Celebrities & Goa

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
09 April 2010 23:52 IST

Recently, the Big Daddy of Entertainment (& sometimes politics) Mr. Amitabh Bachchan found himself in the eye of a storm.  Invited for the Bandra-Worli Sealink inauguration, he ruffled Congress feathers and was at the receiving end of a severe Congress stick.

The Big B is my enduring icon, someone I've grown up with, but the Big P (that‘s Mr. Bachchan, the politician) has left me disgusted. Much as he may pretend , he is a consummate politician, one day with brother Mulayam, the next day playing saffron Holi with Modi, the third coloring himself Red  with the Marxists in Kerala.

So, when you play politics and pitch for certain politicians (and not for issues that confront the "aam aadmi ") you will get smeared & rubbished by opposing politicians. Par for the course. You can't hide behind the fig leaf of celebrity hood and escape a political attack. (Though the Congress attack was down right silly).

The same holds true for Shah Rukh Khan who is also quasi political in nature.  (Though the Shiv Sena attack was down right silly)    

We have examples, however, of celebrities using their clout, their extreme visibility and popularity to highlight issues (and not the politicians) that affect our country as a whole.

Foremost among them - the prima donna of passion, conviction and formidable courage is the redoubtable Arundhati  Roy. She could have been just another  N. Y. T bestselling author mouthing platitudes at cocktails dos and high society affairs. She chose the tougher and more arduous path of using her literary skills to articulate the plight of India's disadvantaged, dispossessed and disillusioned millions. We may disagree with her recipes to solve India's ills but can't question her force of conscience.

Then there's Shabana Azmi and Rahul Bose ; Aparna Sen and Nandita Das ; Mahesh Bhatt and Malika Sarabhai.  All using their celebrity status for genuine causes even if it means offending the political establishment.

But it is Goa that remains uniquely blessed by her celebrities.

Recently all Goan Padmashrees Mario Miranda; Remo ; Norma Alvares ; Maria Aurora Couto; Fr Romaldo ; Ravindrabab Kelekar and of course Wendell (though not a Padmashri, a Goa Ratna in my list, for sure ) came out in together in a damning indictment of the excessive , illegal mining horror story engulfing Goa.

That the spineless, conniving Digambar Kamat Government has its head buried like wolves in a mining pit, is a tragic farce played on Goans, of course.

In every revolution of Goa's history, our celebrities have been more than willing (and even proud) to stick their neck out , to make their stand and to fight for the cause.

Remo, the old warhorse, is indefatigable. He's composed music and played his flute ; sang his anthems for us and voiced his opinions. He always stood by the people and asked nothing in return.

Aurora Couto & Norma, two of Goa's most graceful ladies, lobbied in the corridors of power, wrote eloquently and argued passionately all to fight the cause of Goa and asked for nothing in return.

Hema Sardessai has also been in the forefront of all the issues concerning Goa. That she was pilloried and humiliated, all because of her political beliefs, was shameful  to say the least, but she sang and spoke; she argued and articulated all for Goa and asked for nothing in return.

Ravindrabab Kelekar , the doyen of Konkanni literature and Goa's only Dyanpeeth . Even at the ripe old age of nearing 90, ploughs on unfailingly, unceasingly and with a forever twinkle in his eye fighting for the cause of Goa and he too has asked for nothing in return.

And of course, wonderful old Wendell. He's poured money, blood, sweat and tears to stand up for all that is beautiful in Goa. He's even slammed friends and business associates, prepared to take a personal financial hit, all because he staunchly believes that excessive unregulated mining certainly devastates Goa and he's asked for nothing in return.

Many critics of our celebrity stars always allege that they take up social cause for publicity. PUBLICITY ???  My God . These folk are so hugely popular and famous that they DON'T need any further publicity. Thank you very much. In any case, in today's catch- the - eyeballs world of media  hype . You could stand on the Mandovi Bridge, drop your pants off in peak traffic and the whole media would swoop down and you'd be headline news tomorrow.

Their only fault, if any, - as that of most activist friends I know ( and I write this article in front of my bedroom mirror ) is that their oversensitive genes are often in top gear. Any little critique, any perceived slight and they recoil with agonizing hurt and pain.

I can't complete the list of the legion of tiatrists and filmmakers, singers, musicians, poets, sports heroes of Goa who have always rooted for Goa's Cause and helped bring it into the limelight.

And pssst.... Don't tell anyone but there are innumerable " Non- Goans" ( Bhaile) who also pitch in their resources and advocacy talents to highlight the Goa agenda in the highest echelons of power.

You know, I always wonder what this current battle for Goa raging all over is all about ???
It is not about communalism or secularism (All communities clearly identify with the land massacre issue in Goa).

