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Odia New Wave Cinema

By ASHOK PALIT

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The term ‘New Wave’, rather ‘Nouvelle Vague’, in case of cinema,  we all know,  started in  France in late  1950s-early  1960s  pioneered by the directors like   Truffaut,   Godard,   Resnais,   Rohmer,   Chabrol   etc.   But   there   are disagreements about the exactitude of the form and function of French New Wave–was it only about ‘politics of form’, whether and up to what extent the signatures of ‘New Wave’ can be traced back in the films prior to the officially designated period of New Wave, or about its avant-gardist nature. Through a process of culturally differentiated osmosis and as a part of shared post-imperial or post-colonial consciousness, different parts of this cinema-producing-planet came up with their assertions and claim to this prestigious intellectual coinage, and their own versions of New Wave. New German Cinema, American Independent Cinema flowered, Brazil came up with Cinema Novo and in India also we had Indian New Wave. Like all the different modes of modernity of different spaces, all these ‘New Wave’-s were also bound to be in variation with each other to a great extent. In official historiography, Indian New Wave is marked with the emergence of the film ‘Bhuban Shome’ by Mrinal Sen in 1969 but the term is still a confusing one.

New Wave cinema is a movement in Indian cinema that originated in the state of West Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to the mainstream commercial Indian cinema, represented especially by popular Hindi cinema, known today as Bollywood. It is inspired by Italian Neorealism; Parallel Cinema began just before the French New Wave and Japanese New Wave, and was a precursor to the Indian New Wave of the 1960s.

The movement was initially led by Bengali cinema and produced internationally acclaimed filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak.The  films of  Ray, Ghatak & Sen  which formed the core of our New Wave cinema not only put the Indian cinema firmly  in the world map,it also enabled us to see the realities of life in their various aspects in cinematic terms and helped the Indian New cinema and its minority audience to emerge. It is known for its serious content, realism and naturalism, symbolic elements with a keen eye on the sociopolitical climate of the times, and for the rejection of inserted dance-and-song routines that are typical of mainstream Indian films.

The contemporary New Wave in Indian cinema is distinguishable from previous movements through several factors, the most relevant of which are the issues and themes it concerns itself with. Unlike in the past when India’s existence was a story of nation building, and thus the works of Avante Garde filmmakers were entirely socio-political in nature where the plot and characters served only as commentary on worldly matters concerning the Indian nation, today India is a nation that has made its mark on the global landscape and is now debating its identity. It is a relatively more affluent and secure state, and consequently the concerns of people have moved away from the world outside to the world inside—or perhaps it is a reflection of the egocentric times we live in, that matters concerning personal well being of the individual have taken precedence over well being of the state as overarching entity. It is the characters and their unique psychological issues that take the forefront in contemporary New Wave Indian films. Of course, the socio-political climate still plays an integral part, but as a backdrop.

The impact of the rise of the New wave cinema was felt soon in the contemporary odia scene. In the sixties Mrinal Sen’s moving neo-realistic film, ‘Matira Manisha’ (The Man of Earth-1967), which first caused a handful of Oriya artists and intellectuals to take a close look into the possibilities of cinema as both an art form and a tool for critical social discourse, it is likely that the picture would have been even more. Oriya cinema then traveled with spiritual, social and folklore based themes and in the 60’s witnessed the advent of ‘New Wave’ cinema with Mrinal Sen’s “Matira Manisha”.

‘Matira Manisha’ first steps for New wave Odia cinema

‘Matira Manisha’ may be said to be one of Mrinal  Sen’s more important films even if the director himself has not been known to be expansive about it. The film was made during a period of intense struggle in the veteran filmmaker’s life and career. Matira Manisha’  Based on Novel by the reputed novelist and short story writer Kalindi Charan Panigrahi

For the film connoisseur it was perhaps the first authentic and creative work in Oriya, made in a style part-feature, part-documentary. The narrative underlines the threat of disintegration of a farming family under the pressure of social and economic change combined with shifting personal needs and ambitions. It was a different Sen from the one viewer came to know some years later, full of rage and too obvious a conscientious objector. Here, it was a quiet humanist at work, strong without being strident in his resolve to try and understand changing times and evolving creatures, refusing to sit in judgment or come up with easy, predictable, formulaic solutions. Come to think of it, the subject of possible withering away of that hallowed institution – the joint family – has rarely been handled with greater maturity or more sensitivity in the Indian cinema.
The whole armory of sophisticated treatments was employed, as a result of which it turned somewhat mechanistic. Besides, the film contained all the pet nostrums of  Mrinal Sen. For instance, he can always call on a train or a village fair to represent solitude and in communication. ‘Matira Manisha’ at times was so ridden with gimmicks that often it verged on affectation. Yet its vastly cinematic idiom had never been made before in Odia and hence it secured for Odia film recognition of maturity. Working outside Bengal for the first time, Sen sets the film in Orissa. The film contrasts traditional and modern values as exemplified by divergent attitudes of two brothers to their inherited land. Such divergence in attitudes is intensified during war Matira Manisha’ started with a preconceived notion of surrealism and liberation of the years when native exploiters and controllers of agrarian economy appear on the scene. Interestingly, no conclusion is drawn and no judgment is offered in the film. The spectator is asked to watch and, in the process, to get involved, to question.

