carnival. As an encouragement the Tiatr Academy of Goa organizes ‘All Goa Khell Competition’ every year giving a competitive stage and keeping the legacy of Khell Tiatrs on. This year the Khell Tiarts will be held from February 25 to 28.
Here is wishing all the Goenkar’s Viva Carnival!
By Pauline D’Mello