Konkani stage lost yet another stalwart with the death of John Salvador Hipolito Roquelino Gomes who was more popularly known as Kokoy. Born on 2nd December 1937, Kokoy passed away in Mumbai on 24th May 2011 and his mortal remains were laid to rest in the Gomes family crypt at Panzorconne, Cuncolim on 27th May.
Having been born in a family that was associated with tiatr Kokoy made his debut on the Konkani stage in a tiatr written and produced by his uncle Caetaninho Rebello and took to it like a fish takes to water.
His contribution to the Konkani stage is immense as he was an actor, writer, director, lyricist, composer and singer thereby a truly all in one as far as a tiatr is concerned. What is truly commendable about his achievement is the fact that he was not trained in any of the arts but learnt them himself including music.
His debut was with a song that was extremely well received and in fact established him as a singer. In his lifetime Kokoy composed innumerable songs including duets which he sung with Cecilia, Philomena, Cynthia and Eddie Mascarenhas, to name a few. He also produced two albums Sopon and Goeam Apoita with his daughter Riza featuring in the latter.
Kokoy also acted in tiatrs of Fr. Pedro Xavier Ozario, Anthony D’Sa, Prem Kumar, Seby Coutinho and Robin Vaz.
Some of the tiatrs written by him are Atancho Sounsar, Devacho Hukum Padricho Gutt, Guneanv Konnacho?, Dubhav, Poriksha and Fukott Charlie.
However, is most important contribution to tiatr is his writing on this art form. His book titled Tiatristank Xrodhanjali chronicled the lives of great tiatrists who were no longer living at that time. He also wrote another book Tiatr’s Living Legends on the lives of tiatrists living. Both these books are virtual treasure troves on information about tiatrists and their work.
Besides, Kokoy has written many articles on tiatr and its various nuances which have been published in practically all the Konkani publications in Goa and not only other parts of India but also abroad. All the leading English publications in Goa have relied upon Kokoy to give them articles or anecdotes on tiatr and tiatrists whenever required.
Kokoy was a simple person who mingled very comfortably with the high and mighty and also the low and suffering and therein lay the true essence of his persona.
He was honoured with many awards including the Goa State Cultural Award by Government of Goa, the Fr. Freddy J da Costa Journalist Award by Dalgado Konkani Academy in 2006, Tiatr Academy of Goa’ s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 and was also felicitated by Konkani monthlies Gulab and Jivit.