Mrinal sen added one dream sequence in the ‘Matira Manisha’ justifying this act he narrates  ‘I have of late developed a taste for pamphleteering to blend the fictional with the actualities to draw conclusions on a propagandist note, I used to dream of riding Garuda — the mythical king of birds and the carrier of Vishnu, the slayer of enemies. I would ride on the bird around the house and then it would fly away. I used this image in ‘Matira Manisha’. How easily our experiences metamorphose into art”

 Successful alumni of the FTII lead the Odia New wave cinema Movement

Two successful alumni of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Nirad Mahapatra and Manmohan Mohapatra played significant role to change the face of Oriya cinema and lead from the front to establish art filmmaking in Odisha.

Eleven years after passing out from the Pune Film Institute in 1971, Nirad Mahapatra with the productional assistance from the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) made “Maya Miriga” (The Mirage-1983).Brecht and Bresson,Fellini,Ozu and  Bergman,Godard and Tarkovsky ,Ghatak ,Ray and Guru Duttt:that the initiation  of the students at Film Institute  is  extraordinary vast   is borne out by the styles  they have development  in their own films. For Nirad Mahapatra ,It is Ozu that he feels closest  to, stylistically, temperamentally and culturally ,saying “Before I discovered Ozu, Bresson was my favorite .I like Bresson’s form but it is difficult for me to react to his films and that,I think ,is because of a cultural barrier. No matter how much I read of Christianity ,with Ozu it is different, much simpler because Hindu and Buddhists  have a lot in common in their thinking,Philosophy,attitude to life…”

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The narrative which deals with a broken Oriya joint family can be truly called as the first Oriya alternate/parallel cinema.  “Maya Miraga”,The influence of Ozu shows in the meditative pace of the film, its detached  observation of  family life in a small town in Odisha,the under mining of traditional structures  as a new ways gnaw   at its foundation. The style is restrained ,understated; medium shots  and slow, lingering  pans match the elegiac  temper of the subject, suggesting   a nostalgic regret for  a secure universe with the joint family  as its centre, when relationships  could be taken for  granted  and individuals  fitted conveniently   in to given slots, no decision  were required ,no special effort needed to   be made.

The film was made with a shoestring budget. It was also made with an ensemble of primarily amateur actors. The film was shot completely in Puri, a beachside town in Orissa. The film dealt with the ever potent issue of those times (it’s still relevant today) – the joint family, aspirations of its members and its breaking up. This directorial debut went on to bag a lot of honor and accolade. Derek Malcolm an eminent Film critic wrote: ‘The great virtue of the film lies in its sense of atmosphere and the director’s sympathy with each of his characters, This is the sort of film which looks comparatively   unambitious but has an  authority and a command of its material  that is rare  enough  anywhere ,nowadays”

Nirad  Mahapatra defines about his directial debut “I intended Maya Miriga to be a long and compassionate look at its characters, watching the members of a family inexorably progress towards its break-up. I belong there, to the small-town middle-class joint family, and have been fascinated by its dreams and its agonizing nightmares. In it, I saw a lot of warmth, fellow-feeling, sharing of experiences, and a sense of responsibility. But I also see the tightrope walking of the married sons, the bitterness of its locked-up daughters-in-law, their need for freedom, economic or otherwise, the maladjustment in marriages and, above all, the selfishness that can damage the family’s very fiber.”

The one who was instrumentally continued to carry parallel cinema of the 80’s to the present time is producer-director Manmohan Mohapatra. It is with the advent of Manmohan Mahapatra that Odia  cinema might be said to have reached its apogee. Two black and white films, the first features of an immensely talented young director, stand amongst the finest works of the Indian  new wave cinema: Seeta Rati (1982) and Nirab Jhada (1983). It is in these two superb films that Manmohan sought with breathtaking effect to expose the variety of viciousness that festers behind the outward serenity of the Oriya village. His unsentimental humanism is reminiscent of Ray, while the artistic brilliance of his camera work, the long takes and the tantalisingly gentle pace of his films remind one of the great Keralan poet of the cinema, Aravindan.

His directial debut “Seeta Rati” reflects his inspiration from the New Wave Cinema which once originated in France. Drawing its narrative upon the psychology of women, this film gave birth to a new way of filmmaking in Odisha  and is quite a breakthrough in cinema. The female protagonist of the film Aruna has created a respectable space for herself, breaking the medieval orthodoxy sometimes through her love and sometimes through betrayal, while “Nirab Jhada” depicts sensitive narration of the looming tragedy of an uprooted   rural community.

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After “Seeta Rati” & “Nirab Jhada”  Mohapatra has dedicatedly taken the new wave cinema movement forward with “Klanta Aparanha”( 1985) ‘Andha Diganta’(1989)Majhi Pahacha”(1987) “Nisiddha Swapna”( 1988) “Trisandhya”(1986) “Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti”(19888) “Agni Veena”(1990) “Vinna Samaya”(1991) “Muhurta”(2002) and ‘Bhija Matira Swarga’(2018) to prove his mettle. “Klanta Aparanha” story is based on the problems faced by a middle class family in rural Odisha.

Majhi Pahacha” revolves around for a faithful portrayal of arrange of an individual in today’s urban milleu,while “Nisiddha Swapna”   revolves around its  promising  technique in objectively  observing  the life of a family  in an odia village  the attitudes, motivations, hopes and  disillusionment of each one in the context of  social change of which they are all a part, “Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti” remembered for the cinematic depiction of the past, present and future of the psyche of a representative village in Odisha, Andha Diganta depicts unemotional  description of the increasing misery of a peasant who discover his inadequacy  in fighting  his economic  servitude and his own bourgeois attitude towards  his wife‘s past and “Vinna Samaya”  explores competent  treatment of the corruption of modern youth in searh of  illusive wealth.

