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Odia Cinema in Indian Panorama :From” Seeta Rati” to” Pratikshya’

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Ashok Palit 

Indian Panorama is a flagship component of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), under which the best contemporary Indian films are selected for the promotion of film art. It was introduced in 1978 as part of the stupendous IFFI umbrella to promote Indian Films along with India’s rich culture and heritage with the help of cinematic art. Since its inception, the Indian Panorama has been completely devoted to showcasing the best Indian films of the year. Organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the primary aim of the Indian Panorama is to select the feature and non-feature films of cinematic, thematic and aesthetic excellence for the promotion of film art through the non-profit screening of these films under different categories

Since its inception, only 19 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.

This year Odia filmmaker Anupam Patnaik’s movie ‘Pratikshya’, inspired by a short story by eminent writer Gaurahari Das has been selected to be screened at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Pratikshya’ is an Amiya Patnaik production. The movie stars Dipanwit Dashmohapatra, Choudhury Jayprakash Das, Barsha Patnaik, Sreela Tripathy, Roopambika Nayak, Susil Mishra, Abakash Mishra and Sidhant Mohapatra. The screenplay and dialogues of the upcoming movie is written by Roshan Bisoi. Deepak Kumar is the cinematographer while credits for editing go to late Deven Mishra. The music and background score of the movie is helmed by Ankesh-Ashish. Durga Madhab Panda and Priyaranjan Sahoo have penned the lyrics. Popular singers Ashish Pradhan, Humane Sagar, Biswajit Mahapatra and Bivash Rath will lend voices to several songs for this movie. ‘Pratikshya’ narrates the life of an unemployed graduate who struggles with the dilemma of securing a government job to save his family after they meet with a medical crisis. It’s quite a relatable and emotional film and has the essence of Bhubaneswar.

Nila Madhab Panda’s first Odia film, ‘Kalira Atita’ (‘Yesterday’s Past’) was selected in  Panorama section of 51st IFFI. The film stars Pitobash Tripathy in the lead cast. Kalira Atita’   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 JhadaKlanta Aparanha, and Majhi Pahacha were selected for screening at the Indian panorama.

The love story, minus the mists and warmth, “Sita Rati” was jointly scripted by novelist Bibhuti Patnaik and Mahapatra. Pranab, the wealthy scion is in love with Aruna, belonging to the economically lower class. Pranab’s father would not let his son falter and it would take Aruna time to realise that the pillar of demarcation is not just the wealth, but also a mentality that has grown rigid with its acquisition. Pranab falls to circumstances, Aruna to realisations. This realisation that poverty is a curse to living and impediment to even imagine love, is as bitter, as trenchant as a cold winter night

“Neeraba Jhada” (“The Silent Storm”), is a beautiful, grueling film about a peasant’s brave stand against a greedy landlord’s determination to grab the peasant’s holdings, the last bit of property in the region not in his possession. This is as uncompromising a film imaginable about a people mired in virtual slavery, upheld by ignorance, superstition and tradition, yet it also is a tribute to humanity’s strength to endure and even to hope, The silent storm will break. its resonance will sweep away the dust of a decaying system and make a place for a new generation whose dreams will be their reality

In 1984 Maya Miriga directed by Nirad Mahapatra and Dhare Allua directed by Sagir Ahamed was 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 writers Satakadi Hota and Nirbachana presented a stunningly controlled and uniquely cinematic metaphor of rural India.

In 1992, 1997, and 1998 Adi MimanshaLavanya 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. produced by Prabhat Ranjan Mallik, and starring Siddhanta Mahapatra, Sunil Kumar, and Yukta Inderlal Mookhey. The film focuses on the implications for the young mass adopting Maoist insurgency and their sustained alienation from the mainstream as a result. Geo-strategic importance of changing the minds of young people adopting terrorism through love and affection. The film traces the crisis from social trauma to an unfair state system encouraging Mao-Naxal insurgency in Orissa.

SabyasachiMohapatra’s films ‘Sala Budha’ and ‘Adim Bichar’, respectively, had been selected for Indian Panorama 2013 and 2014. ‘SALA BUDHA’ is 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, Adim Vichar’ was a sequel to ‘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 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, 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. 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

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About Editor in chief

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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