‘Sweet sixty’: Francis Fernandes Cascia rolls past 60 years
A special article on ‘Kala Shree’, ‘Konkani Waag’, ‘Nat Samrat’ Francis Fernandes Cascia.
By Dinesh Correa, Pernal
Dubai, July 12: Francis Fernandes Cascia turns sixty this 14th of July. One wonders if Francis Fernandes Cascia is really sixty. He never looks so. It is only while looking at his achievements that one can realize his age. For Francis, turning sixty marks a new beginning.
Francis Fernandes has seen an era that has seen tremendous progress in Konkani stage. Most of these revolutions are made by none other than Francis. Having written, acted in and directed more than thirty-two plays, he could obviously be termed as the most successful person on Konkani stage arena. He has created records that cannot be broken unless by himself. He has rendered such great contributions that no one else can surpass. He has set his own standards. Francis is a living legend.
Francis is indeed a trendsetter in Konkani drama world. The first ever Konkani play was staged by Francis in Dubai way back in 1978. Abu Dhabi witnessed Francis’ play in 1986. And now, a new line will be appended to the Konkani history book, when Sharjah will host ‘Motlobi Sounsar’ as the first ever Konkani drama in its soil, in the month of September 2004.
The sixtieth birthday is a time of great celebration for anyone. According to Confucian tradition, age sixty represents the completion of a full cycle of the Oriental zodiac. Completing a full zodiac cycle is no doubt an auspicious occasion, but the real reason for its importance in the past may have been the fact that not many people lived that long. The importance of the 60th birthday is that at 60, a person has gone through the entire cycle of the sexagenary Chinese calendar.
Francis with wife, daughter & son
There is no better time to feel proud of this great achiever in Francis Fernandes Cascia and know more about him. We are pleased to highlight this chosen man’s childhood, career and achievements in Konkani.
Childhood and early achievements:
Francis Fernandes was born on July 14, 1944 to John and Santana Fernandes. Born in a lower middle-class family, Francis too has seen miseries of poverty in his life. He remembers his childhood days, where he had to combine two meals together, or he had had his entire academic year without a book. Nevertheless, Francis was a droll and daring child.
His passion towards stage was apparent in his childhood itself. In 1959, he practised dance steps of ‘Anna Basavanna’ Kannada song from the movie ‘Nala Damayanthi’ which planted in him, a relentless obsession towards stage art. His performance was so much appreciated that a Yakshagana troupe adopted this dance in one of their shows.
Francis says that he acted a few Kannada plays where he groomed as an actor.
‘Kityak Negar Kortai’ gave Francis Fernandes a first break as a drama artist and writer. Supposedly, it is the first Konkani play in and around Mangalore which was performed by male and female artists together. Soon the play staged four back-to-back shows apart from a number of performances later. Many Konkani stage stalwarts of those time including Fred Fernandes, VJP Saldanha, MP D’Sa and Simon Rasquinha recognized his talent as well as stirred his enthusiasm.
Realizing dreams, in the dream city:
After his Matriculation studies in Mangalore, Francis Fernandes Cascia landed in the dream city with dreams of his own. Francis wanted to make his career in Mumbai. His passion towards stage was never reduced a bit though. Mumbai had many other drama artists like Anthony Mendonca, Baptist Mendonca, Charlie Kirem, Rocky Kirem, Paid Pinto who staged dramas very regularly. Hence, being recognized as a writer and director was a mammoth task. That is when he met Lorry D’Mello and both of them proposed to stage Francis Fernandes’ drama under Lorry’s direction. But soon Lorry travelled to the Gulf on a permanent career and thus Francis got an opportunity to direct the play himself. This play was a super hit and Francis Fernandes became a well-known dramatist. Since then there was no looking back.
He wrote many plays in Mumbai and most of his dramas were super hits, some of which are ‘Voni’, ‘Aiz Mhaka Fallyam Tuka’, ‘Avoi Ti Avoi’ and others. Even Mangalore hosted many of his shows with his Mumbai troupe. Significantly, Francis deserves the credit for staging Konkani drama in Mangalore with reputed Goan stage actors like M Boyer, Kid Boxer, Alfred Rose and Rita Rose with many Mangalorean stars.
