This Article is From Jan 31, 2017

Goa Elections 2017: At This Village, Political Satires 'Educate' Voters Ahead Of Polls

Francis De Tuem, a Tiatrist for 18 years, adorns a suit made of old 1,000 rupee notes.

Margao, Goa: At 7.30 pm in Canaguinim village, about 30 km from Goa's big Margao city, the roads are dark, the streets dead and the only activity is at the local church which prepares for its weekly Tiatr show. The villagers start trooping in by 8 and the show begins on a makeshift stage, under a colourful tarpaulin. Tiatr is a form of musical theatre, many times political satire and akin to the nukkad natak in North India.

While Tiatr is popular all over the state, it is especially influential in places like Canaguinim where most villagers do not access television and newspapers.

Fifteen minutes into the show, a woman in high heels and a man in a dapper suit take the stage and enact a satire on ATM queues after the notes ban. A little later, Francis De Tuem, a Tiatrist for 18 years, comes on stage in a suit made of old 1,000 rupee notes, as the audience breaks into a rapturous applause.

A little later, he does a satirical piece on "Vande Mataram" raising questions on the idea of national identity. "I sing songs about whatever wrong is going in Goa and in India. I try to make people aware so that they can choose the perfect candidate", said Francis.

Food started doing the rounds as some villagers poured what seemed like local alcohol into plastic glasses, away from the eyes of the Father. No phones rang in between the performances as cellphone connectivity anywhere close to the church was a "miracle" as one villager put it.

"I didn't know about JNU and what was happening in Delhi until a performance like this on it. We don't read the news or watch TV. Even if we do, it's local news. Here we learn a lot about what's happening around the country", said Alex, a young boy who runs a grocery store in the village. Others say it is the humour that takes the mundane away from the politics. "People enjoy seeing the drama and it educates them about who they should elect", said Nina, a doctor.

We leave Canaguinim at about 10pm as the show breaks for half-time. Volunteers at the church read out numbers for the tambola game as locals chatter away into the night.

Canaguinim is represented in the state assembly by Chandrakant Kavelaker of the Congress. The villagers says that the major issues for them this election will be demonetisation and youth unemployment.

Goa votes on February 4. Votes will be counted on March 11.