'Goa is no more the land of the content'

Panaji, Sep 11 (IANS) Time was when Goa was described as Sussegado - the land of the content. Alas, this is no longer so as "apathy" now rules the state, bemoans Agnello Dias, an ad guru who has often tapped the landscape, sounds and moods of this beach state in his hugely sucessfull TV commercials, including the Vodafone spot.

It's now turned chaotic and mercenary-like, "especially with the ease with which Goans are giving up their houses and living spaces to buyers who are not Goans, which is entirely a monetary decision in most cases. This had lead to a tilt in the population balance," Dias told IANS in an interview.

"I've always felt that Goa's most wonderful characteristic is its people, and this is slowly starting to change. So, yes, apathy and maybe confusion," said Dias, who started his own ad agency Taproot, after a stint as chief creative officer with advertising giant JWT.

And it does hurt him, because there is often a ring of "that Goa" to Dias's ads.

In 2007, the adman transformed a legendary Goan song about a drunkard threatening to beat up his wife into a thumping jingle with a chaotic energy for Nike. In doing so, it went much against the tide of the time, when Sufi music ruled the roost as the ideal accompaniment for TV commercials.

The song, "Bebdo" (drunkard), originally sung by Lorna Cordeiro, known as Goa's answer to Lata Mangeshkar, back in the 1970s was composed by Chris Perry and is about a drunkard ranting against his wife, threatening to beat her up if she fails to give him booze.

This was long before Remo emerged on the mainstream Indian music scene and became an obvious synonym for all Goan music.

Dias, of course, tweaked the song, snipping out the parts dealing with domestic violence and got it sung again by Mumbai-based singer Ella Castelino for the ad, which has young cricketers playing atop buses parked in a typically chaotic Mumbai traffic jam, with cricketers like Zaheer Khan and S. Sreesanth pitching in.

"Like a lot of Goans, I too have grown up listening to a lot of Lorna's songs. At the time of making this ad, Sufi music was the trend. I wanted something different. It also went well with the visuals. I wanted to show cricket in a different light. Not as a gentleman's game but as a tough and hard sport, as severe as football," he said, speaking about the inspiration for the award-winning ad.

Was it difficult to sell a Goan song to JWT? No, he said, because he was heading the agency at the time.

"The song has a certain energy and vibrancy which went well with the story... I had a lot of people asking me why I chose a Latin American track over a Hindi track. I've had to explain that it is indeed an Indian track. The ad finally ended up being much more powerful than what we had thought it would be," Dias said.

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 'helicopter shot' ad, which had the

wicketkeeper-batsman "unraveling" the secret behind his unique cricketing stroke, also had a thing or two with a Goa memory: a footballer friend who used to show off his quirky dribbling skills.

And, of course, there was the iconic Vodafone ad campaign. The one with the pug in it, which Dias says is one of the most popular ads to have been shot in Goa.

Mumbai-bred Agnello has fond memories of Goa, where his parents originate from.

"I come from the village of Sarzora in south Goa. I have a lot of childhood memories spending holidays in Goa as we used to come often. I love football and I have fond memories of playing the sport for inter-village tournaments," he claims.

Apart from beaches, Goa has a lot more to offer, he says, as far as ad shoots are concerned.

"Most people still stay and shoot around the coast. They haven't moved beyond the beaches," he said.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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