H. Britton Will Live On Forever
Konkani Tiatr stage is passing through a critical phase. Few months
back a stalwart of Konkani stage M. Boyer and another tiatr
personality, Lucas Fernandes, bid adieu to all tiatr lovers. Within a
very short span of time, yet another multi-talented personality of the
tiatr stage, H. Britton passed away on 24th September 2009. H.
Britton’s contribution to Konkani stage is not only immense but unique
too. I consider his contribution unique because his acting as a female
character kept the Konkani tiatr stage alive when female artistes were
reluctant to act on the Tiatr stage.
H. Britton’s real name was Hermegildo Camilo. In fact I saw him on the
Tiatr stage during the yearly tiatr staged by the villagers of Britona
on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Penha de France, in the
late 1960s. If I am not mistaken, young, handsome and energetic
Hermegildo had come down from Bombay to Goa for the village feast.
This was clear from the announcement that had been made informing the
tiatr audience that Hermegildo would sing two songs. Over 600
audience plus was eager to listen and see Hermegildo in action on the
stage. Everyone in the audience was very happy. Continuous whistling
by the boys from behind filled the atmosphere. I was surprised at the
behaviour of the audience after Hermegildo’s name was announced. I
realized that Hermegildo was very popular among the villagers. I was
also informed that Hermegildo was acting in the tiatr after a gap of
four years. Naturally people were anxious to see the acting of their
most talented young artiste from the village at that time.
At last Hermegildo came on the stage with his inimitable style and
rendered a song which sent the whole audience into pills of laughter.
He was called again and again by the audience. But the best in
Hermegildo was yet to come. The second song rendered by Hermegildo was
excellent. He dressed as a girl and rendered the song in his unique
style. His attire, his body movements, his actions and facial
expressions mesmerized the audience. He was a perfect young lady
criticizing the boys in her song. Although he criticized boys in that
song, the boys in the audience could not resist in whistling more and
more to bring him back on the stage again and again. He was the
darling of the villagers of Britona at that time and hence they
called him Hermegildo and not H Briton although he had become a very
prominent artiste in that name on the tiatr stage in Bombay at that
H. Britton’s singing, dancing and acting as a female character has no
parallel in the history of Tiatr. He dominated the Tiatr stage as a
female artiste for a long time although he had to go abroad in between
for better prospects. After returning back he again embraced his first
love – the tiatr. Besides being a very good singer and actor, he was a
superb lyricist too. His composition was not only rich in content but
also full of wit and humour. He must have composed over 700 songs
besides singing thousands of songs with other tiatr artistes including
M. Boyer, Jacinto Vaz, and others.
He wrote and directed full length tiatrs too. His first tiatr was
“Ekvottachem Foll” which was a hit. Some of his popular tiatrs which
have won the hearts of the people were: “Custom Officer”, “Jivit
Kuwaitchem”, “Bebdo Put”, “Bunhad Naslolem Ghor”, etc. However, as a
singer, he has captured the hearts of the people. He has many albums
to his credit. His songs namely ‘’Bandra Fest’ and ‘Pandu Lapiao’ has
become a part and parcel of our cultural heritage.
As a female artiste of the tiatr stage he was responsible to keep the
flag of Konkani Tiatr flying high when there was scarcity of girls to
act in Tiatrs. He filled that vacuum then and saw that Tiatr not only
lives but lives as a vibrant dramatic form of Goa.
(This Article was published by Times of India (Goa) dated 26th September, 2009)
As forwarded by the author to www.goa-world.com