The existential pains and problems of a middle class family have been magically portrayed with the tone of realism in majority of Mohapatra’s films. Till now, no one can supersede the talent of Manmohan Mohapatra as far as making of parallel cinema is concerned. Manmohan Mahapatra is a metaphor for good odia  cinema. He is the symbolic image of ‘humanist cinema.’ He has survived the ‘ravages of consumerism’ devouring Odia cinema for the last three decades. He, like Satyajit Ray, believes in plot and narrative, and his films always tell a tale.

Manmohan Mahapatra recent film‘Bhija Matira Swarga ’(2018) establishes the apparent peace and concord of the village. Set against the backdrop of a remote village in Odisha, The film patiently observes the characters, watching them go through intriguing moments, encountering them in their own way. Commenting about this  film Manmohan Mahapatra speaks that “I am a keen observer of life in villages. People in villages, especially the ones who are ageing, believe that too much of communication is not conducive to our mental health. They are content and happy sticking to their old routine. In my film, the protagonist develops a relationship in the virtual world even while having another relationship in the real world. While there is a clash between priorities in maintaining both the relationships, I also explore the clash between the attitudes towards real and virtual reality of the elderly generation and that of the youth”

Manmohan had directed thirteen feature films, of which twelve are in Odia language.Only“Muhurta”(2002) was an adoption of Barendra Dhal’s short story.  Regarded by critics as a father of ‘ Odia New Wave’ cinema, his films have survived the ‘ravages of consumerism’ devouring Odia cinema for the last three decades. The surrealistic touch of Mahapatra is evident in all his movies.

Most of his films are based on a story line, comprising series of moments, which have a cumulative effect on the onlooker, where the characters, the situations, the minor story elements come together to offer an experience. He deliberately under plays the dramatic point of the film; in fact the de-emphasis of drama happens to be an integral part of his cinema. His films rarely use close-ups. It is mostly with mid shots along with elliptical cutting that he creates an ambience which has a distinct style.

Dhare Aluo”(1983) directed by Sagir Ahmed    depicts murder of wife of a radical journalist. Hemant, the scribe is wrongfully sentenced to jail on motive and he sends his children Bulu and Runu, for their security, to a family acquaintance in another village. Unable to withstand the tortures, children flee this place and take shelter at a stranger doctor’s place. Doctor Rudra is retired and his son Lalit is a rebel with a cause who has taken it unto himself to undo the wrongs caused by perpetrators in the society

Lalit’s wife Sumitra lends her positive spirit in both the situations and realities; stays with her father-in-law. Amidst the lost hopes and subdued convictions, the children bring in rays of hopes and lights. Not everything is lost. Children are devoid of the irrelevant complexities and the failed ideologues, the blind adherence and the mindless radicalisms. They are the rays of new light that was “Dhare Aluo” Despite proving his directorial credentials with “Dhare Aluo’(A Ray of Light), directed by Sagir Ahmed under Garuda Cinegraphics was based on a story by Manorama Das, Sagir Ahmed has not been able to progress further.

In the 70’s, it was Biplab Roy Choudhury who freed himself from the traditional boundary and madea film called “Cheelika Teeray”(1978) on the lifestyle of the fisher folk community of Cheelika. This film raised incisive questions about corruption and exploitation in Odia society but despite the significance of its subject and its superb camera work, it was clearly made with the box office in mind, an interest that dilutes the serious intent of the work. Later on, his two films “Aranya Rodana” (1993) and “Nirbachana” (1996) contribute significantly to the world of new wave cinema. and “Nirbachana” is an adoption of Bengali writer Prafulla Ray short story &   “Aranya Rodana”  is cinematic   reform of  Eminient   writer Satkadi Hota  novel  ‘ Asant Aranya” ( While ”Aranya Rodana” concentrates on the story of a hardworking lady journalist surviving in a tribal dominated place, “Nirbachana” as the name suggests exhibits the vote bank politics and the malfunctioning of black money.

This film is stunningly controlled and uniquely cinematic metaphor of rural India an impending environmental catastrophe shows with compassion and satire. Biplab Roy Choudhury’s films have a strong middle-the-road appeal, combining human interest  ,a well told story some perceptive  and thought provoking social comment. Particularly notable about his work   is its strong  sense of  relationship –harmonious  or hostile –between people, and the land and this connection   between the sociopolitical and the natural  gives direction  and context  to his thematic  as well as  defining his style and atmospherics.

Based on Bibhuti Patnaik’s novel,’ Hakim Babu ‘directed by Pranab Das was made in 1985. The landmark film explores the subject of land acquisition of poor and depicts the dismal picture of displacement owing to industrialization. Mr.Das  says, “Directors these days don’t search for good stories, a reason we rarely get to watch good films. Most of the films based on literary masterpieces are timeless.” Hakim Babu” Film can be considered as a middle road in Oriya cinema. While his “Sesha Pratikshya”(1985) deals with the psychology of women in different direction, “Agni Sanket(1992) reflects the pains and problems  of an Oriya joint family residing in an extremely rural locale of Orissa. There is a humanist theme which makes the presentation of this film brilliant.

In 1990, with “Mukti Mashal” Shantanu Mishra joined the bandwagon of directors of the alternative mold. The story which evolved a mass consciousness, according to Mishra, was actually only a depiction of his own village life in Kendrapara. In this film the daughter of the Zamindar raises her voice against his atrocities.

