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A voice made for the stage

Caetano Salvador Pereira, popularly known as Cajetan de Sanvordem on the Konkani stage, hails from Khamamoll, Sanvordem. Born on April 5, 1953, Cajetan got the opportunity to render a comedy song in a tiatr presented by late Santan Fernandes in his ward for the annual feast of St Sebastian and it was a hit when he was just 8 years old.

“Thereafter, Santan continued writing and staging his tiatrs annually for the feast of St Sebastian, which happens in the beginning of January and he would always ask me to render a song,” informs Cajetan.

“In another ward, Oddar, one more chapel was dedicated to the same saint, but the feast would be celebrated at the end of the month of January. My father, late Jose Salvador Pereira, grew up in that ward and my cousin, Paul Pereira, would stage his tiatrs for the chapel feast and I’d always have a comedy role in them,” he reveals.

So Cajetan became popular in his village, both as a singer and as a comedian. He was noted as a singer in Khamamoll, whereas in Oddar he was known for comical roles.

When asked about ‘tiatristponn’ running in the family, Cajetan had an interesting tale to relate. He said that his maternal grandfather, Francis Figuieredo, who hailed from Caranzalem and was better known as Ambott (due to a comedy role he had once enacted in a tiatr), would organise ‘zomnivhele khells’ during Carnival festivities.

Cajetan’s primary education was done at Guardian Angel High School in Sanvordem. During the vacations, he would go to Caranzalem and his grandfather, who was a farmer cultivating chillies, sweet potatoes and onions, would take him for tiatrs staged at Dona Paula and neighbouring places. “This routine exercise with my grandfather was probably what helped build my liking for tiatrs and songs,” says Cajetan. When noted tiatrist Anthony San, who is the immediate neighbour of Cajetan in Sanvordem, joined hands with him, it resulted in two productions, namely ‘Afrikar’ and ‘Bhavartachem Kortub’.

“Both those tiatrs were staged in the ward with the help of bedsheets as curtains and wooden benches as the stage,” reveals Cajetan. “Four ‘annas’ were charged from those willing to watch the tiatrs,” he adds.

Next, Jess Fernandes from Quepem penned his non-stop tiatr ‘Kallzache Ghave’ and introduced Cajetan as a hero. “Due to my physique, the director advised me to give up comedy and take up serious roles,” he says.

His first entry on the professional stage came about when Rosario Dias staged one of his tiatrs and Cajetan was asked to join hands with comedian Humbert and enact comic roles on stage. He then appeared in R Moraes’s tiatr, where he was a protagonist alongside noted artistes like Angela from Sanvordem and Teles as a villain featured in the production.

Cajetan also made an entry in Patrick Dourado’s khell tiatrs, when one of his actors, Partin, quit. He acted in khell tiatrs ‘Mira’ and Suknnem’ as a hero with late Christopher Leitao as his costar. “During that period, one director would present two khell tiatrs,” he adds.

“During the Christmas season, we would have a ward-wise play competition of half hour duration, with Anthony San and myself presenting one play and Jose Rod representing another ward with his play,” he reveals. Cajetan would pick up the best actor award annually for this.

“Noted director Remmie Colaco would never act during the Christmas season, but always preferred to spend that festive time with his family,” states Cajetan. “When the assistant parish priest requested him to compere the function, which involved staging of plays from different wards, he obliged and continued the task thereafter for quite some time.”

Being taken up by the local talent on stage, in 1974, on December 25, to be specific, Remmie Colaco announced on stage that he would rope in good talent in his tiatrs. “In 1975, on January 6 for the feast of Epiphany, the director introduced me in one of his tiatrs ‘Bhavponnacho Kaido’ staged at Chandor,” he says.

It was a rare privilege for Cajetan as he got the opportunity to enact the lead role opposite Antonette Mendes and also interacted with noted tiatrists like M Boyer, Jacint Vaz, C Alvares, Betty Ferns and others. “C Alvares was simultaneously the make-up man and at the request of Remmie Colaco, helped me get ready for the rold.”