Francis has written many fictions, short stories and poems as well. ‘Mojea Voili Kals Nivar’, ‘Dhullinthlim Fullam’ and ‘Konn Aikott Mhozo Tallo’ are some of his other novels, apart from numerous articles.
In the Gulf: ‘The show goes on’
Francis’ search for better prospects led him to land in U.A.E in 1977. Here too, despite warnings and suggestions to give up his ‘madness’, Francis shortly wrote a new play ‘Ghatki Samaz’ and played it in the then Indian Club (Dubai) auditorium which was a sellout. Another super-hit drama ‘Dakoi Mhoji Chuk’ was written, played and performed in Dubai. ‘Maldisanv’, ‘Avoi Ti Avoi’ are some of his super hit dramas, both of which have sold more than 3,000 copies of video cassettes.
With wife Luiza
Francis has written about thirty-two plays in Konkani. Famous among them are ‘Kityak Negar Kortai’, ‘Avoi Ti Avoi’, ‘Tum Mhaka Visor’, ‘Voni’, ‘Ghatki Samaz’, ‘Maldisanv’ and the latest ‘Motlobi Sounsar’. For his outstanding work, enthusiasm and talent, Francis has achieved numerous awards and felicitations. Prominent among them are the ‘Kala Shree’ award by Kanarites Youth Association Mumbai, ‘Konkani Waag’ award by Maharashtra Konkani Association Mumbai and ‘Nat Samrat’ award by Divo Konkani Weekly. He has been felicitated by reputed Konkani organizations like Mangalore Konkans Dubai, Daiji Dubai Writers’ Forum, SMKC Dubai, Kalaangan and Kannik Konkani Fortnightly. Despite these awards and appreciations, Francis humbly states that he is nowhere compared to many other Konkani actors and writers like A T Lobo and Chafra.
He gives full credit to his better half Luiza for his success. He says that it is she who has always stood beside him, prompting him to continue with his endeavours.
Man behind the curtain: Francis Fernandes as a person:
Francis is also known for his helping nature. He is an active sponsor of numerous organizations, churches and charity organizations, besides rendering helping hand to countless individuals. His contribution towards cultural organizations is also highly commendable. There is tremendous amount of criticism from many of his known people for his generosity, to the extent that he has been termed as one who gives to receive shawls and garlands. He says generosity is his character and he cannot stop helping the poor and the needy. “Creator has given me in abundance,” he says. “I am more than what I aspired to be in my life. All I wanted was a house to live in and good future for my children. Now that I have acquired everything I longed for, it satisfies my soul”.
With son Johnson, daughter-in-law Sunitha & grandson
He admits some of his weaknesses. “I am a short tempered man”, says Francis. “Many a time, I have done many wrong things due to my anger”, Francis accepts. But he considers himself as a loving person also. He has no enemies; all those who interact with him say only good things about Francis. He is a hilarious person, very warm and cordial, and the best thing about him is that he is such a down-to-earth person. The other nature that attracts many is his nature to maintain his friendly relationship with people, big or small.
Francis Fernandes: ‘Life begins at sixty’:
Francis Fernandes Cascia is a content man today. He is happily married to Luiza and the couple has two children: son Johnson, daughter in law Sunita and grandson Ashley Francis (living in Dubai); daughter Flavia, son in law Ushu and granddaughter Rashnaz (living in New Zealand). Francis has seen all happiness in his life; he also is thankful for his good health and young looks.
Francis is young at heart. On being asked about his youthful appearance, he says that it is because he is ever smiling and makes others life. “I can’t believe that I am sixty years. My childhood memories are still as fresh as yesterday”, he smiles, “and I have no plans of retirement. I shall continue to be what I am today, and with God’s grace, I hope to continue till He permits me.” He has no plans of his retired life. “Maybe", he says, “what strikes me is to write a few plays in Mumbai and present them – at least one every year”. His passion and excitement is still the same, and he hopes to continue it for long.
Daijiworld.com is glad to wish him a very happy birthday and may he be blessed with abundance of happiness, peace and prosperity.