Shantanu Mishra’s next venture “Mu’ra Murchhana” (1995) is a wise experimentation with dreams, ambitions and material aspirations of a lower-middle economic class family, the plot dwells with the psychology of women treated in a different direction. The film begins with one rainy night and ends in another. Between the events, there lies one process. The process of material ambitions which enlivens and brightens up an otherwise dormant parasitic family.
“ Dure Digante” films focus on traditional fishermen resistance to the mechanization of fishing as a metaphor, the conflict between modernsation and human existence till   perturbed over the denigration of environment.

. In Alaya Mohanty’s produced “Aasha”, director Mishra has given a cinematic shape to the dreams and aspirations of lady journalist Aasha. After Manmohan Mohapatra, he is the second filmmaker to deliver a maximum of four films namely  “Mukti Mashal”(1990)“Aasha”(1993) ) “Muraa Murchana”(1995)  and “Doora Diganta”(1997)

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Another front runner of the Oriya new wave Cinema is the Mumbai based famous cinematographer turned director Apoorva Kishore Bir. While his NFDC produced “Adi Mimansha” (1991) starred two of the most outstanding performers, Neena Gupta and Mohan Gokhale were part of the star cast in this Oriya film.Which was  based on the short story  ‘ Parajaya’ penned by Mohapatra Nilamani sahoo. This film is a masterstroke for its visual beauty, its colours and the virtuosity of his photography. Apart from showing the lushness and the serenity of the splendid natural setting which is the focus of the film. The theme of this film is unanimist in tone though without didacticism. At the edge of an Oriya village, in the countryside of breathtaking beauty two middle class families, one Brahmin and the other of a low caste. Both the families share the same dilapidated house divided into two.

Life there is serene, the children and the wives seem to get along well and the husbands are friends despite the differences, which separate them on different counts. Fore instance the member of the lower caste, an Oriya born and bred, is a poet and dreamer and the Brahmin, who does not know Oriya, as he is alien to the land. This serenity is on the verge of being destroyed one day when an old Brahmin woman whom they know instills discord by whispering to the Brahmin`s wife that she should not be clearing the common wastepipe because it belonged to the non-Brahmins as well. It is now the war of the two households who no longer talk to each other. The pipe is blocked and, in retaliation, the Brahmin bars the access for the neighbours to the well that is situated on his side.

The family of the lower caste gets ready to vacate the place but eventually it is the wisdom of the children that brings reconciliation between their parents and life resumes its course serenely as before between the two families.

This film is a masterstroke for its visual beauty, its colours and the virtuosity of his photography, Throws light on the issues of poverty and survival of a middle class family.

Bir was back with an Oriya film in 1997, ‘Shesha Drushti’  is an adaptation Ramchandra   Behera short story in same title . This Oriya film is considered to be his most accomplished film. Through this film Apurba Kishore Bir realised his ambition of finding the specific images of an audiovisual project. It is a spellbinding film of great sensitivity and aesthetically accomplished, whose slow pace does not make it dull, for words appear exactly when they are necessary to clarify the action. Set in the luxuriant countryside of Orissa is narration of the discovery of the world and its realities by the young Sangram. Guileless and still childlike, he is attached to his old widower father Kedar Babu The latter is a humanitarian Brahmin and an old anti-British freedom fighter crippled by injuries received during his political struggle but the father son duo shares a strong relationship, almost silent.‘Shesha Drushti’( The Last Vision) by Apurba Kishore Bir is one of the finest Indian films amplifying considerably on the thematic level the very beautiful first feature film of Bir. This particular also confirms the place of this director as one of the most accomplished composer of images of the country.

Most of the Oriya art films are made on a social backdrop and few of them draws their narratives from the psychology of women. In this phase, Susant Mishra’s “Indradhanu Ra Chhai”(1993) Chakradhar Sahu’s “Nila Mastrani”(1996) & Meemansha(2017) Bijay Ketan Mishra’s “Ahalya”(1997)Dolly Jena’s “Tara”(1991)Gouri Shakar Das and Malay Ray’s “Mokshya”(1995) and Himanshu Khatua’s “Kathantara”(2005) & ‘ Krantidhara’(2014) can be taken into consideration as remarkable pieces of work.

In “Indradhanu Ra Chhai”(1993)psychology of three generation women has been presented. One is the aged aunt Nila, second is the young widow Bijaya and the third is that of Sonia who dreams about a modern marital life. With the flow of time, some dreams are fulfilled and some shatters.Susant Mishra had the courage to make his debut feature film without melodramatic elements or an eventful story, In fact there is no story in this film.

The best part of the film is the end of the film, Music director Bikash Das pull off a magnificent composition using classical rags.it is blend of megha and miya mallar, the visual and ragas joins hands to culminate the film in a heart touching poetic note.

After “ Indra dhanura Chhai’Susant  Mishra’s Biswaprakash is a 1999 Odia-language Drama movie written by Debdas Chottray, The movie is directed by Sushant Mishra and produced by National Film Development Corporation Of India. Biswaprakash portrays in various shades of grey an intelligent young man caught in the contradictions of small-town life in the ancient Hindu religious centre of Puri. Located by the sea, Puri doubles as a tourist resort complete with many foreign visitors.

Biswaprakash portrays in various shades of grey an intelligent young man caught in the contradictions of small-town life in the ancient Hindu religious centre of Puri. Located by the sea, Puri doubles as a tourist resort complete with many foreign visitors. Biswaprakash for its narrative style, an engaging fusion of drama and documentary; its impressive formal and visual qualities; the mood of serenity that pervades its long duration; the performance of its principal player; and its strong, unapologetic desire to be culture-specific – to discuss characters and situations authentically in the context of a given society at a given point of time.