When Cyril de Benaulim, who served as a mechanic in Sanvordem, approached Cajetan in order to form a duo, he obliged and the two would sing duos in village tiatrs.

When Konknni Bhasha Mandal organised its non-stop tiatr competition, Prem Kumar and late Fr Freddy were the judges for the contest and Cajetan was picked up for the best actor award. “Fr Freddy was still a seminarian at Saligao seminary,” he informs, and when he staged his tiatrs with some of the seminarians, he would rope in Cajetan for singing solos and duos along with Cyril de Benaulim.

In 1976, at the age of 23, Cajetan’s aunt sent him a visa and he made his way to Kuwait. While abroad, when another tiatrist, P Jose de Colva, penned his tiatr ‘Az Mhaka, Faleam Tuka’, he approached him and introduced him in the lead role. Thereafter, Jennifer Rodrigues presented her brother Carmo’s tiatr ‘Somdirant’ and he acted as well as rendered a solo in it.

In 1979, Marcus Vaz, who served in Kuwait earlier, suggested that he, Xavier Gomes and Cajetan should come together to render a trio. “It was highly appreciated and when other directors took an interest, we decided to form a trio in Kuwait.”

Cajetan-Marcus-Xavier came into existence in Kuwait in 1980 and the three continued mesmerising tiatr fans with their songs till 1993. When Xavier retired and returned to Goa in 1993, Mario de Majorda took over and in 1998 when Marcus retired from job, Michael D’Silva was introduced and the trio comprised Cajetan-Michael-Mario.

During that period, when Jose Rod’s tiatr ‘Mauli’ made its Gulf tour, Cajetan de Sanvordem was fortunate to move along with Marcus and Xavier as a trio and their comedy song ‘Sexy Singers’ with Marcus and Xavier dressed as females, became an instant hit.

In 1990, during the Gulf War, the Kuwaiti trio returned to Goa and made their entry in Rosary Ferns’ tiatr ‘Mhojem Dusrem Ghor’, thus making waves with song ‘Sexy Singers’.

During holiday trips to Goa, Cajetan de Sanvordem would never miss opportunities, but would render songs for directors like Mario Menezes, Mini Mario, Fr Freddy, Mariano Fernandes, Sammy Tavares and others. For rendition of trio, he would take Marcus Vaz and Francis de Tuem along with him.

When Mariano Fernandes came out with his monsoon production ‘Amkam Xanti Di’, Cajetan made his appearance along with Marcus Vaz and Xavier Gomes as a trio. In another tiatr, ‘Soglleank Nomoskar’, of the same director, Cajetan has the first opportunity to make a UK tour.

After retiring from his job in Kuwait, Cajetan returned to his roots in Goa in March 2018 and he made his entry on stage in Mariano Fernandes’s tiatr ‘Tujem Bhangar Tujea Angar’, followed by Roseferns’ tiatr ‘Devak Zai Zalear’, Anthony Sylvester tiatr ‘Pedru Portugez’, Elvis-Carmen’s tiatr ‘Maie Mogacho Nomoskar’ and Pal Soares’s tiatr ‘Thank You God’.

Cajetan de Sanvordem enjoys acting and singing and rendering solos composed by him. Apart from political songs, he favours songs based on family issues.

With regard to his children carrying forward the good work on stage, Cajetan informs that in the 1990s he was the first to form ‘Young Trio of Kuwait’ with Jonathan (son of Mario de Majorda), his son Clifford and Terence (Mario’s sister’s son). “It was a tedious task training Jonathan and Terence as they were influenced more by the English language,” he reveals.

With one VCD ‘Xidduk Ravat’ to his credit, when tiatr ‘Xim vo Ximiter’ by Cajetan, Marcus and Xavier was staged, Cajetan’s daughter Clemmie rendered a canto at the tender age of 6. “Today she sings and acts on stage and my son-in-law Shahu Almeida, a noted musician, who organises musical shows in Kuwait and other countries, is a blessing to the family,” he signs off. [H]

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