It is not about identity or race or caste or culture (though these are confounding issues)
The central issue that confronts Goa( indeed India ) today is this : The sharing of our natural resources !.

All of us are completely apoplectic and livid because the filthy rich , brazen and corrupt( that include our political class and their financial puppeteers) are rapaciously massacring Goa's resources ( both natural and heritage ) to satiate the never ending greed of the powerful.

The working and poor class, crushed by inflation and depleting resources are clearly marginalized and relegated with begging bowls or BABUSH  T-shirts to the sidelines.

And it is the middle class, otherwise notorious for siding with rich and the elite; who are slowly curling out of their comfortable cocoons to confront this issue head on simply because the writing is clearly on the wall.

If the poor are kicked even further down the food ladder by this crony, cowboy buccaneer form of capitalism that is currently savaging Goa - a civil war or complete fascism will surely descend on us.

And our celebrities have summoned all their fortitude to address these issues , irrespective of the political and personal fallout.

They will always remain my heroes and we'll need to forever remain indebted to them , not because they are electrifying musicians or artists; impeccable authors or poets but because they are such amazingly wonderful Goans!

We'll be grateful because they could have easily chosen NOT TO but they DID !!!-  And helped take the Goa battle straight up to centre stage.

Blogger's Profile

Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

Dear Mr. Anil Desai

Please if you don't mind, can you be precise? Read the whole article again and try to get a clear picture out of it....... just be a professional man, you are in London yaar. It is not clear to me as well like my fellow reader Bab Sanjay P Sawant Desai. May be you were an active member or was a part of the same as i don't know clearly. So may be you have a clear picture of all that farce...... so please let us know so that we also clear our doubts....... Anil Bab, By the way Do YOU Know Why is Dr. Oscar Rebello no more in this Scrap??? I'am not his supporter at the moment but if i hear of Dotor Bab willing to take a Lead for the cause of Goa and Goans, I will definetly support him and i want him to do so as early as possible because Goa is on the path of Wrong Turn and No Return.

- Joe Ganja, Overseas | 22 nd April 2010 14:27


Dear Dr.Oscar,I completely bow down to your writings.Your pen pours out your passion and deep love for Goa! Your writing makes one nostalgic and brings tears in one's eyes specially when you are far away from your beloved Goa.Your writings will even make a dead person stir in his grave with passion and love for Goa! But alas, it does not affect our shameless and conniving politicians!!! Dotor Bab, it's high time you lead us from the front with your surgical hands and save our Goa . May God Almighty bless you and your family abundantly and fill you always with sustaining passion for our beloved GOA.

- P.J.A.SILVEIRA, ST.ESTEVAM-ILHAS-GOA | 17 th April 2010 17:55


whatever Mr Anil Desai is saying is not very clear, i feel he should elaborate more on this issue so that people residing in Goa get more infromation about CM and Rebello

- sanjay p Sawant Dessai, Curchorem Goa | 17 th April 2010 08:17


It would be an interesting statistics to read as to which section of the society votes for which party irrespective of all sorts of criminals and corrupt politicians engaged in doing big scams all the time!

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 16 th April 2010 22:00


I have a simple question for dr Rebello. When did he discover that digambar Kamat government was spineless and conniving? Was it while he was conniving, sorry, playing footsie with Digambar or since the separation?

The farce that is played is not just played by Digambar but also by activists like Rebello who want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to claim to be apolitical while conniving with a political party, i.e. congress.

- Anil Desai, London | 16 th April 2010 15:40


Dear Dr Rebello, You are the only one who has been very Vocal about the problems faced by Goans...You would someday make a good Leader..and i Dont mean corrupt politicos like Digambar and his foolish ministers..It is high time that good person leads the state..Please i would like to contact you

- Abhay Shetye, Vasco | 16 th April 2010 12:33


With indiscriminate public spending, rising per capita debt burden, pouring public funds in own constituency instead of balanced development, mining activities going unabated-destroying the ecology and environments, builder lobby making huge disproportionate profits-selling Goa all over the Globe, the cancer of corruption spreading into the vitals of every system, the criminals and drug peddlers taking over the beaches and the young generation falling prey in their net.....is totally disgusting! It is time people with clean images jump into the politics to stem the rot! But putting up fight against the established crooks with huge hidden wealth looks disheartening! What is the way out?

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 15 th April 2010 07:47


Dear Dr.Oscar, you are our Celebrity, whatever people my say or comment, now time has come for you to lead from the front. people of Goa have tons of expectations from you.

- Sanjay p Sawant Dessai, Curchorem goa | 10 th April 2010 08:09


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