The suffocation in the soul and the limbs of a restless youth wanting to reach out to the world has been quietly and movingly realised. This is the kind of cinema that needs to be supported in a film world largely surrendered to the Philistinism of unrestrained sound and spectacle

Biswa has many questions and ambitions which lead him to a variety of experiences. One in particular is responsible for his coming of age. The film is about an individual quest riddled with disappointments, yet one lightened with a paradoxical sense of fulfillment. At another level, the film is about the ambivalent co-existence of tradition and modernity.

Director  Susant Mishra  confess  that “I consider cinema  as a strong inner journey  and very much releated to the self.I find lot of autobiographical elements in it(Biswaprakash)’,As far as style concerned ,I have been trying to define cinematography  through ‘exploring and  unfolding time  through space unfoldment’.i hate to repeat space. I feel it requires a lot of austerity to deal with narratives.  I am confident about my formal concerns and it reflects in my work. The rhythm of the film is its strongest feature”

Based on a story of famous novelist Prativa Ray, “Mokshya”(1995) depicts the hurdles and conflicts faced by the protagonist Soshi who shuttles between her own dreams and romantic aspirations and the values and ideas of her family.

Soshi may have got salvation as a symbol of virtue after her death, but the desires of a woman have been crushed under the value system of the society.

In the field of realistic cinema on women which draw maximum attention are Mr. Chakradhar Sahoo  directed “Nila Mastrani”(1996) Based on a story of  Godabarisha Mohapatra, “Nila Mastrani” can be categorized in a culture-specific framework, for it makes the brave attempt to put an axe over the tradition and questions the ideals of a convention driven society.

Another film of Chakradhar Sahu’s ‘ ‘Meemansha’(2016)  tried to maintain balance between  art house and commercial cinema was his last film. Based on true incident and which was an adoption of  Pradip Dash short story. Chakra Sahu who has focus on portraying strong female character in his film. The story is based on the lives of fishing communities thriving coastal belts of Odisha.  Meemansa depicts the life of Padma who has lost her fisherman husband  and how she tries to protect  her legally to her departed husband(Anant) while fighting against the cunning elements in the family and soceity.however when she is surrender to the societal pressure and exploitation her returns.

This is bring about the turning point of film. Present on the occasion the director of the movie Mr. Chakradhar Sahoo said, “The storyline of the film is unconventional and I couldn’t help but be spellbound by it. I would have regretted not making this film”. Expressing his views on the event that inspired the story line of Mimansa the writer of the movie Dr. Pradeep Dash said, “I was posted as Tehsildar in Balasore while writing the story of the movie. I couldn’t sleep for three days after I came to know about the incident, once I expressed myself on paper”.

Bijoy Ketan Mishra directed “Ahalya”(1997) doesn’t reflect revolt, but documents the silent pains and agonies.Yong girl “Ahalya”  whose husband dies on the day of the marriage , she has already  lost her father .A kind hearted uncle takes her  to his house assuring  tie mother that  the girl is in safe hands. But the movie opens with this girl, now an old maid running errands for everyone in the house hold.

She finds only one ray of light in the youngest son of the uncle’s family. But this light does not save her from social tortures like having to bathe  with 50 buckets of cold  water one winter evening for eating fish at the youngest son’s wedding. She lives like this till she gets her deliverance through death.This film is based on short story penned by Laxmipreya Acharya  which was published in ‘Sucharita’.

Like the Puranic character “Ahalya” too takes a silent mode to negotiate with life for survival. All throughout the film, Ahalya speaks only once, yet she is the lead character. That is the uniqueness of this film based on a story of  Laxmi Priya Acharya.

As per the director Bijoy Ketan Mishra ‘Ahalya resigns herself to her fate. Her character grows manifold as she leaves behind her past, only to surrender to the vagaries of elements. The nature brings salvation to the cursed Ahalya,if not in life, in death”

As the Eminent Film critic John W.Hood(Austrilia)comments ‘ The promishes  to be a work  on considerable polish and one which would represent  odia cinema abroad with great credit.   Mr.Mishra’s handling of a sensitive and important issue in Indian social and cultural development   is balanced, perceptive and actually intelligent’

Himanshu Khatua’s “Kathantara”( 2005) is made on the backdrop of the super cyclone in Orissa. Kalpana, a witness of the fury of the super cyclone meets a Bangladeshi journalist. Despite a touch of intimacy, Kalpana retains her attraction towards her homeland; she cuts the thread of aristocracy and desire and returns homeward. While watching the film, a viewer may recall “Manika” of Prasant Nanda’s “Sesha Sravana” fame and consider this character to be the next incarnation, yet Kalpana leaves an impression of being an influential and powerful character. The film is undoubtedly a successful representative of the portrayal of the chaotic and furious cyclone that took life away from Orissa. But, there is a mark of paucity in execution, if we take into consideration, Himanshu Khatua’s earlier film “Sunya Swaroopa” based on the Mahima religion in Orissa.

Himanshu’s latest release ‘Kranti dhara’(2014) depicts  story of women empowerment with Odia culture and its flaws and how the protagonist manages to overcome the age-old oppression by men. The film is an adaptation of Iti Samant’s book ‘Jhada Parara Surya’

A simple housewife’s world revolves around her family, which consists of her husband, parents-in-law and two children. She is coerced into politics by her sarpanch husband to contest an election and becomes a proxy-sarpanch after the government announces reservations for women in local bodies. Following her entry into politics, her life changes and so does the things around her,” said the director about the story. Though the film was made in 2014, it still reflects the problems of Indian society and the way women face problems in India. Despite attempts by governments to empower them, they still face problems within their families.

