The fresh face Heta Pandit looks at you out of page 5 of the GT today like
the pretty girl on the next door balcony. That is the image I have of her at
the first "Fontainhas Festival" five years ago. I was not a member of the
Goa Heritage Action Group [GHAG] then and was looking at the festival as an
'outsider'. It was good as a festival. As a first time event in a then
decaying 'Latin quarter' of Panaji, it was just great.
The old "People's High School" building was then on the verge of collpse.
Today, Jack and Miriam Sukhija, have breathed life into it and 'Geetanjali'
[as the building has been renamed by the grandson of Dr. Jack Sequeira, the
Father of the "Opinion Poll"] is a happening place for Art lovers and Book
worms. My "chai" shop at the beginning of Rua de Natal is a bright
Ultramarine blue and white like the frothy sea in the morning instead of a
drab, faded cream walled structure. They are symbols of a new lease of life.
So is the easy smile on Linda's face at "Viva Panjim" restaurant when she
entertains the cream of tourists who visit this area now. There is so much
The one and only music sensation, Remo Fernandes [now a Padmashree awardee],
sang to his heart's content, starting with his first song "Love you till I
die" from the "Beat-4" era of Simla and Panama Beat Contests during Summer
on the Calangute beach in the 1970s to the latest Brazilian song "Alma"
[Soul] with the Hindi film hits "O Meri Munni" ,"Humma" and "Pyaar ka
Signal" from film Bhagambag enroute...and "Maria Pita-shem " with the
Konkani Medley to end it all. Remo performed for free. He was truly a part
of the celebration of life at FFOTAS...the Fontainhas Festival of the Arts.
Remo had reason to be happy. Heta had just released his latest music video
"Muchacha Latina" [meaning Latin Girl] with lyrics in English and Hindi sung
with a Latin accent. The video is set in the streets of Fontainhas. Said
Remo, "They may call her an 'Outsider' , a non-Goan or a "Bhaillem" but the
truth is that Heta Pandit has saved Fontainhas from the apathy of Goans."
Even her critics will grant her that....though they may insist on calling
her names, as well.
Prakash Kamat of "The Hindu" newspaper asked Remo what it felt like to
receive the 'Padma Shree' award from the President of India. Said Remo, "It
is a very humbling experience. I am grateful to the Government of India for
recognising my talent and contribution...when I am yet to receive any
recognition from my own state of Goa or from the music fraternity in India."
This was just a part of the programme on stage at the Ralino Square near
Precy Building and Vivenda Souza. there was music by other groups before and
after Remo. There was live music on another stage near St.Sebastian chapel.
In between the two stages were a host of artists and photographers
displaying their works of Art, either in the street or in the heritage
houses within hugging distance of each other on either side.
In the street opposite the Fundacao Oriente, on Rua Felipe Neri, is the Food
Court with tasty Goan and Malvani fare. One can relish Sanna-vodde with
Sorpotel, eat Chorico-pao or dig into kombdi-vada, masala fish or even a
If you are in Goa anytime up to 13 February, 2007, do not forget to drop by
fonmtainhas in the evenings. The best time to visit is sunset and after. The
event then moves on to the INOX Courtyard for the Wine Festival [13 to 15
February] and on to the Carnival [17 to 20 February]. It is an extended
season for Bacchanalia....so drink responsibly. There after it will be the
electoral carnival to elect Goa's King Momo and the other clowns.
MIGUEL BRAGANZA, Mhapsa
Botanical Society of Goa