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MANMOHAN MAHAPATRA: Journey from SEETA RATI to BHIJA MATIRA SWARGA

BY  ASHOK PALIT

One of the prime tasks of a responsible filmmaker i.e. most trenchant analysis of contemporary societal dilemmas, has been nearly mastered by Manmohan Mahapatra, arguably one of the pioneers of purposive new wave cinema. Not he, but his meticulously crafted characters loom large in all his films. Not the characters’ traits, qualifications, social class, showmanship or reputation, but their mere existence is the ground which dominates the films.

Surrealistic touch of Mahapatra is evident unfailingly in all his movies. That desire to draw a line outside the boundary, which stands contrary to conventional films based on factious utopian themes, characterizes his genius. To quote the great story-teller Conan Doyle, ‘it’s quite elementary’. Is life not all about experimenting ? Is life not about breaking the formulae ? Blame it on as bland a factor as monotony or as creative a facet called rebelliousness. Mahapatra sticks to his guns with a conviction which is honest i.e., he must not get allured into the commercial gimmicks, will not project events which have none or least common denomination and which is not reflective of a perception framed by his own self.

Most of his films are based on a thin story line,comprising series of moments,which have a cumulative effect on the onlooker,where the characters,the situations, the minor story elements all ensemble in to  an experience.He deliberately under play the dramatic point of the film,in fact the  de-emphasis  of drama happens to be an integral part of his cinema.

Klanta AparanhaotAndha Diganta 02ot

His films rarely use close up.It is  mostly with mid shots along with  elliptical cutting that he creates an ambience which has a  distinct style.

Born on 10th November 1951 in Khordha, Odisha, he joined the film and Television Institute of India, Poona. After completing his studies in FII, he made his first feature film, “Seeta Raati” in 1976, which could not be completed till 1980, due to financial problems. This film won the ‘Rajat Kamal’ in the National Film Awards in 1982, it also happens to be the first Odia film to be selected for the prestigious ‘Indian Panorama’ section of the International Film Festival of India, New Delhi.

He has directed thirteen feature films, out of which twelve are in Odia language. He has been considered by critics to be a pioneer in the ‘New Wave’ movement of Odia cinema, single mindely persuing his effort for good cinema. His films have survived the ‘ravages of consumerism’ devouring Odia cinema for the last three decades. He has also directed telefilms, teleserials and documentaries. His films have won nine (9) National Awards and also many major State Film Awards. It may be mentioned that one of his films has won the first technical National award (Best Cinematography [B/W]) in he context of Odia Cinema. Some of his film have been screened in the ‘Indian Panorama’ section of the IFFI in the respective years as well as being shown abroad in festivals at USA, Italy and Germany.

Most of is films explore the socio-economic realities of the characters in his films are realist in nature, the mainstay being human relationship and above all the ambience of the milieu which he portrays with great effect, as the noted film critic John Hood mentions in his book ‘The Essential Mystery’- (Manmohan) Mahapatra is a master of atmospherics. The frankness and intimacy of his photography so well engender the exquisite naturalism of his films, and carefully crafted visual experience……. enhancing the visual with folk or classical music,

 

ARUN AND JAYA IN MAJHI PACHAMahasweta

Natural sounds or the powerful effects of silence’, he further writes, the mostnotable aspects of Manmohan Mahapatra’s genius as a film maker is his skill in translating to the  screen so much of the actuality of the  oriya village, on translation  that entails not only faithfully physical  re-creation but also  an extraordinarily sensitive awareness of mood and atmosphere….1 To my mind, themost notable among his works are, “Seeta Raati”, “Neeraba Jhada”, “Klanta Aparanha” among others. Another important aspect of his works are that it is not only acclaim awards, but his relentless effort in continuing to work for the cause of meaningful and significant films in the realm of Odia cinema.

Rightly he has been conferred with the “Jayadev Award”, the highest state honour in films for one’s contribution to Odia cinema.

Utkal University of Culture conferred film-maker Manmohan Mahapatra with an honorary doctorate degree on 17th, April, 2017.

Manmohan Mahapatra, passed away on 13 th,January,2020  Monday. He was 69.