Dolly Jena’a “Tara”(1991) based on story by Bimal Dutt  reflects the intricacies of women psychology in a brilliant fashion. In the guise of Tantra practice, the female character has been subjected to her husband’s atrocities, forcing her to conclude that all the men have a chauvinistic attitude towards women. Men are more attracted towards women bodies than their hearts, whenever they get a chance; the animal within them gets excited to enjoy the female body. Film’ Tara’ is a sensitive study of a woman’s betrayal and disillusionment,

In Oriya parallel cinema, another significant direction is child psychology. In this frame, Apoorva Kishore Bir’s “Lavanya Preeti” and “Nandan”, Raju Mishra’s “Laxmi Ra Abhisara”(2001) Subash Das’s “A Akare AA”(2003) and Gadadhar Puty’s “Puja Pain Phula Tiye”(2006) can be taken into consideration.

Lavanya Preeti (1993) based on story ‘ Pratham Pranaya’ by Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo   is a traditional tale. It is a `film within film`, following the footsteps of the play within a play. The film illustrates the tale of adolescent love between Gauri and Kedar. The story ends in tragedy due to a misunderstanding concerning the death of a young girl.

‘ Nandan’ is a spirited, energetic 12 year old boy whose mischief constantly lands him in trouble with his parents. One day after seeing a toy car in a shop, he desperately wants it. He steals money from his father and goes to buy the toy. But while waiting for its delivery, he witnesses the manipulative, aggressive, deceptive and exploitative nature of the trading community. Events spiral out of hand and lands Nandan in a police station. Though sad and dejected by the turn of events, Nandan is enriched with a rare understanding, courage and conviction. A.K.Bir  is a sensitive filmmaker who has often depicted children trapped in a world of adults obsessed with materialism and lack of harmony.

‘Laxmi ra abhisara ‘(Laxmi’s visit to her loved one) is an Odia feature film directed by Raju Mishra,in the year 2001.The film is based on a short story with same title by the famous writer Manoj Das .It revolves round a sweet little girl who in her innocence is closer to God than all those who project themselves as great devotees.

‘Aw Aakare Aa’ has tried to express the pain and agony of children entrapped inside the four walls of our present education system. This fiction film is the story of a school teacher and her attempts to reform the system in vain. Refusing to compromise, she finally resigns and starts her own school to translate her ideas into reality.

Written, edited and directed by FTII, Pune alumnus Gadadhar Puty, POOJA PAEEN PHOOLATIE (A ROSE FOR POOJA) is designed as a classic from the very inception. And it targeted at an emotional appeal to adult and children alike. Simplicity and austerity is maintained throughout the film with a deep rooted spiritual base. This is not exactly a children’s film but it explores the world of children. It is the story of an extraordinary 12 year girl Pooja and her relationship with another girl of 5 years, Mickey

In the world of Oriya parallel cinema, another successful maker is Prafulla .Mohanty. Under the pseudonym “Upagupta”, Prafulla Mohanty gave direction to “Bhanga Silata” (Broken Slate) and created a quite a furore. Projecting the societal standard on one hand and the radical opposition to it on the other the Under film passively metes out an existential message for a niche audience.

Based on the renowned author Binapani Mohanty’s story, “Bhanga Silata”(1986) exposes quite a few of the prevailing trends in the contemporary society. Torture on women, child marriage, male dominance and all-pervasive society are few of the themes delicately dealt with in the film. Although the film entails both macro and micro analysis, the former is more resounding to the extent of allowing the movie to be interpreted more as a documentary

In the later time, he has given a cinematic shape and texture to Godabarish Mohapatra’s wide read story “Maguni Ra Sagada”(2002) With the flow of time and progress in civilization, how Sagada (bullock cart), the most important transport of yester years in the villages becomes a useless product, is the internal echo of this film.

Sabyasachi Mohapatra has added a new chapter in the history of Oriya parallel cinema with the making of artistically brilliant “Bhukha” in Sambalpuri language. The narrative flows with the lives of people from a performing community who plays different musical instruments, drums and trumpets. The leader of this community is Aintha who plays trumpet in marriages and thread ceremonies. The lead performer’s role has been essayed by famous national actor and director Sadhu Meher. After that, Sabyasachi has made a film called “Jhili” on the Paraja community of Koraput district in Orissa. Both the films didn’t do well commercially, but managed to grab appreciation at the national and international level.

After “Bhukha”(  1989)   & “Jhili”( 1996  )Sabyasachi’s Sala Budha (The Old Stupid Man) and Adim Vihchar (The Ancient Justice) got released in 2013 and 2014 respectively, they garnered rave reviews owing to their sensitive treatment of the indigenous life of Kondha community of Sambalpur, Odisha. In both the movies, Mohapatra’s Kondhas, belonging to a unique world of flora and fauna, become the representatives of their ethnic identities that boast of a primeval legacy of pagan culture and a close relationship with nature.

