Portuguese film festival in Goa: History is inevitable only in hindsight…

Interesting piece by Sidin Vadukut.

He points how we are celebrating Portuguese films are being celebrated in Goa which was unthinkable a few years ago:

The more subtle irony here, I think, is that merely five decades after India went to war with Portugal over Goa, relations have normalized to an extent that may have seemed unfathomable in the 1960s. Or, indeed, for much longer. It was only in 1974, 13 years after the annexation, that a detente was arrived at between both nations.

Here we are, a generation later, celebrating a festival of Portuguese films in Goa. This slow transformation of affairs may seem trivial to most Indians and Portuguese. But for a few with vivid memories of those events, things are anything but trivial. In 2007, Portuguese film-maker Luís Galvão Teles visited Goa for the 38th International Film Festival of India. It was a moving experience for Teles. His father, Teles told Tony Tharakan of Reuters, had argued for Portugal, against Indian claims on Goa, at the International Court of Justice in 1960. Teles was then a child.

Shortly afterwards when India liberated Goa, Teles recalled, there was heartbreak at home in Portugal: “I remember people crying at my place. We were praying and still hoping for a miracle.”

His sentiments changed, Teles said, when he went to university and realized colonies didn’t make sense. In India for the first time in 2007, he told Tharakan that Goa was so reminiscent of his homeland that he felt “like he’s walked into a film set with Portugal as the backdrop”.


All of this harks back to two of the smartest things I have ever read about history. There is a certain aspect of trite Zen koan about these two lines. But they are, I think, deeply insightful.

The first is that history is inevitable only in hindsight. When we read grand historical narratives about wars, religions, nations, economies and such like, we are often tempted to see not only a logical order to events, but also rule out the possibility of any other potential sequence of events. So, for instance, obviously Western colonialism would have spread to Asia via the sea, because the seas were uncontested. Neither Indian nor Chinese navies particularly stood in the way of the Portuguese…thus obviously…


Actually in this the fault is also of the historian who glorify the narrative. History is about figuring the various choices one had and the final choice one made which eventually shapes events/things etc..


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