Not many of you will remember this, but once upon a time there existed pocket sized Konkani romance novels called ‘romaans’.
History of Konkani literature in Goa would be incomplete without this term. Housewives of sailors on board ships would relish these mini-sagas of love and betrayal, and then pass them on to other eager awaiting readers. Whereas the homesick sailors, who are far away from Goa would read out stories from these pocket novellas to their colleagues huddled around, anxious to get home.
It is difficult to define the term precisely; however these books were written in Roman script mostly by Roman Catholic (although there were popular Hindu writers) and had the genre of romance. They were extremely popular in the 1900s till post liberation of Goa 1961.
These pocket sized books revolved around adventure, love, mystery and betrayal. One of the most popular was “ Kiristanv Ghorabo“by Eduardo Bruno de Souza, who incorporated Goan society realistically but in an idealistic purpose in 1911. Second romaan to remember was Nirmonn, by Menino Jess Fernandes of Quepem describing the influence of western lore. The cover has a damsel tied to a tree with tribal folk dancing around, and the gun-toting hero about to rescue her.
Patriarch of Romances
The most prolific writer of Konkani romances was Reginald Fernandes, who earned the title ‘Romansincho Paxai’ (Patriarch of Romances). His works include such marvellous titles as Chorancho Chor (Thief of Thieves), Gupit Soiro (Secret Relation), Mea Culpa (My Fault), Ordem Cazar (Half a Marriage) to name some.
Not all authors were Catholic
These popular romaans were not restricted to Catholic authors alone. Ramacanta Poulencar wrote ‘Donaldo ani Lucinda’ and Prabhakar Tendulkar also authored many stories. These novels sold at 6-10 annas during that time (1 rupee was 16 annas). This was one of the only sources of entertainment during that time and the pricing was decent.
Riddles an Advertisements
These books didn’t only tell tales, but revealed other types of information that could prove beneficial to the reader or simply engage them in several other activities. For instance, some books featured advertisements typically placed at the back of the book containing information about flower shops, events and feast; others like Patoc ani Crim (Sin and Crime) had riddles on the first page which promised a prize.
Inspiring the first Konkani Movie
The first Konkani movie, ‘Mogacho Aunddo’ (Love’s Craving) was an adaptation from the romaan Mogachi Vhodd’ written by Dioginho d’Mello, the movie was released on April 24 1950. These novels have created an impression on several minds. I hope this article brings back cherished memories of all you romaan readers out there.
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