When Sala Budha, being a periodical movie dealing with a society functioning under royal authority, is made in black and white; its sequel Adim Vichar, a color movie, deals with a more contemporary rural setting that deals with serious concerns like illiteracy, superstitions, failing of family system and impact of modern civilization on these Kondhas. Sala Budha and its sequel Adim Vichar which along with staying true to its content designs a traditional narration of human proximity with nature and engulfs with grace the serenity and purity of that relationship. For the Tribal community of Sabyasachi’s visual conception, nature is the ultimate gift from the creator which is an elaborate; recently he has made“Salabudhara Badala”(2019) which is trilogy of ‘Sala Budha’.

Like Sala Budha and Aadim VicharSala Budha Ra Badla, too, is an adaptation of a story by the filmmaker’s father, Kapileswar Prasad Mohapatra. “My audience knows the story of Sala Budha. He was a simple and kind-hearted person who believed in God and was optimistic. He always said positive things, even in difficult situations, Sabyasachi Mohaptra  said. “In Sala Budha and Aadim Vichar, his character was very simple. But in my upcoming film, he will be seen in a different mood. This is the first time I have included an innocent love story in a film. There is a dispute regarding over the marriage of an innocent couple and a fight between two villages. In the movie, the viewers will see the revenge of Sala Budha and how revenge can be heart-breaking.” Another film of Sabyasachi Mohapatra is “PAHADA RA LUHA”(2015)( TEARS OF THE MOUNTAIN) is a timeless cinematic journey, shot originally twenty five years ago and revisited in the present with the same cast, characters and an intense social conflict.

‘JIanta Bhuta’(2008) movie has been produced by A.K. Parija, an oriya living in Muscat under Mitra Creative Arts banner. Veteran director Prashant Nanda is the story, screenplay, dialogues writer, editor and director of the film.The story of the film revolves around   a young girl from the tribe, Singari and boy Bangru  intend to get married by customary development. In  an  uncongenial  situation Bangru implicated in a court case by the Sahukar(Money Lender)he is put behind bar, meanwhile Singari gets new found sense of her body as her innocence gets destroyed and exploited.

Jianta Bhoota (The Living Ghost) depicts the plight of the Dongaria Kondh tribal of  Koraput region to  the Niyamgiri hills from being taken over for mining activities. This film is bright example of  the sensitive portrayal of innocence in the name of development.

The contemporary New Wave in Indian cinema is distinguishable from previous movements through several factors, the most relevant of which are the issues and themes it concerns itself with. Unlike in the past when India’s existence was a story of nation building, and thus the works of Avante Garde filmmakers were entirely socio-political in nature where the plot and characters served only as commentary on worldly matters concerning the Indian nation, today India is a nation that has made its mark on the global landscape and is now debating its identity. It is a relatively more affluent and secure state, and consequently the concerns of people have moved away from the world outside to the world inside—or perhaps it is a reflection of the egocentric times we live in, that matters concerning personal well being of the individual have taken precedence over well being of the state as overarching entity. It is the characters and their unique psychological issues that take the forefront in contemporary New Wave Indian films. Of course, the socio-political climate still plays an integral part, but as a backdrop. Recently few young director like Amartya Bhattacharya,Manas Sahoo, Sanjay Pattnaik ,Sambit Mohanty & Mihir Ranjan Acharya  has join their hands to promote odia new wave cinema in recent backdrop.

Directed by Amartya Bhattacharya; Capital I’ (2015) & Khyanikaa – The Lost Idea’(2017)  are two odia film.

Capital I’ revolves around a mysterious and unknown artist and depicts the transformation of a young girl’s mind whereby she finds herself trapped in between the attractions of a realistic relationship and a strange relationship with her hallucinatory lesbian partner, while Khyanikaa – The Lost Idea’ revolves around fantasy driven tale of two men, a poet and a painter, claiming possession over the same Idea, in a rural village portrayed as a wonderland. Idea is personified as a beautiful young lady, free of all bondages. Amartya has written, directed, shot and edited the film himself.

Khyanikaa – The Lost Idea’ depicts: The two men try to justify their claim over their Idea through their forms of art. Unable to settle the conflict, the two men approach ‘Fate’,personified as a big fat man of authority, to judge their claims. They soon realize that Idea is no one’s possession and it isn’t wise to rely on ‘Fate’ for a judgement. They decide to bury their ‘Fate’, and settle the matter in peace. Idea, portrayed as a free spirit, gets impressed by a kid who resides in an alternate world of fantasy, and decides to venture into the new creative world.The real world, with all its materialistic obsessions, rigid notions and prejudices, loses the Idea forever.

Manas Sahoo has wrapped up a film chronicling the struggles of a man from dealing with autism to becoming a successful writer.

The film – Antarleena – is the journal of an autistic person that portrays the struggles he face in life. “People with autism have to face a lot of struggles to lead a normal life such as acceptance from the society and the treatment meted out to them. Our attempt was to let people understand the inner world of an autistic person and encourage viewers to recognise them,” said Manas.

The protagonist Chintan Das is a popular writer, and his autobiography has become quite popular among young readers. Pihu, a 25-year-old woman and a former schoolmate of Chintan, is also a fan of his writings. The film proceeds with Pihu, reading Chintan’s autobiography and understanding the difficulties he has faced all through his life. Pihu realises that he does not want to have a social life and shies away from it as a result of the treatment he has received from people.

‘Suka  Asuchi’(2014)    Directed by Sanjay Pattnaik, , the movie  is made against the backdrop of the large-scale illegal mining scenario in the state and the issues of displacement. The film’s story urges the viewer to think about the illusory divide between the rich and the poor, and the invisible conflict among the poor who suffer endlessly.

