Ollywood Legend Bijaya Mohanty – Interview

Bijaya Mohanty - Oriya SuperStar

Bijaya Mohanty - Oriya SuperStar

Bijaya Mohanty has been the most identifiable film personality in Orissa’s collective psyche. He has played diverse roles in more than 180 films he has acted in Oriya, Bengali, Hindi and Telegu.

Three films where ha has acted, have bagged the prestigious National Awards. Personally he has won State Film Awards seven times and a National Award for contribution to art and literature. This year marks the 25th year of this thespian’s uninterrupted run on home turf.

BIJAYA MOHANTY takes time out to converse with SASWAT PATTANAYAK about his life and times.


This successful life of a Star has been a result of an inspiration, a series planned efforts or mere circumstantial decisions?

I have never planned out a life. When I stepped on the stage to play a drama character role during Class X, it was a spontaneous decision. From Class X till BA classes, I had acted in several plays. Incidentally, Baripada, those days used to encourage whoever wanting to exhibit talent.

And when I joined National School of Drama, the credit goes to Prasanna Mohanty, a senior from National School of Drama who saw me on stages, appreciated my talent and wanted me at NSD.

So I think, I have neither sought inspirations, nor have I made any calculated moves. Environment has been the driving force.

How did you stumble upon Ollywood? Was Ollywood a necessary follow-up after NSD?

Like everything else, Ollywood merely ‘happened’ to me. At NSD, my classmates Nasseruddin, Raj Babbar, Om Puri etc turned for Bollywood and urged me to accompany. I said, as an Oriya I would come back to Orissa, rather Baripada, since, now let me confess, I had not stepped out of Baripada till I had left for NSD!

In 1975, I left Delhi, where I had cultivated considerable amount of experiences in theatres, thanks to NSD’s specialisation offer those days.

Back home, I was directing many plays and also conducted a short term theatre training course for Orissa Government.

But when disillusionment about career prospects made me restless here and I was about to leave Orissa for good, something better happened. At the bus stand itself, a telegram arrived for me which said, “Come for shooting: Babu Bhai”. I had not seen either the venue for shooting, Ranihat, Cuttack or this Babu Bhai, who I found out was Dr Basant Mohapatra.He had heard about me having passed from NSD and wanted me to act as the protagonist in his production “Sankalpa”, which was directed by Prafulla Mohanty. After 12 days, its shooting ended abruptly.

Then I came to Bhubaneswar and met the then Sangeet Natak Akademy secretary Manoranjan Das, whose dramas I had directed earlier. He asked me whether to become the first teacher in the drama department that the institute was going to open shortly. I was as undecided as he was adamant to have me there. I gave in to a satisfying teaching profession.

How did the first film come your way?

This also happened incidentally. Lyricist Satyabrata Das felt it apt to inform me that director Biplab Rai Choudhury was waiting for me at Chilika along with the entire crew. I rushed there to be welcomed into the team of “Chilika Tire”, which also bagged National Award later.

Has the actor in you ever got satisfied with life?

Not entirely. The moment I would feel contented, there would not be scopes for improvements. Water has value only for the thirsty. The good news is I always maintain a drive to attain higher satisfaction.

Is lack of originality an overriding influence on Oriya filmmaking?

I advocate the fantastical aspect of movies that do not necessarily touch reality. After all, we were all great fans of grandmother’s tale, and her tales were neither original nor had a touch with reality. So why should not audience want to experience dreams and enjoy an illusory world inside the cinema halls too.

Yes, mental lethargy has set in here in Orissa among filmmakers. Innovations are rare and original stories are rarer still.

Why has the recent Oriya music scenario not made a worthwhile mark?

Budding talents are here, but they do not quite go out of their way to learn their trade well enough, before jumping into the fray. So what results is a half-baked produce.

Secondly, we have achieved classical status only for the Odissi dance, not even Odissi music, which in other words means, culture-rich Orissa does not have a classical music to its credit.

Thirdly, I am personally against the Mumabi singers being entertained by producers here in order to flaunt big names. Only today, one Oriya event manager was boasting how he has struck a bargain with a Mumbai singer, who would be paid Rs 12 lakh only for coming to Orissa, six lakh less than the quoted fee. And all of us know, we refuse a mere Rs 5,000 to our homegrown talented singers.

So, what is the biggest single folly Ollywood commits repeatedly?

I think the comparison that our audience and filmmakers make with Bollywood, is the biggest foolhardiness we can display. Facts are that we make extremely low budget movies according to our economic capabilities and so, our technical manifestations on big screen is nowhere with Bollywood. Second, our target audience is different. We have to cater to all segments of public, our loyal rural fans and the unique culture prevailing in Orissa. Once, we realise these small dynamics, I think, comparisons would end.

Do you think films should guide the popular conscience or is it the other way round?

I think a wise amalgamation of both is required in order that a striking balance is done. And this is pertinent for Oriya filmmakers who most of the time, try to impose only what they feel is good or bad, without taking the popular opinions into consideration.

Being the ex-principal of the largest institute of its sorts in Asia and now a reader, do you think, institutionalised education is a pre-requisite for one to become a good artist?

I think, formal education is required, unless of course, if you have a tradition of artists in your family. Talent should be reinforced through formal education. However, no institution makes anyone an artist. It only paves the way for an artist.

What do you think is the greatest achievement for an artist?

Ans: I think, the fulfilment of a purpose with which an artist begins his/her career is the achievement in his/her life. It can be making money, being popular, being recognised or winning awards.