FILMOGRAPHY

FILMS DIRECTED:

Feature Films

  1. a) ” SEETA RAATI ” / ODIA

(NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1982)

  1. b) “NEERABA JHADA” / ODIA

(NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1984)

  1. c) “KLANTA APARANHA” / ODIA

(NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1985)

  1. d) “MAJHI PAHACHA”/ODIA

(NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1987)

  1. e) “NISIDHAA SWAPNA” /ODIA

(NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1988)

  1. f) “TRISANDHYA” / ODIA

(ORISSA STATE FILM AWARDS, 1987)

  1. g) “KICHI SMRUTI KICHIANUBHUTI” / ODIA (NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1989)
  2. h) “ANDHADIGANTA”/ODIA

(NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1990)

  1. i) “AGNI VEENA” / ODIA

(ORISSA STATE FILM AWARDS, 1991)

  1. j) “VINNA SAMAYA” / ODIA

(NATIONAL AWARD WINNER, 1993) »

  1. k) “MUHURTA”/ODIA

(ORISSA STATE FILM AWARDS, 2002)

BHIJA MATIRA SWARGA

l (ORISSA STATE FILM AWARDS, 2018)

1)      ‘BITS & PIECES’ (2011) / Hindi (To be Released)

National Awards

  1. SeetaRaati (Rajat Kamal) *
  2. Neeraba Jhada (Rajat Kamal)**
  3. Klanta Aparanha (Rajat Kamal)*
  4. Majhi Pahacha (Rajat Kamal)*
  5. Nisidha Swapna (Rajat Kamal)*
  6. Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti (Rajat Kamal)*
  7. Andha Diganta (Rajat Kamal)*
  8. Vinna Samaya (Rajat Kamal)*

(* Rajat Kamal for best Odia Film)

(** Rajat Kamal for best Odia Film and best photography [B/W])

INDIAN PANORAMA Feature Film) (Prestigious Section of IFFI held annually)

  1. Seeta Raati.

(This is the first Odia film to be selected in this section)

  1. Neeraba Jhada.
  2. Klanta Aparanha.
  3. Majhi Pahacha
  4. Konark- The sun Temple (Documentary)

State Award

  1. As Best Director:-
  2. Trisandhya (1986)
  3. Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti (1988)
  4. Andha Diganta(1989)
  5. Agni Veena (1990)
  6. AsBestFilm:-

(Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami Award)

  1. Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti (1988)
  2. Andha Diganta (1989)
  3. Agni Veena (1990)
  4. Muhurta (2002)

5-Bhija Matira swarga(2018)

  1. As Best Screen Play writer:- Muhurta (2002)
  2. Jayadev Award (2001)

The Jayadev Award happens to be the special award given to a film personality for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Odia Cinem

Utkal University of Culture conferred film-maker Manmohan Mahapatra with an honorary doctorate degree today.on 17th,April,2017.

DOCUMENTARIES DIRECTED:

  1. a) Voices of Silence(1981)
  2. b) Konark — The Sun Temple(1984) / Indian Panorama
  3. c) Odissi Dance– A Glimpse(1988)
  4. d) Folk Dances of Orissa (1990)
  5. e) The Journey(2012)

TELEFILMS: DIRECTED:

 

  1. a) RAJA SAHEB                (HINDI)          (1993)( Telefilm produced for Doordarshan)
    (For National Network Doordarshan)
  2. b) ANTAHEEN PRATIKSYA (HINDI)          (1994)( Teleserial produced for Doordarshan)
    (For National Network Doordarshan)
  3. c) INTEZAR (HINDI)         (1995)( Telefilm produced for Doordarshan)
    (For National Network Doordarshan)
  4. d) KUCH YADEIN (HINDI)          (1996)(Telefilm produced for Doordarshan)
    (For National Network Doordarshan)
  5. e) RAKTATIRTHA ERAM (ODIA)            (1997)( Teleserial for HRD, N.Delhi)
    (For Doordarshan Kendra,BBSR)
  6. f) RUCHI (ODIA)           (1998)( Teleserial for HRD, N.Delhi)
    (For HRD,New Delhi)
  7. g) ‘Nua Sakala’ (ODIA)           (2000)(Teleserial for Women & Child Development Deptt.,Odisha.)

h)       PADUKAPUJA                                                       (ODIA)            (2003)

(For Doordarshan Kendra,BBSR)
i)       SAHSKI                                                                        (ODIA)            (2003)

(For Doordarshan Kendra,BBSR)

FILMS / TELEFILMS Produced:

  1. a) “NeerabaJhada”
  2. b) “Nisidhha Swapna”
  3. c) “Anthaheen Pratikshya”
  4. d) “Prathama Pratisruti”
  5. e) “PadukaPuja”
  6. f) “Sakshi”
  7. g) “Sikhya asikhya”
  8. h) “Sikhya”
  9. i) “Ruchi”
  10. j) “Nua Sakala”
  11. k) “Kanika”

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About Ashok Palit

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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