As Goa, India’s smallest state comes to grip with growing migration, three stories unfold around its unique bread. Stories of people dealing with migration, changing culture and the need to earn a living.
In Goa are two bakeries in Goa; they are as similar as they are different. Alzira’s family has been baking bread for generations. They might be ‘insiders’ but are challenged to find local Goan workers in this labour intensive trade. The survival of the bakery thus depends on the daily toil of family members. Not far away is another bakery run entirely by ‘outsiders’. Kiran and his co-workers set out daily at the crack of dawn, cycling for miles to deliver bread. Displaying the tenacity of migrants, they adapt to a new trade, new language and even new diet. While the two bakeries labour on, a returning migrant, Marius, is on a mission. Marius’ family is originally from Goa and he has set himself the task of reclaiming bread of the past. He hits the streets determined to achieve his goal.
Goa’s bread, locally called pão, successfully made the journey from ‘outsider’ to ‘insider’ after it was made popular in Goa by its former Portuguese rulers. Now, traditional bakers are leaving the trade even as nostalgia for this unique bread grows; and a new set of bakers from across the state border fill in.
Konkani, English, Kannada
I was born and raised in Goa and have experienced first hand the syncretic character that defined this former Portuguese territory.
After years of living away, upon return, it was apparent that my home state was changing. A large-scale demographic tilt has made Goa acutely aware of its small fragile culture. Like the rest of the world, it is struggling to understand the layered narrative of migration.
For me, pão is a tool to convey the story of change.
When the Portuguese came to Goa, they came with their bread. Hindus initially shunned bread; it was used as a tool for proselytization. Goans soon became expert bakers, many of them migrated to Mumbai (then Bombay), taking pão to this global metropolis of the British Empire and beyond. Today, bread is staple diet across community and class in Goa. However, local bakers are leaving the trade and a migrant workforce is filling this void.
Every stage of working on the film was a learning. One of my biggest take-aways? In an intimate society such as Goa, bread is a tool to stake claim to belong.
Sonia is a multi-medium creator and curator. She has worked as producer on documentary films and television programming. She divides her time between Mumbai and Goa.
Mamta is the recipient of the National FilmAwards for Fried Fish, Chicken Soup & a Premiere Show(CPH:DOX; International Jury Award, MIFF; John Abraham National Award, SIGNS), Colours Black (Grand Prix, 9th Biennial of Moving Images, Geneva), Sisters Inc. (BBC World series), www.thelastmileselco.in (one of India's first interactive films).
Saumyananda was cinematographer for award winning Eeb Allay Ooo directed by Prateek Vats. He was nominated for the 2018 Asia Pacific Screen Award for Achievement in Cinematography for Balkempa directed by Ere Gowda
He won the MIFF National Award for Best Cinematography for Have You Seen the Arana? directed by Sunanda Bhat.
Rikhav won the Marathi Filmfare Award for Best Editor for Court directed by Chaitanya Tamhane. He was editor on National Film Award winning Fried Fish, Chicken Soup & a Premiere Show directed by Mamta Murthy. He also edits art installation videos.
Alzira & Wilson Gomes
Sharing responsibilities at the bakery is crucial to making it work. Do they have a favourite bread? “We eat whatever is unsold. Sometimes we keep aside pão but if a customer does not want other types of bread, we give our pão”.
The matriarch is an expert at giving shape to various bread. She comes from a family of bakers. “My father’s brother was a baker. My father died when I was very young, I don’t remember him. I have a younger brother. He used to work with the Railways in Bombay, he is in retirement now”.
The young man has learnt the ropes rather quickly, earning appreciation from his boss. He has been given greater responsibility at work. “Initially I found it bit difficult, my body ached after cycling long distances. I used to be tense about the sale of bread. But now I know the tricks of the trade’.
Presenting our very special film, The Meal.
The dining table is a place of connection, where stories are told and meals shared. It is a space to nurture and sustain lives and cultures. In The Meal, four diners who have unique connections with bread share a meal over pão, talking about bread and its intimate connect with Goa.
The Meal (with English subtitles)
The Meal (with Portuguese subtitles)