Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak
THE TELEVISION NEWS INDUSTRY IN ODISHA HAS GONE THROUGH A PROGRESSIVE JOURNEY IN THE PAST TWO DECADES. IN THIS SERIES DR. FAKIRA MOHAN NAHAK PRESENTS THE MEDIA HISTORY BLENDED WITH HIS CLOSE OBSERVATION ON THE FAST-CHANGING INDUSTRY.
Many people in public life or in various positions influence the common people. They are being considered as role models. Everyone loves to know more about their role model. Similarly, if someone achieves success and becomes the centre of discussion overnight, it is natural for the common man to be curious to know more about the personality. Many people know a lot about the public life and a little about their personal life of the influencers or the role models. So such people are news makers. Bringing them into the studio and interviewing them exclusively is definitely a step towards gaining a wider audience for the news channels.
Besides, television interviews are often a boon for the editorial team and current affairs team running the channel. Because making a five minute story about a famous public figure is one of the toughest tasks. But through interviews, programs are developed that ultimately help a lot in proper time management and creating a unique identity for the respective channels.
After the advent of ETV Odia as an infotainment channel, two interview-based programs –“Nepathya Nayak” and“ Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti ” were launched in its entertainment segment in the early stages. Atasi Parichha Patnaik took charge of Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti programs while PranayJethi was preparing Nepathya Nayak. Originally both of the programs were more into the interview of stalwarts of cinema and other related fields.
However, in May 2004, after the general elections in the country and the state assembly elections in Odisha were over, the news team of ETV Odia decided to do an interview-based program. It was broadcast once a week, and was called Sidhakatha (The Straight Talk). It was started by Sisir Kumar Bhattamishra, the then in charge of the Bhubaneswar Bureau of the channel.
The first guest of the program was famous Psychologist Dr. J. P. Das. The idea of such a program on television was received with great joy by the audience. In the later phases, the program was presented by Debaprasad Dash and Senior Journalist late Chandrabhanu Patnaik.
Many dignitaries and successful personalities of the state participated in the program as guests. Be it the first servant of Lord Sri Jagannath, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingh Dev, or King Kansa of the world famous Dhanu Yatra of Bargarh, or the famous novelist Barrister Gobinda Das, be it the eminent Odissi music Guru Suramani Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, or the popular Odia film actor of yesteryear, Hemanta Das, the famous villain of Odia Jatra industry Daitari Panda or the Chanakya of the then Odisha politics late Pyarimohan Mohapatra, the then minister Pramila Mallik or actress Dolly Jena, everyone has come to the studio of ETV for the talk show. They have become news makers at different times and on different issues. And the audience is very interested to hear them. People who have achieved excellence or reached the pinnacle of success mainly in the fields of politics, administration, art, literature and culture were invited as special guests. Not only that, those who were in the limelight in all these fields were also invited and interviewed for these programs.
There were many important revelations while shooting in the studio during the show. For example barrister Gobinda Das admitted that the popular character “Kaul” in the novel “Amavasyara Chandra” is none other than himself. Similarly, it was in the program that the truth about the multi-crore dal scam came out and subsequently the then Women and Child Development Minister of Govt of Odisha, Pramila Mallik lost her ministerial post.
The program has been running for more than eighteen years and has been presented by different presenters at different times. After the conversion of ETV Odia channel to Colors Odia, the news division was rebranded as ETV News Odia under the auspices of News 18 Network. After the channel started broadcasting on 4 May 2015, the then editor Nilambar Rath presented the talk show Sidhakatha. Later, Satyaprakash Nayak, Bhakta Tripathi and Sharat Paikaray also presented the program. However, ETV News Odia has once again been changed to News-18 Odia. However, the program still continues to be on air under the same name and young and dynamic journalist Thabir Samal now presents it.
Accordingly, after OTV launched itself as a satellite channel in December 2006, it launched the interview-based program “Khola Katha”(The Open Talk) in 2007. The then editor Dayanidhi Das was the first presenter of the program. Prashant Nanda, a prominent Odia cine star, director, producer and politician, was the guest in the first episode. Later, the program was presented by Manoranjan Mishra, Satyajit Mishra, Bhabani Shankar Mahapatra. But for the last five years, it has been hosted by Manoranjan Joshi. Politicians, Writers, Poets, Musicians, Singers, Educationists, Administrators, health experts, farm leaders, football players, hockey stars, social workers and women and men who have carved a niche for themselves in various fields have been invited as guests and interviewed in this program.
From the former administrator of the Srimandir, Rabindra Narayan Mishra, to the former minister Late Pradeep Maharathy, the folk poet of Western Odisha, Padma ShriHaldhar Nag and rapper Dule Rocker of Kalahandi, everyone has come to this interview based program. Importantly, OTV has no hard-and-fast rules regarding the presentation style of the program. That means it will not necessarily only be filmed and presented inside the studio. That is why the presenters of the program often go out of the studio and sometimes go to the guest’s place to interview them. Interviews are sometimes conducted in a walk-the-talk style and sometimes in an informal way.
This Kholakatha program suddenly came to the attention of the national media and attracted the attention of the non-Odia audience, apart from the Odia audience, about an important and sensitive event. On 24th August 2021, cameras, studios, technicians, the anchor of the show Manoranjan Joshi and the guest Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati were all set to start the shoot inside the studio. However, before starting the shoot, Manoranjan was going to put his mobile phone on flight mode when he received a call from a friend. He came to know that while his mother was brought to a hospital in Bhubaneswar in an ambulance, she died of a cardiac failure on the way. He felt as if the whole world around him got shattered and was choked with full of emotions.
Meanwhile, the guest Tara Prasad Bahinipati and other associates advised the anchor to stop the shoot. But Manoranjan refused to stop the shoot and continued it without being disturbed by the irreparable loss of his life. “If I can complete this program, then my mother would be the happiest one” he mentioned. He was admired by all for his utmost dedication and devotion to his work.
In the last five years, it has been observed that no leader of the ruling party or any minister of the government is coming to this program. Therefore, various questions to be asked for the purpose ofthe government are often being asked to the leaders of the opposition parties. The government’s intentions are being indirectly questioned through the opposition.
All in all, the program “Kholakatha” has taken the standard of interview-based program preparation and presentation to the next level that was started by “Sidhakatha” of ETV Odia. Both programs of the respective channels have succeeded in gaining popularity.
(Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak is a writer and former media professional. He is currently working as the Head of the Department of University Institute of Media Studies, Chandigarh University at Mohali, Punjab. Views are Personal)