In the last century the decade of 60s was the decade of comedians and vamps in the Hindi cinema. The vamps were rare in odia cinema, but 60s was the decade of comedians also in the odia cinema. But this trend started changing in both the national and regional cinemas from the mid 70s. The roles of the vamps were shifted from the specialized actresses to the main female lead and the responsibility of comedy was taken care of by the male leads .Now in the new millennium, the concept of comedy in cinemas, both in national and regional films has been changed a lot. Now this is the era of sit-coms and rom-coms, where the responsibility of comedy is taken care by the lead characters, which are not so called specialist in comic acting. Whether it clicks or not, is another issue, but there is no doubt that a major shift happened from the age-old concept of comedy.
In odia films Dinabandhu Das, popularly known as Tima and Sarat Mohanty were perhaps the first to make an impact as comedians. Their ability to keep audience in splits was proved beyond doubt in Films like Nuabahu, Amada Bata ,Manikjodi and Jeevan Sathi. In Kiye Kahara, directed by Nitai Palit, Sagar Das played comedian opposite Dali, where his performance was immensely appreciated by both the classes and masses. In seventies, Mamata directed by Byomakesh Tripathy marked the dawning of another era in comedy in Odia films.Shyamelendu and Nari with their typical appearance handled those comic scenes. People liked it and they become very popular. They didn’t have to utilize their sense of timing. So, it is unwise to challenge their talents of comedy acting. The basic thing required for a comic acting is the timing. Whoever has that skill of timing better, is a better comic actor. Take the example of Bijay Mohanty. Bijay Mohanty was a hero material in Odiafilms. Though he was not a typical actor like Jayee, Banku , still he excelled in comedy acting only because of his that talent and sense about timing.
The scenario started changing when especially Jayee appeared in the sense. He changed the dimension of comic acting in Odia cinema. In 1982, Phoola Chandan, a teen-age love story, made under the banner of Jayashree productions broke ‘all the previous box office records. Md Mohasin, a prominent supporting actor, made his successful directorial debut with this movie. The film marked the emergence of Uttam Mohanty and Aparajita as a romantic pair. Besides, the film presented Jayiram Samal, popularly known as Jayee, who with his funny accent and sheer sense of humour went on to become the darling of the odia audience.
Then came the comic-duo Braja and Banku They actually ruled the comic empire for a long time But in the films they acted in, one would hardly get any evidence of whether they were great actors, In the same time DebuBrahma and Aravind Sarangi had create a wave as a comedian. They both were great actor and they were great comic actors. Their sense of timing was so accurate, that their co-actors felt huge difficulty in coping-up with them as a lady Comediennes Mamina and Runu have also carved a niche for themselves in odia films. They charted their way into the hearts of the masses with their flawless comic portrayals. Other actresses like Anita Biswas and Kuni Mishra have also played their characters with aplomb in several films. But prior to that, Anita Das and Preeti Patnaik had done a commendable job in Jajabara.
Recently Harihar Mohapatra popular as Hari, Thin, Chunga, Salil Mitra,Jeevan Panda and Suman were joining as comedian in odia cinema. Papupam Pam aka Tathaprakash Satpathy , though branded as a comedian in odia cinema, was an actor par excellence. He single handedly took the responsibility of the feature films like Rangila Toka and Chauka Chhaka. Papupam Pam was the first actor who started comedy acting with little bit of intelligence. He was a trained in theatre. So, it was possible for him to bring in new dimension in his body language and dialogue-throwing. He never used any mannerism, dialect to generate comedy. It is surprising, that tough Braja and Banku, both were regular stage actors; they never tried anything like Papupampam.
Who has the best sense of timing as comic actor in odia cinema? To me it was Shymalendu. He acted in several films, but his ten second appearances in University hostel sequence in odia cinema Mamata would remain forever as example of superb comedy acting. It is a general rule that if you want to be good comedian you have to become a superior actor first. Uttam Mohanty is the proof of this theory. His acting in Jwain Pua, Romeo – The Lover Boy, Mu Tate Love Karuchi, Ae Jugara Krushna Sudama and Sei Jhiati are example of superb comedy acting.Among the new generation Budhaditya has ample sense of humour in Premarogi film his acting with jayee add a new chapater in the annals of odia cine history. But not always a better an actor become a successful comedian. Prasant Nanda never becomes successful comedy actor in spite of his superb attempt.
But tragically, scope for comedians has reduced in Odiafilms with the growing emphasis given only to lead characters. As a result, the place of comedians in a film has taken a beating. Needless to say it has jeopardized the careers of comic actors and actresses in the films. The quality of humour in contemporary odia films has also gone down to lewd jokes, slapstick comedy and double meaning dialogues.