Date:24/10/2003 URL:

A taste of Orissa at film festival

"Laxmi Ra Abhisara" is based on a short story by the famous writer Manoj Das.

IT IS significant that the Kerala Government, in its newly-instituted festival of regional films, chose to screen a panorama of Oriya films. The festival, designed to be an annual affair, featured five Oriya films over three days (October 17-19) at Tagore theatre in Thiruvanantapuram.

Oriya films have had a history of seven decades with the maiden Oriya film ``Sita Bibaha'' having been made in 1934.

When the parallel film movement in the country was at its height, the FTII-trained filmmaker Nirad Mohapatra had made ``Maya Miriga" in the early 1980s and hit the headlines by bagging the Swarna Kamal.

``Nila Mastarani," deals with the unfair treatment meted out to women in our society.

Thereafter the progress of parallel films in Orissa has been indifferent though makers like Manmohan Mohapatra, A. K. Bir, Sagir Ahmed of the old guard and Susant Mishra, Himanshu Khatua, Chakradhar Sahu, Shantanu Mishra, Bijoy Mishra and now Subas Das have kept the tradition alive.

The five Oriya films selected for screening at the Thiruvanantapuram regional film festival were ``Laxmi ra abhisara" (Laxmi's visit to her loved one), ``Bhukha" (The Hungry), ``Ahalya" (What the silence said), ``Aw aakare aa" and ``Nila Mastarani" (Nila the school teacher) and all of them belong to the art house.

In fact ``Bhukha" by Sabyasachi Mohapatra is the only film in Sambalpuri, a dialect of western Orissa. Dealing with the life of the poverty-stricken folk drummers known as bajaniya the film was adjudged the best feature film at the 28th Gijion International Film festival in 1990.

"Aw Re Aakare Aa" shows the drudgery of the modern education system.

The opening film of the festival was ``Laxmi ra abhisara" based on a short story by the famous writer Manoj Das and directed by ace filmmaker and cinematographer Raju Mishra. It revolves round a sweet little girl who in her innocence is closer to God than all those who project themselves as great devotees. While ``Ahalya," directed by young Bijay Ketan Mishra, depicts the silent suffering of an Indian woman who finds deliverance only in her death , ``Nila Mastarani," directed by Chakradhar Sahu, deals with the unfair treatment meted out to women in our society on another level. But here the woman, an educated teacher protests and rebels. Widow remarriage and intercaste marriages in the orthodox society are the sensitive issues brought into focus. This film is based on a story by the late Godabarish Mohapatra, another great writer of Orissa thus underscoring the close relation literature and films have had in Orissa.

Young Subas Das projected another very sensitive issue — the drudgery and defeatism of modern education system in ``Aw re Aakare Aa" made only in 2003. The protagonist Mini grows up to be a schoolteacher and dares to change the conventional system of education on her own.

The panorama had a good selection of films that apart from throwing up issues showcased the talents of established and up-and-coming directors some of whom, like Sabyasachi Mohapatra, Raju Mishra and Subas Das, were felicitated by the Kerala Government. The three-day film festival which gave the audience a feel of Orissa's unique socio-cultural milieu was complemented by a cultural programme that had on show Odissi , Chou and Sambalpuri dances bringing the flavour of Orissa alive in distant Kerala.


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