Sambit Mohanty’s “Hello Arsi’(2017)  is a film that falls into the category of ‘road movies’ and is set against the backdrop of industrialisation and land acquisition in the name of development. Shot evocatively by Prasantanu Mohapatra in and around Rourkela on a deserted highway, the film wears a sparse, minimalist look that may take a little time to sink in, but once it does, one is captivated by the beauty of its images which contrasts with the theme of the film that emerges gradually as the film proceeds with its languid pace – that of desolation and ennui in the face of development.

It’s a kind of style which is quite alien to Indian cinematic traditions, and therein lies its uniqueness. It holds a mirror to the audience – Arsi in Odia means mirror – that reflects the contradictions of a society in transition and its effect on characters without them realizing it or being apparently perturbed by it – but is that really so?

The film derives much of its strength through such ambiguities. The passing landscape seen from inside the car provides a kind of visual metaphor that acts as a counterpoint to the ‘drama’ inside and portends a future which despite all its claims of development, seems to be uncertain and problematic. That way, it is an intensely political film without being overt.

Film “PHERIAA Come Back”.by  Mihir Ranjan Acharya’s depicts issues of superstition and witchcraft which is prevalent in tribal parts of Odisha. Odisha is second largest affected state after Jahrkhand which suffers from witchcraft crimes. Women are killed being branded as witches. People go for treatment to quacks or Gunias . There the Gunia brand children with hot iron. All these issues appear in the film as its story moves.

Development is not only Government’s responsibility. People can include themselves in the process of development. It will make the process faster. Prakash the protagonist thinks so. He becomes a harbinger of development in his village.

As per the director’ Mihir Ranjan Acharya “ Last and not least  you will find a book in this film repeatedly. That book is E-M Foster’s Where Angles fear to Tread. Focus was not the book but its title. The real proverb is Fools rushed in where angels fear to tread. It is my approach to my audience. Many great persons have tried to make movies of their dream, sometimes people have rejected them. Audience never care in what condition, in what budget, in what toil and trouble a film has been made. They may reject it in a clique. Like a fool I have rushed into making a film’’

If judged at a larger level, the success of Oriya New wave cinema of the 80’s has got a stoppage in the present time. The first and the foremost reason behind it is the lack of governmental interest and patronage. In the past, many successful art movies were made with the monetary assistance of either the National Film Development Corporation or Orissa Film   Development Corporation. Now, the Orissa Film Development Corporation   has become defunct. Other than that, two three film societies which are still running, prefer foreign films for organizing film festivals, and have never given a serious thought to take Oriya parallel cinema into account. Moreover, theatre halls, which play a significant role in taking an art film to the wider audience’s viewership has failed to do it. Another weak point of the Oriya parallel cinema is the limitation of theatrical release, for which the common audience never gets an opportunity to know about them. Has the Orissa government ever given it a serious thought to proceed further in a constructive way, to lend a helping hand?

The new wave  cinema movement – identified with film makers like Manohan Mahapatra Biplab Raychoudhary,Nirad Mahapatra  &A.K .Bir  is fast losing ground. Rising costs, bored viewers and TV and video threaten to wipe out serious cinema. Like an extended dissolve at the end of a mildly absorbing film, the new cinema movement in India is gradually fading out from screens across the country. Producers are no longer willing to finance good, small-budget films.Distributors and exhibitors are more than ever reluctant to risk showing films by even the established ‘new wave’ directors.

The film makers themselves are being lured increasingly by the seductive power of television. And accomplished actors and actresses are once again in search of good roles. After more than two decades of controversy and promise, the alternative cinema movement appears to have reached a blind turn, if not the end of the road, uncertain about what to expect in the future.

References:

Ray, Satyajit, ‘An IndianNewWave?’ Filmfare (8 October1971)(republished in    Our Films,TheirFilms, New Delhi:OrientBlackswan,2009,81–99).

The Odishan:Journal of IPROCH,Newdelhi:Celebrating 75 years of odia cinema:2011

Indian Literature and Popular Cinema: Recasting Classics, New York: Routledge Heidegger, Marstin (1972)

Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader, New York: Columbia   University Press. Veeser, H. Aram (ed) (1989)

Indian cinema: T he Indian Panorama-1999: Directorate of Film festival;Newdelhi

‘The Essential Mystery’- John Hood : New Delhi:OrientBlackswan,

Bhaskar Chandavarkar, 1980, ‘The Man Who Went Beyond Stop’ in Cinema Vision India Vol. 1 No. 4, October.

Georgekutty, 1988, ‘A Legitimisation Crisis?’ in Deep Focus Vol. 1 No. 2, June.

Ashish Rajadhayaksha and Paul Willemen, 1999. Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema, BFI.

Bibekananda Ray, 1988. The New Generation in ‘Other’ Cinema, in Cinema India International, 1988/1.

Speaking of Films:satyajit Ray:Penguinbooks india:2005 April 1976.

FATHER OF ODIA NEW WAVE CINEMA – Odisha News Times www.odishanewstimes.com

Odia Cinema My next film explores generation clash: Manmohan Mahaptra Times of India Updated: Jan 11, 2017, 19:01 IST

Kalindi Charan Panigrahi:Madhusudan Pati(Sahitya Akademi) Makers of Indian literature:2001(Matira Manisha)

About the Author : 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.

Copyright by www.odishanewstimes.com: All rights are reserved by author. No part of this article may  be reproduced, stored  in or introduced into  a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means(electronic,photocopying, recording or otherwise)  without  the prior  written permission above  mentioned  web  portal owner.

 

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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