Sambeet Dash

We just passed the 5th death Anniversary of the renowned Odia Filmmaker Nirad Mohapatra. He passed away on 19th February, 2015. Hope his Award winning Odia movie MAYA MIRIGA (The Illusory Deer) from 1980s rings a bell.

I remember watching it one summer afternoon on Doordarshan in 1987, the only TV channel available in India. The story revolves around a boy from a typical Odia middle class family who qualifies for IAS, the most cherished job in Odisha of our generation and the generation before.

Nirad Mohapatra filmmaker
The boy’s success instantly puts him on a pedestal, catapulting him as the most sought after bachelor. He ends up marrying a girl from the upper strata of society.

The newlywed bride from the elite family could not fit the middle class milieu. She does not like her husband sharing the same razor with his bothers, not unusual in middle class families those days when privacy and individualism hadn’t percolated into society. Though the down to earth boy has become a HAKIMA (big officer) he hasn’t been able to get rid of some of his old habits which is detested by his wife as unhygienic and nonelitist.

A very symbolic movie. A classic depiction of the dilemma in a middle class Odia family due to the sudden change of status in one of it’s members. Like a trapeze artist, the guy struggles to play a balancing act between his wife and the rest of the family, ending up in pleasing nobody.

sita ratiThose were the Golden days of Odia cinema. Every other year Odisha used to produce many award winning movies. CHILIKA TEERE (On the banks of Lake Chilka), SEETA RAATI (Winter Night), NEERABA JHADA (Silent Storm not Silent Shit) to name a few. It did not take long for those movies to be shown on National TV as they perform poorly in box office.

I bought couple of newly released DVDs of Odia movies from my last trip to India. They were laced with plenty of Hindi dialogues and copycat scenes from South Indian movies with voluptuous women gyrating their hips, speaks volumes about the state of affairs about the current status of Ollywood movie industry. There was hardly anything originally Odia about them. It was difficult for me to watch them beyond 30 minutes. I threw them into trash, where they rightly belong.

RIP Sri Nirad Mohapatra, you were one of the last of the originals. May your tribe flourish in a state which is fast losing its language and cultural heritage.

(Sambeet Dash is an Odia technocrat living in Georgia ,US)