Newdelhi:17/9/23:Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s elder sister and eminent writer-filmmaker Gita Mehta passed away on Saturday evening in Delhi at the age of 80. Her husband Sonny Mehta passed away in 2019. They are survived by their only son, Aditya.
Daughter of legendary Biju Patnaik and eminent author, documentary filmmaker, and journalist Geeta Mehta happens to be the elder sister of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. She had married renowned American publisher late Sonny Mehta.
Mehta is internationally renowned as a prominent writer. Her book ‘Karma Cola’ was published in 1979, while her story collection ‘A River Sutra’ was published in 1993. She had penned three books ‘Raj’, ‘Eternal Ganesh’, and ‘Snake and Ladders’. Her books have been translated into 21 languages.
Born in 1943 to Biju and Gyan Patnaik, Gita’s schooling took place in New Delhi. Later, she completed her graduation from Bombay Sophia College, a prestigious women’s college in the country. She went abroad and studied at Cambridge University. From there, she worked for a few days as an English lecturer at Bombay University.
Gita married her classmate in Cambridge Sonny Mehta in 1965. They first lived in London and then moved to New York. There, she joined Sonny Mehta as the head of one of the world’s largest publishing houses, Alfred A. Nuf.
Before writing books, she was involved in making various television documentaries in London and other European countries. About 14 documentaries were produced under her sponsorship and direction. She also worked as a TV journalist from 1970 to 1971. She worked as a war correspondent for NBC Network Television in the United States.
She made a movie about the Bangladesh Revolution, ‘Dateline Bangladesh’. It was shown in India and other foreign countries. In 2019, the Indian government announced to honour her with ‘Padma Shri’ but she respectfully declined it. She has been felicitated with many honours.
Gita Mehta was very fond of Biju Babu. Biju Babu loved her more among the three brothers and sisters. Gita loved her younger brother Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, more. She regularly used to visit Bhubaneswar and stay with her brother at Naveen Niwas for a few days.
When Naveen Patnaik was sworn in as Chief Minister, she also attended the swearing-in ceremony twice. She has visited Odisha many times with her husband Sonny and son Aditya.
According to some senior journalists, after the marriage of Gita Mehta, Biju Babu organised a wedding party at their residence. At that party, the country’s famous Shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan performed. Later, Ustad Bismillah Khan was honoured with India’s highest civilian honour of the year, ‘Bharat Ratna.
Gita herself has written that at the time of her birth, the freedom movement was burning in the country. Her father, Biju Patnaik, gave her the name ‘Geet’ or Geeta to always remember that time of freedom struggle. After marriage, she lived first in London and then in New York. She had been ill for a few days and passed away late on Saturday evening.