What’s the connection between these three?
Simmba – Rohit Shetty’s lively and fast-paced new Bollywood release. Set in Goa. A special place for me. A place where I grew up and lived in, for 23 best years of my life.
That’s the connection!
It’s really strange how a little event, incident or story can trigger off memories of long back. This movie did just that.
It may be 25 years since my dad Dr N G K Sharma moved back to his home town in Udupi, with baggage, bucket and brat (that’s me), after serving for 23 years as a Senior Doctor at Goa Medical Hospital and College, but for me it feels like just yesterday!
Initially unaware that the movie was set in Goa, the fact flowed over me as a warm and pleasant surprise as I sat in the theater to watch it. A few reels into the movie when the story shifts to Goa and the screen fills up with the magnificent image of the Church of Immaculate Conception, a strong wave of nostalgia hits me and I am transported back to my school days.
The 477 year old Church, sits atop a wee little hillock in the heart of the Capital city and I would walk by it every day on my way to school and back. As I trudged along from my home in Junta House on 18th June Road and turned a bend in the road, that pristine white structure would loom up ahead indicating that we had reached the half-way mark to school.
When the name Miramar flashes on the screen, I am transported back to my College days. The College is bang opposite the Miramar beach, believe it or not! From our classroom windows we could see the sandy shores, hear the sound of waves and smell the salty sea air. I am reminded of the many occasions when we bunked lectures – to walk along the sea shore on our bare feet or to simply eat Bhel on the beach square; or the few occasions when an enterprising teacher like our beloved English Professor Ms Isabel Vaz would herd the class out onto the beach for an outdoor class session. We would discuss Shakespeare and Wordsworth under the shade of the trees with the gentle sea breeze fanning our cheeks and ruffling our hair.
When the camera rolls over quaint Goan villages – roof topped houses with latticed windows and potted plants all around the verandah, I am transported back to those days in calm, safe, peace-loving Goa, where we had (and still have) warm relations with friends among the Catholics and the Hindus. All year round it would be Easter and Christmas with the former and Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi with the latter.
Since we left the place, I’ve gone back only a few times on very short visits and I notice the obvious changes, which happen with every growing city. In the wild race to put its name on the World tourist map, old-world values and charm have been compromised and I am sad when the State makes headlines for the wrong reasons.
Goa, however, is not all what is portrayed in sleazy tourist brochures. There’s more to this tiny state than just “Sun, Sand and Siesta!”
Which brings me back to Simmba (where it all started anyway!) But what really started it off?? I don’t really know. There were several other movies also set in Goa. Then why did this one affect me so? Could it be because the usual stereotypes are absent – the loud female characters with short skirts and a wierd accent; and the male characters tottering around with a pot belly and a Feni bottle in hand – all of which make me cringe?? Could it be because Goa has not been presented in the usual unimaginative Beach, Booze and Babes style??
Certainly the State and its people have been handled with more delicacy and respect than in most of the other films and I am pleased about it because – you see, even 25 years after leaving that place, it still lives on in a large part of my heart! 🙂
Cheers! Minus the Feni 😉
NOTE – This is not in any way a review of the film !! 🙂