Zoom to platinum Oriya silver screen

Article By:NAMITA PANDA source The Telegraph,June 29 2010

From touring cinema to a number of air-conditioned halls, from mythological scripts to urban fantasies, the journey hasn’t been easy for the Oriya film industry.

The industry turned 75 years old last month. Proof that the industry is now growing at a fast rate can found in the number of films that released on Sunday: around 447 — from Sita Bibaha to Aama Bhitare Kichhi Achhi. The fraternity is now celebrating the milestone at various award functions.

“After the first (Oriya) film was released, there was a gap of 15 years before Lalita released. Of course, efforts were on, but none bore fruit. One of the reasons was that during the British regime, film halls (in the then capital Cuttack) preferred screening English classics for British officers. They looked down upon Oriya cinema. Today, Oriya films run for months at a stretch at movie theatres,” said Bhim Singh, veteran film and theatre personality and author of Oriya Chalachitrara Agyanta Adhyaya.

According P.K. Mishra, deputy general manager of the Oriya Films Development Corporation, at least 15 Oriya films release every year . Each comes with a production cost of around Rs 70 lakh.

But commercialism has given a new definition to films in Orissa. There have been tremendous changes in the outlook of filmmakers and the audience believes senior film journalist Parikshit Jena.

“Oriya cinema used to enjoy a lot of patronage from royal families and businessmen, who wished to promote films as a form of art. Unlike today, the films in the first half of Oriya film history were not produced for commercial gain,” he said.

“During the first few years of Oriya cinema, the audience loved to watch mythological characters come to life on the silver screen. The second phase of Oriya film history witnessed the emergence of social and rural in film scripts,” he added.

Today, films are just a means of relaxation and entertainment. So, they depict life in cities, Jena said.

Young film stars too seem to show a preference for big budget films.

“We recently shot a song in Manali. Going outdoors has become frequent even for a few scenes. This concept was non-existent earlier. In fact we have to wear beautiful costumes designed by well-known names; just like Bollywood. Wearing designer clothes is a must for song-and-dance scenes or romantic sequences. I think these small differences have added to the growth of the industry,” said young actress Archita.

Veterans from the film industry, however, are not too happy; most releases in the last two decades have been remakes of Telugu and Bollywood films.

The number of superstars hasn’t been proportional to the growth of viewership either, rued Bapu Lenka, proprietor of Home Video Entertainment. Lenka produced the colour version of black-and-white film Jajabara last year.

“There has been a huge growth in viewership. The growth was exponential after 1982, when films started being available for personal viewing in the form of video cassettes. The number has only grown with the proliferation of television channels. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many consistent stars during this phase,” Lenka said.

While Sriram Panda, Prashant Nanda and Uttam Mohanty, as lead actors, and Dukhiram Swain, Bijay Mohanty and Hara Pattnaik, as villains, left an indelible mark on the minds of film audiences, Jharana Das, Mahasweta and Aparajita were the uncontested heroines of the classic era, said an industry insider.

“Of course, Sidhhanta Mahapatra and now Anubhav have claimed success as heroes; but the seat for female lead superstar is quite empty,” he said.

The new generation has shown some promise, though, with Sabyasachi, Buddhaditya, Aakash, Arindam, Archita and Barsha Priyadarshini giving regular hits, the source added.

Despite the differences, the newer generation’s respect for the veterans was visible at the Tarang cine awards function. They brought to life memories from the yesteryears as the young artistes performed to tunes from old films. Actress Mahasweta was among them. Oriya film industry veterans are also being felicitated at award functions.

Only the OFDC is yet to announce a function to celebrate this milestone in Oriya cinema. “We have a proposal (to hold a function) but nothing has been finalised yet,” said Mishra.

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