By Ashok Palit
International Film Festival of India better known as IFFI, is among the oldest film festivals in the Asian continent. Beginning in 1952, the festival has acted as a platform for the popularisation of Indian cinema to a global audience while acting as an introduction of sorts for foreign films to Indian cinephiles spread over selected cities. In 1978 for the first time, regional cinema entered the festival. Since its inception, only 18 Odia films have been selected in the Indian panorama section. Here are some of the Odia entries that have, over the years, found a pride of place in the Indian panorama to date.
Nila Madhab Panda’s first Odia film, ‘Kalira Atita’ (‘Yesterday’s Past’) has been selected to be screened at the Panorama section at 51st IFFI, which is scheduled for next month. The film, starring Pitobash Tripathy, is a story of the struggle between man and sea, highlighting the issue of seawater ingression.
Gunu(Pitobash Tripathy) a disillusioned young man from Satavaya village, travels restlessly towards death, memories of a past cyclone propelling him into the eye of one that his coming. Hoping to reunite with his lost family, he returns to his village, five days before the cyclone, to find that it is now underwater. Gunu’s struggle to survive the fury of nature is a portrayal of emotional trauma and human triumph.
Seeta Rati was the first Odia film to be selected for Indian Panorama in 1983 directed by Manmohan Mahapatra. This debut venture of Mahapatra was the first new wave Odia movie. After that in 1985, 1986, and 1988 Manmohan Mahapatra’s three movies Nirab Jhada, Klanta Aparanha, and Majhi Pahacha were selected for screening at the Indian panorama. In 1984 Maya Miriga directed by Nirad Mahapatra and Dhare Allua directed by Sagir Ahamed were also selected.
While Nirad Mahapatra’s Maya Miriga (The Mirage) revolved around the clash between the past, present, and future, parents and children, men and women, the traditional and the modern, Dhare Alua (A Ray of Light) was based on a story by Manorama Das. In 1995 and 1996 Aranya Rodan and Nirbachan, both directed by Late Biplab Ray Choudhary were selected for Indian Panorama. Aranya Rodana concentrated on the story of a hardworking lady journalist surviving in a tribal-dominated place based on the novel Ashanta Aranya by Odia writer Satakadi Hota and Nirbachana presented a stunningly controlled and uniquely cinematic metaphor of rural India.
In 1992, 1997, and 1998 Adi Mimansha, Lavanya Preeti, and Sesha Drusti directed by Mumbai-based cameraman-cum-director Apoorva Kishore Bir were selected for the festival. While NFDC produced Adi Mimansha threw light on the issues of poverty and survival of a middle-class family, Sesha Drusti effectively portrayed two generations trapped in a web -one that can’t break away from its past, the other that tries to deal with a present with no future. LavanyaPreeti deals with subtle and delicate exposition of the growing up process from childhood to adolescence through the use of myths and striking visuals.
In 1999 Bijoy Ketan Mishra’s Ahalya was selected for Indian panorama. Mishra’s maiden directional effort Ahalya (The Words of Silence) depicted the mute suffering of a hapless woman, widowed in her childhood. In 2000 Biswaprakash directed by Susant Mishra was selected. Biswaprakash, a young man in his early 20s was a rebel revolting constantly against the obscure traditional lifestyle of his family rooted deeply in the medieval socio-religious mores.
In the world of Odia parallel cinema, another successful filmmaker is Prafulla Mohanty, who has given a cinematic shape and texture to Godabarish Mohapatra’s widely read story Maguni Ra Sagada. With the flow of time and progress in civilization, how Sagada (bullock cart), the most important transport of yesteryears in the villages becomes a useless product. This was echoed in the film which was selected for Indian panorama for the year 2002.
In 2010 Swayamsiddha directed by Sudhanshu Sahu also got an entry into the Indian Panorama. The film focused on the implications of the young mass adopting to Maoist insurgency and their sustained alienation from the mainstream. SabyasachiMohapatra’s films ‘Sala Budha’ and ‘Adim Bichar’, respectively, had been selected for Indian Panorama 2013 and 2014. ‘SALA BUDHA’ made in Kosali language and it focuses on the rural area. The film directed by Sabyasachi Mohapatra is based on a novel written by Kapil Prasad Mohapatra (the director’s father) ‘Adim Vichar’ is his second entry in a row for the coveted category after 2013 ‘Sala Budha’,Adim Vichar’, a sequel of ‘Sala Budha’, is based on the lives of the tribal people of Odisha. The protagonist of the film is an 80-year-old Kondh man. ‘Adim Vichar’, which is in the Sambalpuri dialect spoken in the western Odisha, is one of the 26 feature films selected for the Indian Panorama category. The film shows that despite difficulties in life, the old man does not lose his cool and sticks to his principles, The message is that senior citizens are storehouses of knowledge and our traditional value system
” Khyanikaa’’ – The Lost Idea, directed by Amartya Bhattacharyya, only Odia film that has been officially selected into the coveted Indian Panorama section of the prestigious 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) which was held at Goa from 20th to 28th November 2017. The film has been produced by Swastik Choudhury under the independent banner – Swastik Arthouse. It is the same team which had earlier made the critically acclaimed Odia feature film ‘Capital I’ in 2014. The film is a 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. The idea is personified as a beautiful young lady, free of all bondage.The two men try to justify their claim over their Idea through their forms of art.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Ashok Palit is a noted film critic based in Bhubaneswar, who has extensively written on various aspects of Odia Cinema in various local journals (formerly, the Editor of Film Monthly Cine Samaya) as well as in Asian Age, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Times of India, The Pioneer, and Screen. An award-winning senior journalist, Mr. Palit has also been the President of Orissa Film and Media Association, Secretary of Bhubaneswar Film Circle (a premier film society of the state), He was awarded a Senior Fellowship from the Culture Department, Govt of India to research on Role of Odia Literature in Odia cinema in the year 2009-2010