What message you would give to young aspirants?

I would say there is scope for getting discouraged in film industry. But there is even bigger scope for creating one’s own identity,  which requires tremendous dedication and sacrifice. Prepare yourself thoroughly well to take on the world and I am sure, Time, will do the rest.

Interview also published in Hindustan Times


Subash Das – Legend of Oriya Music

Subash Das with his devinely gifted voice rendered in variety of songs including non-oriya songs. He appeared first time in 1980 in Film Manashi as a playback singer and later in Sati Anusuya in 1981 under the music direction of Prafulla Kar. It was the song “Kuhu Kuhu Bane Kuhu Kuhu” with Vani Jayram which put him on the top of the all singers of his generation. After which he never looked back and created a most versatile niche for himself in playback oriya singing for oriya films as well as in Bengali, Bhojpuri and Kannad films. He has rendered voice more than 500 Oriya Albums and also performed abroad in countries like USA and Canada to the oriya communities. His melodious voice always being heard from AIR and Doordarshan as an public demand. He is truely a gift of God to the Oriya Music Industry.

Born on 19th May 1960, inspired by his uncle Paramananda Das, he learnt music from Guru Mulalidhar Giri, Deepak Basu and Pandit J.V.S Rao. He appread as a All India Radio Artist and in Doordarshan Kendra in 1977 and 1982 respectively. He has rendered almost in 87 Oriya Films, 2 Bengali Films and One each in Kannada and Bhojpuri films.

Currently residing in Cuttack and continuing his music recording along with her wife Subhalaxmi Das ( another professional playback singer) . He is considered the most active and dynamic artist of current generation.

Chhau Dance of Mayurbhanj – Oriya

Chhau Dance of Mayurbhanj

In the back drop of Rofty Similipal Forest with gorgeous waterfalls, winding rivers, huge summits and lush green valleys, the district of Mayurbhanj unfolds a vast panorama of nature’s beauty. Amid the surroundings evolved a beautiful yet virile dance form, known as famous CHHAU DANCE.

The fame of Mayurbhanj Chhau has crossed geographical limitations and has claimed world wide fans for its beauty, vigour and marvel of the art. Though Chhau is famous not only in India but World over the origin of word Chhau is yet in mystery.

Chhau is believed to have found its origin from “Chhaya” the shadow. But the Chhau performers of Purulia use Mask while dancing and that mask is told as “Chhau”. Perhaps Chhau Dance might have derived its name from that mask,the Chhau. Some chhau pundits opine the Chhau has got its name from “Chhaushree”.

Inarguably, the word chhau has been derived from the word ‘CHHAUNI’ the camp camped at the time of military operation. The folks say that chhau was performed to entertain the Oriya warriors inside the camp and has spread now knowing no boundaries.

Music of Orissa

Orissa ia a state of India, one of the musical centers of the South Asia. Travelling bards are a historic part of the country’s heritage. In the 11th century, Odissi folk music was codified into a classical style, related to other styles of Indian classical music. Though it has been claimed that the Odissi tradition was a separate style of classical music, it is more commonly said to be a kind of Hindustani music.

Like Hindustani and Carnatic systems, Odissi music is a separate system of Indian classical music and is having all the essential as well as potential ingredients of Indian Classical form. But it has not come to limelight due to apathy from the time of British rule in Orissa, want of its proper study, revival, propagation, etc. Despite the fact, the traditional music form could be saved and maintained in its pristine form. Thanks to the musicians particularly of Jaga Akhadas of Puri district, who could develop and maintain the music. The music movement of Orissa, however, took a different turn after independence.

Like other aspects of her culture, music of the sacred land (Orissa) is charming, colourful, variegated encompassing various types. The existing musical tradition of Orissa, the cumulative experience of the last two thousand five hundred years if not more, can broadly be grouped under five categories such as : (1) Tribal Music, (2) Folk Music, (3) Light Music, (4) Light-Classical Music, (5) Classical Music, which need a short elucidations for better understanding the subject in all India context.

The tribal music as the title signifies is confined to the tribals living mainly in the hilly and jungle regions and sparsely in the coastal belt of Orissa. It is interesting to note that Orissa has the third largest concentration of tribes constituting about one fourth of the total population. They are distributed over 62 tribal communities.

Orissa is the treasure house of Folk Songs which are sung on different festivals and specific occasions in their own enjoyment. Folk music in general is the expression of the ethos and mores of the folk communities. Of the bewildering variety of folk music of Orissa, mention may be made of Geeta, Balipuja Geeta, Kela Keluni Geeta, Dalkhai Geeta, Kendra Geeta, Jaiphula Geeta, Ghumura Geeta, Ghoda Nacha and Danda Nacha Geeta, Gopal Ugala and Osa-Parva-Geeta etc.

Bhajan, Janan, Oriya songs based on ragas, Rangila Chaupadi etc. are grouped under Light classical music, which forms an important segment of Orissan music. Sri Geetagovinda, Anirjukta Pravadha, Divya Manusi Prabandha, Chautisa, Chhanda, Chaupadi (now known as Odissi), Champu, Malasri, Sariman, Vyanjani, Chaturang, Tribhang, Kuduka Geeta, Laxana and Swaramalika are the various sub-forms, which individually or collectively constitute the traditional Odissi music. These sub-forms of the traditional Odissi music, can be categorised under the classical music of Orissa.